Returning Honor

A friend asked me to comment on why I found the Beck’s connection with Martin Luther’s King speech offensive, I had to take time to explain.  I mean to be sure, the “Returning Honor” rally itself was fine and by the accounts I’ve skimmed, was pretty nice and a tamping down of the hatred of the recent past and hopefully a sign of a return to civil discourse.  But I found Beck’s connection offensive and below is my explanation.

To be sure, the theme on the surface is not something I disagree with.  Who would with God and country?  But here is why I find the Back (and Palin) offensive in connection with Dr. King.  I don’t have the eloquence but MLK does.

“When millions of people have been cheated for centuries, restitution is a costly process.  Inferior education, poor housing, unemployment, inadequate healthcare—each is a bitter component of the oppression that has been our heritage.  Each will require billions of dollars to correct.  Justice so long deferred has accumulated interest and its cost for this society will be substantial in financial as well as human terms.  This fact has not been fully grasped, because most of the gains of the past decade were obtained at bargain rates.  The desegregation of public facilities cost nothing; neither did the election and appointment of a few black public officials.”

“A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man’s social conditions.  Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity.  Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal.  It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself.  This means, at bottom, that the Christian gospel is a two-way road.  On the one hand, it seeks to change the souls of men and thereby unite them with God; on the other hand, it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men so that the soul will have a chance after it is changed.  Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.  Such a religion is a kind the Marxists like to see—an opiate of the people.”

“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’  This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love.  A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on  programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

“Those of use who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace.  We must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement.  We must demonstrate, teach, and preach, until the very foundations of our nation are shaken.  We must work unceasingly to lift this nation that we love to a higher destiny, to a more noble expression of humaneness.”

“I have tried to be honest.  To be honest is to confront the truth.  However unpleasant and inconvenient the truth may be, I believe we must expose and face it if we are to achieve a better quality of American life.”

So you can imagine what I think of Palin mocking the first black President, a physical manifestation of King’s dream becoming reality, as a community activist without “real responsibilities.”  You can guess what I think of Beck calling that same man a racist that hates white people.  You can also imagine what I think of him lambasting liberation theology, which King practiced, calling it Marxist on the anniversary of King’s “Dream” speech even in the midst of apologizing for his Obama-racist remarks during a rally about positiveness.  Ironic, offensive and ignorant just doesn’t cover it.  (Note: I have not engaged in ad hominem attack.  I have attacked action.)

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