Tim Wise » Farce on Washington: Glenn Beck and the Assault on Historical Memory
Rather than anger or contempt – however deserved – it is sadness that animates my thoughts today. Sadness that so many would feel the country so besmirched by the first 19 months of the Obama Administration that they would take it upon themselves to march on Washington. The former was led by a man who decries all talk of social justice, and having never apparently read a single word of Dr. King’s writings, suggests that the left has hijacked the movement’s legacy by speaking of such matters as were central to its mission. In truth, it is unlikely that any of the almost all-white throng gathered in Washington this weekend played any part in the civil rights struggle.
Those at Beck’s event were people whose ideological forbears include the editors at the nation’s leading conservative magazine, The National Review, who supported segregation and excoriated King, or worse, the zombified denizens of the John Birch Society, and those like Beck’s personal hero, W. Cleon Skousen, who viewed the civil rights movement as a communist conspiracy to control the world. By which logic one could also have said – and many racists in those days did – that blacks in apartheid America should have stopped complaining and thanked their lucky stars they weren’t in the Belgian Congo under Leopold. Those who did the work of obtaining even the partially decent society in which we live today, did so with no help from those like the people who hung on your every word this weekend. Those of us who know the truth of the movement and this nation’s history – and of the descent into madness upon which some of our fellow citizens have lately embarked at your behest – will continue, as we long have, to struggle against the forces of reaction so well-represented and led by the likes of you.
It is you who lacks commitment to the valuable part of the national ideal. They remember how those good old days were days of terror and hellish oppression for the black and brown, of unchecked male domination of women, of the closet enforced on LGBT folks, of Christian hegemony at the expense of pluralism. Even today those structural injustices remain too strong, but in the days you revere and remember so fondly, they were not only present but were accepted as the very model of virtue. Other dragons to slay than those at which you tilt: first and foremost, the historical amnesia you would today elevate to the level of a national sacrament.
687 Alveda Ave, El Cajon, CA
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