Glenn Beck rally: sound and fury, signifying ...


The much vaunted "Restoring Honor" rally, hosted by Fox News' Glenn Beck, promoted 24/7 on that station and others, and bankrolled by far-right billionaires, drew an estimated 87,000 people, according to CBS News.

(Even if there were as many as 500,000 people, as the event's organizers claimed, does it really matter? The higher figure pales in comparison to the 2 million people who turned out for President Barack Obama's inauguration.)

Despite Beck's claim that the rally was not political, the politics were clear. Among the major speakers were icons of the Republican Party, including former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and, reportedly, FreedomWorks' Dick Armey, the former Republican House majority leader.

Then there was the politics of race and racism. Whether or not Beck and his corporate puppetmasters deliberately chose the Aug. 28 date with this in mind, it certainly became their conscious choice to manipulate the significance. Aug. 28 is the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.  Aug. 28, 1963, was a coalition effort that brought together black and white, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans along with United Auto Workers members, public workers and other union members, civil rights groups, religious leaders and believers of all faiths and Hollywood stars as well.

Beck's rally was overwhelmingly white, yet Beck claimed the mantle of the civil rights movement. "We are the people of the civil rights movement," he outrageously declared. "We are the ones that must stand for civil and equal rights, justice, equal justice. Not special justice, not social justice. We are the inheritors and protectors of the civil rights movement. They are perverting it," he said, sounding like a plaintiff in a "reverse racism" court case.

Organizers of the carefully staged rally clearly were on the defensive about being considered a racist movement. They undoubtedly worried that if anti-Obama signs and speeches filled the National Mall it would doom the Republicans' hope for a November triumph. Americans of all colors are disgusted by what is widely perceived as the tea party/Fox News/Wall Street movement's racism towards the nation's first African American president and towards African Americans as a people. They are repulsed by Latino-and immigrant-bashing, and the new crop of Rupert Murdoch media-created Islamaphobia. And perhaps they considered the reality that President Obama enjoys 90- plus percent approval ratings among African Americans, a major voting block.

Did the organizers think that making it religious could bring more of the Republican-leaning Evangelicals back into the largely secular tea-party fold and get them mobilized for November? That's another voting block the organizers may have had their eye on. It seems what was once the backbone of the Republican grassroots effort - the Christian Coalition and such - has taken second seat to the more libertarian, conspiracy theorist, anti-government tea party.

Did the organizers choose to "honor" the troops because the Republicans have lost much support among military families? The GOP base in the military has shrunk due to failures like Iraq and veterans' care, while at the same time, President Obama's support among GI Jane and Joe has strengthened. Perhaps the rally speakers thought a few demagogic speeches would undo all the damaging policies.

What the rally boiled down to was November midterm election posturing. In a bid to claim the country's grassroots, the ultra-right GOP tea party is trying to show a much bigger base than perhaps it really has. Like the man behind the curtain portraying the Wizard of Oz as all-powerful, is it really a humbug? It is possible to expose them as such.

Saturday's Glenn Beck-Sarah Palin spectacle, and the Republican/Wall Street-supported coalition behind it, has real limits. It represents only a small section of American society. Some of the people caught up in this ultra-right movement are looking for answers to real life problems they have. And some - not the majority - are working-class people who will never find solutions - especially to economic problems -- in such a movement.

This fall is a test for small and large "d" democrats, progressives and independents. The first challenge is to show that the grassroots doesn't belong to the tea party, with an equally large turnout for the NAACP's One Nation, Working Together march on Oct. 2.

And the biggest challenge will be to hit the streets and help mobilize for a big voter turnout to defeat the ultra-right in November.

Photo: AP

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  • Why are should we be concerned about increasing jobs when we are against profit?

    Government is growing therefore jobs will be available soon...right?

    Posted by Ken Lukes, 09/08/2010 1:15pm (5 years ago)


    Posted by j. h, 09/06/2010 9:57am (5 years ago)

  • i agree with deawngellice j bell we have to organize for oct 2 jobs are going to determine the outcome of this election if folks can get back to work making things in our country again we will see a positive out come in november. let oct 2 b the continuation of the march on wash in 1963 which was for jobs. and then let us build on that

    Posted by , 09/02/2010 4:29pm (5 years ago)

  • Terry Sater's comment is disgusting. Fortunately for the working class, the Vietnamese people drove the U.S. invaders out of their homeland and successfully remained sovereign with a socialist government.

    Posted by LongLiveLenin, 09/01/2010 10:26pm (5 years ago)

  • Terrific article!

    If Dr. King were around today, he would be an Obama supporter and Beck would be calling him a Communist and a racist, too.

    Beck's white supremacist "civil rights movement" interprets any advancement for people of color as a loss for whites. Thus, in their mythos, when the multi-racial majority elected Obama, the first African-American President, “our” (white) honor was lost, and “our” liberties were being threatened.

    Now Beck, Palin, Armey, and their corporate masters momentarily set aside the overt racism of Teabag-ism to “restore honor” by hijacking Dr. King’s legacy and Christ’s message with this dehydrated insta-“movement.” The real goal is to sell books, advance the careers of the professional Right, and to perpetuate the racist myth that Obama wants to take away the rights of white people.

    To “Terry M. Sater”: Too bad the communists won that one. Does it make you want to “touch” communists with your big “cannon”? You’ve got issues, bro.

    T o: “Sylvia Pogal”: Please try to find a more positive way to promote 10/2/10. Your constant harangues on the PW comment lists are kind of a turn-off.

    Posted by Chris, 08/31/2010 11:10pm (5 years ago)

  • Interesting point, are the far right-wing nuts, trying to "bring the tea baggers home?" Tea baggers haven't seemed overly religious, was this just a way of starting their "indoctrination" into the "real" conservative movement?

    Posted by Bryan, 08/31/2010 8:59pm (5 years ago)

  • Thanks for the insightful article. Could you please add some quotes from that rally to prove your analisys? Of course, I bet that would not forward your agenda so we will not get it.

    Posted by Vin, 08/31/2010 9:29am (5 years ago)

  • The vicious,violent,innuendo of the comment of "Terry M. Sater",says what the "new"surge of racist,anti-Latino,anti-immigrant "movement of neo-fascists is all about.
    The attack on social justice and social equality and its hard won foundation in the Constitution of the U.S. is what is being attacked and what is at stake.
    The courageous,miraculous seminal movement of the Communist,W.E.B. Du Bois,for social justice and equality,started at the dawn of the 20th century,initiating the war cry of the historic March on Washington in 1963,recognized with the re-birth of this movement,calling the icon African centrist by name and deed,as the author of all human equality in the century and our wellspring for peace among humankind for the future is what is at stake.
    It is no coincidence that Du Bois's organization,the N A A C P,in coalition with tens and tens of other local and national organizations like the AFL-CIO,La Raza,the Urban League,and NOW are organizing in 2010 to rally for a life or death showing at the voting polls in November,to keep the principles of the 13th,14th,and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution alive and applied in 2011 and 2012.
    It is no coincidence that Du Bois's organization,the C P U S A, is agitating for public ownership of natural resources,transportation and communication control with social and economic justice for the workers in these industries,public and private,along with international justice for all workers,in the face of the "universal selfishness"of finance capital in health care,housing,banking,food production,war production,energy and textile production.
    The October 2,2010 the One Nation Working Together march offers an opportunity to deepen the unity,militancy and international solidarity with the international working class that the titans Du Bois and the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., envisioned to establish a just peace for humankind which would usher in a powerful social and political equality for workers and darker sister and brother workers on our globe,ending centuries of violence,racism,repression,imperialism and war.
    Let us make this vision,this Dream real,we stand on the sturdy shoulders of the working class,for which we make a base.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 08/31/2010 6:08am (5 years ago)

  • 87,000 is accurate if you count about a third of one side of the reflecting pool.

    Dick Armey was not a speaker.

    There were no signs because it was not political.

    There was not a racist word uttered. In fact, hundreds of thousands of white people gave the words of Martin Luther King a standing ovation.

    The message was a return to values and for those who believe-to God.

    The truth hurts...perhaps next time you'll go or at least watch before publishing this garbage.

    Oh...and...if you're WRITING an article, rather than speaking; explanations like "This fall is a test for small and large "d" democrats" need not be offered. You can simply write Democrats. Unless you feel your readers dont understand the difference between a capital and lowercase letter.

    Posted by thomas nash, 08/30/2010 6:26pm (5 years ago)

  • Great story and analysis. I am amazed that with all the promotion on Fox and all the corporate money to bring people to DC for Glenn Beck's rally, they go so few people. It was certainly smaller than the 2007 peace march which got no corporate money and NO free TV commercials.

    Posted by Smarter-than-a-teabagger, 08/30/2010 5:45pm (5 years ago)

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