My job takes me into DC just about every day where I can see the reality of people of all stripes working to earn a living and made a difference this great nation of ours. Some people work for private government contractors and others work directly for an Agency, Administration, Department or Bureau. It doesn't matter what the employer-employee relationship is, we all make this nation work. Some people may not be in the realm of 6-figure salaries with benefits but even the man or woman who cleans the offices, waters the sidewalk plantings, rings up office supplies at Staples, makes my noontime sandwich adds his/her indispensable services to the greater whole. They are what America is. Each man and woman is an honorable thread in the tapestry of American civilization.
Glen Beck is a man who believes that he holds the answer to America's troubles. The answer is God and an adherence to a 2000-year old text. Mr. Beck decided that it was necessary to stage a rally to honor the dead veterans of the latest American wars. He chose the honorable date of August 28 to coincide with the historic speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, 47 years earlier. But what has been lost in the hoopla and rhetoric of the pro-this and anti-that movements is that it also coincides with the long-planned and now implemented pullout of combat troops from Iraq.
What was billed as a non-political political rally on Constitution Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial to Restore Honor to our military personnel had the character of a free-for-all stand up and shout praise Christian revival tent meeting (without the tent.)
There was no continuity to the messages or the speakers who uttered their favorite catch-phrases and sound bytes. There was an air of pride-by-association to the entire event. For example, Ms. Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, former V. Pres. Candidate, current Grizzly Mom and spokesmodel for the Tea Party activist gave a rousing speech that would not have left a dry eye at any VFW Local Hall. Tens of thousands of "Don't Tread On Me" mid-western anti-tax aficionados filled the grassy fields of Constitution Mall bringing with them the parochial rhetoric of Too Much Taxation. Never mind the fact that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have now cost Americans $1.07 Trillion that only their children, grandchildren "unto the third generation" will have to pay.
Glenn's rally was the Whitest rally DC has ever seen. Each speaker brought out his/her own constituency to add to the total. Sarah brought the 55 to 70 demographic. And they in turn brought their children. Glenn brought his young disenchanted Christian, God-driven radio listeners. Aveda King spoke on the Civil Rights connection and brought no one. The speakers wove their respective colors into the tapestry and produced a bland brown cloth that said nothing. Although left unsaid, the biggest item on the agenda was to link the disparate demographics into a Fiscally Conservative base for the next election. Networking was the goal.
Anti-tax Tea Party folks were to gain an understanding of chest-swelling pride of veterans (who by the way will be best honored by using tax dollars to treat their war injuries and pay their benefits.) Veterans and their families were to feel that we love them after all and won't shun them as we did after Vietnam. Not only does each soldier deserve a metal with a ribbon but so do their moms.
Immigrants in this country learned that they really are invited here by the words on the iconic Statue of Liberty. No matter how vocal we are that they wait their turn to break bread with White Americans our Honorable ideals will be restored and they too can become Conservatives like Lloyd Marcus.
Minorities in this country learned that one can easily lose the founding principles to an interloper if one fails to defend the 'intellectual property' that was theirs. Like Xerox and Kleenex, ones unique identity can be diluted by allowing usurpation to go unchallenged. This rally stole the thunder of the Civil Rights movement and the Dream that led it forward for nearly a half century.
Native Americans learned that their only hope is to turn to God and pray away their anger at having lost so much and received so little in return. Faith in God is the only hope they have in the face of extreme poverty, lack of resources, education and access to medical care. No fed-up taxpaying conservative American who attended the rally wants to fund such improvements that are long overdue.
In the run up to the Restore Honor rally the originators variously described its purpose as "to take back our country" and "to reclaim Civil Rights". As with all the rhetoric of the day, audacious battle cries were uttered without ever linking them with what the battle was against. Take back this country from what or whom? The statement itself presupposes that someone or something has taken the country away from its people. It suggests that there is a Them and an Us who are at odds with each other. The fervor would be more understandable if Ms. Palin were a Lakota Souix speaking on the still smoldering sentiments after having lost 99.9% of the land to foreign invaders.
"Reclaim Civil Rights"? The Rev. Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson would be more believable as a person expounding the need to raise the level of equality after some erosion of the gains by Dr. King, Rosa Parks and all the other people who dedicated their lives to the cause of racial equality.
There were indeed hundreds of thousands of people on the Mall on August 28 listening to a concoction of speakers telling one story while representing a wholly different ideology and constituency. The only coherent message that was conveyed was that America has the potential to reclaim its honor if we work together to accomplish that goal. It seems that we DO need another Hero, we DO need to know the way home. And we DO need each other to get ourselves back on the highroad.