Saturday, August 28, 2010

Talking Change When You Don't Want to Change...

Today, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, conservative commentator Glenn Beck held his "Restore Honor" rally in front of tens of thousands of people from around the country. It was lost on no one that Beck's rally was held on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, given on the same steps; in fact, Beck, former governor Sarah Palin and other speakers repeatedly invoked King's name and legacy during the rally.

My political bias and general dislike of Beck and Palin aside, many things troubled me about this rally. For one, King's speech talked about setting aside racial differences and uniting for a common cause. Beck and Palin, addressing a predominantly white crowd, mentioned that the US was in danger of "turning into Mexico." Rally participants distributed pamphlets that depicted President Obama with Hitler's mustache and wore shirts that said "Treat Obama like a used teabag; dump him now!" One can only wonder whether such a rally would have been held had anyone other than the nation's first African-American president been in office.

Another thing Beck spoke of is the need to "restore traditional American values." We hear this a lot from conservatives. But of course, these traditional American values—where Christianity is valued above other religions, where people can get married and divorced and married and divorced but same-sex marriage destroys the "sanctity" of marriage, where "patriotism" is valued only when personal civil rights are trampled—only benefit those who espouse them. They don't actually uphold those values. After all, Beck called President Obama a "terrorist," and Palin likes to create her own version of reality to suit her purposes.

And the third worrisome thing about this rally is what Beck called "America today begin[ning] to turn back to God." One supporter chanted to a heckler "Go to church. Restore America with peace." So whose God are we speaking of? I'm fairly certain that a person like me wouldn't be welcomed into this group unless I renounced who I was.

So should I just move to Canada now?

This world, especially the world of politics, is governed by the philosophy of "do as I say, don't do as I do." And while the hypocrisy is alternately troubling and amusing most of the time, I am frightened by the once-again-growing conservativism of this country. I know that our nation was built on the idea of freedom for all, but I believe people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin would like to amend that philosophy, and offer freedom for those who believe what they believe and act as they say you should. Daring to be different doesn't deserve the same rights. And to me, that's not restoring honor. That's building a nation on fear, ignorance and prejudice.

Not the same idea that our founding fathers had in mind.

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