Common ground, One Nation: who could argue with that?


"You're my fellow American and I love you. You're my fellow American and I will fight for your family like it's my own." Those were the words of Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, as he delivered an electrifying speech to a crowd numbering over 100,000 people, Oct 2.  Despite the remarkably compassionate, uncontroversial nature of Jealous' and many others' words at the One Nation rally, conservatives have responded with virtually unanimous and ferocious condemnation.

Detractors of last Saturday's rally have focused on comparisons with Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally on August 28. The blogosphere erupted with now ubiquitous photographic juxtapositions of the two events, one photo showing Beck's rally clearly at its height, with the mall full of people and no inch of grass to be found anywhere, the other showing Saturday's gathering at a time when most protestors had clearly not yet arrived. But with no official estimates, the argument over who had the most people will in all likelihood remain unsolved.

In many ways, however, quibbling over debatable data is irrelevant to One Nation's message: people before profit. And who, after all, would mount a public opposition to such a message?  Certainly not Glenn Beck, who took the opportunity on his Monday show to slam Saturday's momentous rally without addressing its content.

In a typical exhibition of extreme right-wing hatemongering, Beck characterized One Nation gatherers as anti-American malcontents, "a group of freaks ... unengaged, apathetic, and barely paying attention." Beck went on to claim that, by the time speakers came onto stage, only a hundred people remained, even as footage behind him showed thousands of people milling about before the Lincoln Memorial.

Beck didn't, however, engage with Ed Schultz's appeal to Saturday's remarkably diverse crowd - "Are you American?  Do you love America?" - or with the resounding assent that returned in answer. Likewise, Beck avoided altogether any response to Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, who issued a call to "turn back those who hijack Dr. King's words but subvert his call to end poverty and excessive militarism." Edelman ended with the decidedly plain but time-honored injunction to "leave our world better than we found it." Who could argue to the contrary? Who would denounce a call for more jobs, better education, and peace?

Few could - or even would - which is probably why conservative responses have focused on short-sighted comparisons with Restoring Honor. And of course, many opponents of the One Nation rally have followed Beck's example in employing archetypal McCarthyism rather than engaging with the ideas that circulated on and off stage last Saturday. Perhaps, in the perpetual push to polarize the electorate, extreme conservative mouthpieces want to avoid the common ground shared between people who consider themselves on the left and those who follow the right - ground that Edelman, Schultz, Jealous, and others explored at length. Perhaps, in fact, the old left-right binary has in many ways lost traction: perhaps we need a new way of speaking to one another that acknowledges our mutual interests and beliefs.

After all, nearly all Americans could agree that cultivating a working, educated, healthy electorate is a good thing - and that Jealous drew from the core of American identity when he asserted, "We know that our nation's destiny is to move ever forward, never backwards."  Evoking the Pledge of Allegiance, Jealous likewise declared: "We are one nation, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all." How, then, with so many patriots, veterans, faithful, and workers in attendance, can Beck and others characterize the One Nation rally as a group of people who have "called for the destruction of America?"

Most Americans seem to draw from the same source, the same rich soil of identity that informs, to one degree or another, all of our views. More importantly, most of us seem to have the same goal in sight (charlatans and corporate interests aside). Gatherers at Saturday's rally took one step in the right direction, one step towards a conversation that acknowledges our commonality and ceaseless interdependence with one another. And with November's mid-term elections fast approaching, we would all do well to remember Jealous' clear and charitable words: "You're my fellow American and I love you. You're my fellow American and I will fight for your family like it's my own."

Photo: William Massey


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  • Just a comment on Marxism. This article speaks of One Nation and how could you disagree with more jobs. In fact there is just and unjust nations as well as just and unjust jobs. The whole conception of Marxist thought is that we support and work in solidarity with the just and progressive cause towards the liberation path. It is indeed misleading of communists to say all one nation concepts are just and progressive, or that all jobs are just and progressive, especially as we see in America as head of the Worlds Imperialist Camp.

    Marx, Engles, and Mao show great enthusiasm for the organic revolution that would displace the exploiters state such as exists in Imperialist America, and great solidarity towards those that obtain jobs that don't pollute or aggressively war against the workers of the world.
    This should be more clearly, correct ideologically as the class struggle is heating up, and the workers need a communist party that shows them a path towards their immediate liberation as well as a future.

    That is why the call should be as against the polluters jobs of coal, gas, oil, and atomic energy all of which is regressive and destructive to mother earth. The answer is the non-pollution solutions such as wind, tidal, and solar power which transforms to electricity and is more power than all the fossil fuels put together.

    That is the organic ecological need for now, and in the future. What destruction might obtain not to mention the need to end aggressive war globally, and the anti-fascist covenants should be mentioned as a study guide to teach the way out of the axis methods of 1) might is right, 2) Unilateralism, 3) Pre-emptive strikes as foreign policy.

    That is the path of discredited empire and no communist party should blear the distinguishment between the two sides. Anti-fascism demands the end of aggressive war as any nations foreign policy, whereas aggressive war as foreign policy points to re-conquest of the world's livability. Viva socialist liberation. End pollution wars, not endless wars for more pollution.

    Posted by jon, 10/13/2010 6:15pm (5 years ago)

  • Even, though most Americans agree with the things, that the One Nation Rally stand for, over at least the past thirty years, the country has grown more unequal and the U.S. has become involved in several wars abroad. I don't say how, you can say that the Left-Right polarity is no longer relevant. For things to really change, the polarity will likely have to become more intense.

    Posted by Sean Mulligan, 10/09/2010 11:07am (5 years ago)

  • It is pretty obvious from the make-up and composition of the much larger One Nation rally (over the lily whiteness of Glenn Beck's anti-Muslim rally) which one really reflects America.

    Posted by Smarter-than-a-teabagger, 10/08/2010 8:38am (5 years ago)

  • Considering that Ed Schultz called Conservatives 'Evil' during the keynote speech, I'd say the sentiments of this article are fairly disingenuous. Just sayin'...

    Posted by , 10/07/2010 6:14pm (5 years ago)

  • Excellent article by this talented new writer!
    --jim lane in Dallas

    Posted by jim lane, 10/07/2010 4:42pm (5 years ago)

  • Well written, however a little nationalistic, internationalism is essential to communist thought. A One World Rally would't be a bad idea either. All the best though, Caravaglia

    Posted by grafitticaravaglia, 10/07/2010 3:02pm (5 years ago)

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