Beck confused about who ‘we’ is

August 26, 2010


A few words about who “we” is.

“This is a moment,” said Glenn Beck three months ago on his radio program, “... that I think we ‘reclaim’ the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and so turned upside down. ... We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place!”

Beck was promoting his “Restoring Honor” rally, to be held Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial, 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King famously spoke there. You’ll notice he didn’t define the “we” he had in mind, but it seems reasonable to suppose Beck was speaking of people like himself: affluent middle-age conservatives possessed of the ability to see socialism and communism in places where it somehow escapes the notice of others.

If you agree that assumption is reasonable, then you must also agree Beck’s contention that his “we” were the architects of the civil rights movement is worse than nonsensical, worse than mendacious, worse than shameless. It is “obscene.” It is theft of legacy. It is robbery of martyrs’ graves.

We’re in an odd moment. Having opposed the freedom movement of the 20th century, some social conservatives seek, now that that movement stands vindicated and venerated, to arrogate unto themselves its language and heroes, to remake it in their image.

Thus, you get claims that “racism” is now what Shirley Sherrod said in a speech to the NAACP. And people calling Sarah Palin the new face of feminism. And conservatives touting the likelihood that King voted Republican — as if the party in 1957 bore any resemblance to the party now.

But even by those standards, Glenn Beck’s effrontery is monumental. Even by those standards, he goes too far. Beck was part of the “we” who founded the civil rights movement!? “No.” Here’s who “we” is.

“We” is Emmett Till, tied to a cotton gin fan in the murky waters of the Tallahatchie River. “We” is Rosa Parks telling the bus driver no. “We” is Diane Nash on a sleepless night waiting for missing Freedom Riders to check in. “We” is Charles Sherrod, husband of Shirley, gingerly testing desegregation compliance in an Albany, Ga., bus station. “We” is a sharecropper making his X on a form held by a white college student from the North. “We” is celebrities like Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando and Pernell Roberts of “Bonanza,” lending their names, their wealth and their labor to the cause of freedom.

“We” is Medgar Evers, Michael Schwerner, Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, Cynthia Wesley, Andrew Goodman, Denise McNair, James Chaney, Addie Mae Collins and Carole Robertson, shot, beaten and blown to death for that cause.

“We” is Lyndon Johnson, building a legislative coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats to defeat intransigent Southern Democratic conservatives and enshrine that cause into law.

And “we” is Martin Luther King, giving voice and moral clarity to the cause — and paying for it with his life.

The we to which Glenn Beck belongs is the we that said no, the we that cried “socialism!” “communism!” “tyranny!” whenever black people and their allies cried, freedom.

The fatuous and dishonorable attempt to posit conservatives as the prime engine of civil rights depends for success on the ignorance of the American people. Sadly, as anyone who has ever watched a Jay Walking segment on “The Tonight Show” can attest, the American people have ignorance in plenitude.

This, then, is to serve notice as Beck and his tea party faithful gather in Lincoln’s shadow to claim the mantle of King: Some of us are not ignorant. Some of us remember. Some of us know very well who “we” is.

And, who “we” is not.

— Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com. lpitts@miamiherald.com


jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

Way too much time and effort spent responding to someone like Glenn Beck. Pitts needs to look inward if that clown is gonna get him this riled.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 9 months ago

Keep swilling it Tom. But don't get freaked when you go to the bathroom and "things" change color. It's all that food dye and fake color.

rbwaa 7 years, 9 months ago

there is nothing that can be said about this ignorance spouted and reversed like Mr. Pitts described...

BigPrune 7 years, 9 months ago

Pitts is just ticked off because Abe Lincoln was a Republican who freed the slaves, though the history revisionists of today claim Lincoln was more of a Democrat than Republican. That is what they teach in our colleges.

thusspokezarathustra 7 years, 9 months ago

As a conservative white man who has spent over 20 years in the midwest you are perfectly positioned to determine who is a racist and who is not.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 9 months ago

Way to go Pitts! Beck should just have a drink on me, make that a double.Fox should just go away. "Fair and unbiased".. right.Fox gave $1 million to the Republican Governor's Association to help them get re- elected,Are they giving the same amount to the Dems? What a bunch of idiots! Oh well, I guess Nancy-Tom needs somewhere to fit in.

Ralph Reed 7 years, 9 months ago

As opposed to your intolerance, right Tom?

notajayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

Good to see grammy's not above lying, either.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 9 months ago

Faux "news" will not just go away because we wish them to. Like a schoolyard bully, they will continue to abuse until we stand up to them and put a stop to their action. Money is what matters, so advertisers and cable operators ought to hear what we think of their activities. Has each person reading this done your part yet?

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 9 months ago

p>ColorofChange.org is launching a massive campaign to shut down Faux Noise. Go to their website and sign the petition.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 9 months ago

I suggest you educate yourself on the right to freedom of speech that our Constitution protects. It does not encompass a business' freedom from criticism or protest by citizens.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 9 months ago

I never claimed to be tolerant of lies and propaganda. A worthy citizen hates such things.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 9 months ago

Jaywalker makes an excellent point. While Beck is occasionally entertaining, he so often comes from out of left field (OK, right field) with bizarre statements that one wonders why people like Pitts want to pay any attention to him. In fact, many far-left media shills, e.g. Olbermann and Maddow, are obsessed with him. In continually castigating Beck, it only demonstrates that he gets under their skin and, moreover, gives him a lot more street cred with the same group of Americans whom his critics have previously made it quite clear they despise.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 9 months ago

Or they are gunning for a competitor. And, judging by Beck's ratings performance over the last year or so, I'd say they are having some success.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 9 months ago

Maybe it's the royal "we". God knows Beck would love to be king.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 9 months ago

A startling and disturbing look at the future of America if we continue to value entertainment over smarts.

tolawdjk 7 years, 9 months ago


A man on TV tells you something, provides "sources" and rather than independently confirming those sources, the claims and the connections, yourself, you blindly believe them as "truth". You tell your children it is truth rather than encouraging them to investigate and think critically.

Expected from you, yet terrifying none the less.

tolawdjk 7 years, 9 months ago

Yes, I have seen him. Multiple times. Doesn't mean I take his sources as gospel, nor the context in which he sites his sources as correct either. He may cite sources, and even many of is sources can be considered primary documents. However, he is offering his interpretation of those documents. Worse than that, his interpretations may not even be his own, but could be the message his lease handlers want him to put out there. He, himself, has stated that he is an entertainer. Entertainer's seldom are versed in history, or historical analysis.

So you go on believing the Gospel according to St. Beck, and go on limiting your children's critical thinking skills. Let them run off to the loudest voice instead of thinking for themselves and continue the blind, obedient downfall of America.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 9 months ago

Actually, as someone once wisely stated, "it takes a village." This poor parenting and teaching of blind faith in the man on the TV has an impact on us all. Tom should suffer the shame of the harm he is apparently inflicting upon our country.

tolawdjk 7 years, 9 months ago

No, much like Fox, I don't take those sources at their word either.

I'm truely sorry Tom that you seem to have been so viciously afflicted by some kind of disease requiring a black/white world view.

It is my carefully crafted opinion that volume of truth in a statement is inversely preportional to the volume of spittle used in its delivery.

Jimo 7 years, 9 months ago

They say Beck is a autodidact. That explains everything you need to know about the man: a half-wit, self-taught.

But at least we have some insight into your own lunacy now. As Beck himself has admitted: the show is entertainment. Only the gullible will be impressed by his "constant string of associations."

(Black Lib? ROFL)

booyalab 7 years, 9 months ago

Totally. People need to start watching more distinguished and intellectual news programs, like The Daily Show.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 9 months ago

Beck is a good entertainer, but he deserved to be ignored just like the Phelps clan. There is no point in feeding his ego.

BorderRuffian 7 years, 9 months ago

Pitts cannot even get the person right whom he quotes several times. It is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King JUNIOR, not Martin Luther King. Don't you even know your own heroes?

Mike Ford 7 years, 9 months ago

I grew up in Louisiana and Mississippi between 1975 and last year. I saw the Klan in the flesh at Ocean Springs, MS, as a seven year old. I saw the N word graffitied on car washes with warnings to leave Moss Bluff, LA or else. I've listened until last year to my racist ex grandfather used bible verses to justify his hate of virtually everyone different in spite of him being part Indian. My father took to the Lorraine Motel as a four year old and stated this is what bad southerners do as we were looking for an escape from a holiday gone awry in Memphis with the aforementioned grandfather. Beck is a history stealing lunatic like someone caucasian putting on feathers and beads and doing a whitw-washed thanksgiving play. he has no idea what he's misrepresenting any more than conservatives who repeat their version of history fact by spun fact. Pitts is no more a racist than you are an educated civil person, Shewmon, which you aren't. He simply makes your conservative talking point derail and you must repeat nonsense to reinform yourself of the histories you have an inferiority complex about. This Beck thing is a travesty that will hopefully be parodied on family guy or be like geraldo's capone safe... oh well ignore the dummies.....

Grundoon Luna 7 years, 9 months ago

PADs again? You should see a doctor about your excessive menstruation, Barry. You likely now suffer from iron poor blood and are in need of Geritol!

ivalueamerica 7 years, 9 months ago

Estimated advertising revenue [the total amount of advertising money being spent during a block of commercial time for a program] was collected on a week-by-week basis for a period of two months. According to the data collected, the amount of money spent by national advertisers on Beck’s program per week was at its highest at approximately $1,060,000, for the week ending August 2, 2009. ColorOfChange.org launched their campaign at the end of that week and since then, 62 advertisers have distanced themselves from Beck. Data collected for the week ending September 6, 2009 shows Beck’s estimated ad revenue at $492,000, equal to a loss of $568,000.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 9 months ago

Check out their website and sign the new petition.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 9 months ago

Here we go again with the "Anointed" one. You really DO hate American voters don't you Tom. I guess that means you hate America too.

KayCee 7 years, 9 months ago

"You really DO hate American voters don't you Tom." No, he just knows they were hypnotized by the big"O's" cool speeches. Those of us awake saw him for what he was, and he has proven us right.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 9 months ago

He means issues that require medical and psychological intervention. If you have the same issues, Tom, I would recommend making a doctor's appointment.

thusspokezarathustra 7 years, 9 months ago

Why is it you expect him to say a bad word about him? You've been watching too much Fox News if that's your expectation of journalists.

2002 7 years, 9 months ago

Beck and Pitts are birds of a feather. Maybe different in political philosophy, but both absorbed by their perception of their own worth and meaning.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

There is absolutely no comparison between the two. I'd be interested in hearing your motivation for trying to make one.

blindrabbit 7 years, 9 months ago

Regardless of Beck's political affiliation; he speaks through a cloud of prior drug, liquor and sex addiction. That accompanied by repressed religious issues due to his Mormon upbringing has left to be the clown he is.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 9 months ago

You take your rhetoric from Herr Beck well.

thusspokezarathustra 7 years, 9 months ago

This is hilarious. You state something as "absolute truth" and posit as proof a completely unverifiable source you acquired through a personal friendship. Do you really think your assertion proves anything?
I can easily claim to possess pictures of you in drag at a gay pride parade while providing the same lack of proof as you do above. Is there "absolute truth" in my claim as well?

thusspokezarathustra 7 years, 9 months ago

I'd love to post the pictures of you in drag too but you'll just have to take my word for it. It just happens to be true.

acg 7 years, 9 months ago

I love Glen Beck!! The crap he spouts off is excellent fodder for the Daily Show and without him, and Jon Stewart to poke fun at him, I wouldn't have nearly as much to laugh at. Just like Tom Shewmon is necessary for the jworld blogs. I get a kick out of the paranoia and wacky extreme right insanity.

blindrabbit 7 years, 9 months ago

Tom: Pot smoking as admitted by "Your Anointed One" as well as Bill Clinton is much less of a problem than the abuses by Dubya, Rushie and Glenn Baby. More repressed closeted homosexuals coming to the front from the Gay Old Party, now Mehlman. What is funny, many of these closeted types in the GOP fought tooth and nail to deny any pro-gay issues; anything for votes! Many more to be outed soon; I'd suggest you do a little sleuthing on the subject, several GOP congresspeople, governors, former Bush admins, Military, Supreme Court Justice, etc.. There is a good psychological explanation for this hypocritical, homophobic position; Self hate is the best form of Self Love!

Flap Doodle 7 years, 9 months ago

Saw the title & thought this was about Posh and Beck. Never mind.....

Paul R Getto 7 years, 9 months ago

Regardless of Beck's political affiliation; he speaks through a cloud of prior drug, liquor and sex addiction. That accompanied by repressed religious issues due to his Mormon upbringing has left to be the clown he is. === BR: Give him a break; perhaps he has escaped his past. I suspect the only 'party' good enough for Beck is the party of one he chairs and his only true interest is in his bank account, I doubt he'll qualify for food stamps. [PS, thanks former Senator Dole for those.]

Corey Williams 7 years, 9 months ago

Wow! You went to college? Why? I mean, it didn't seem to do you any good. Do you use it for your job? Oh yeah...I forgot. You don't have one.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 9 months ago

Here's something that will floor you libs!

Glenn Beck ... hack/tool/flavor of last month Sean Hannity ... hack/tool/flavor of a few years ago. Laura Ingram ... not sure, never heard her ... suspected hack Mark Levin ... tired, boring one-trick pony Rush Limbaugh -- hack/tool/convicted repeated druggie

Phil Hendrie, satirical genius!

(...and I'll take listening to 'local' talk show hosts on the internet any day over those top 5!)

mr_right_wing 7 years, 9 months ago

I finally posted something that did not illustrate what an 'idiot' I am?! Wow...my week has been made!

Allen Combs is beyond a hack & tool though, he's a fool who knows nothing other than Democratic party propaganda.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 9 months ago

"We both agreed that we would take Clinton back in a heartbeat considering the utter catastrophe we now have in the oval office." === Good point, Mr. Shewmon. If Clinton had been eligible for a third term the polls at that time suggested he would beat GW like a drum.

Aiko 7 years, 9 months ago

Why does nobody make fun of Rachel Maddow. She is equally as annoying as Beck is...

Mike Ford 7 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

Wow! Gone all day, but when I log back in and see 126 comments here I can't help but wonder how such a waste-of-time piece spent on such a waste-of-time guy like Beck could generate this much conversation. Guess this is a prime example of the term "lightning rod." Not gonna bother with what precedes, can't be pretty.

Jay Keffer 7 years, 9 months ago

Complete diversion from Mr. Pitts.

Regardless of what you think about that gasbag Beck, how do you feel about his rally on the anniversary of the famous MLK speech? What? You think it is sacrilege? Why? Y'all support the Muslim center near Ground Zero, right?

Smoke and mirrors, a flank attack against Beck so you don't appear hypocritical when you fume about Beck's appearance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the sacred MLK day. Pitt's timing is beyond suspect.

Fess up - Beck's rally - good or bad? Bad? Why?

Oh, and Beck is a gasbag, un-listenable, for the record, lest you think me a fan.

The hypnotized never lie, do you?

blindrabbit 7 years, 9 months ago

Hey, I know this is a little bit off the subject, but I'm not the only one!!

Just think about this: Take Beck, fatten him up a bit, slap some lederhosen or a set of the Nazi Luftwaffe uniforms, a raised Seig Heil salute, a swastika or two and all of a sudden Hermann Goring appears. Somehow methinks their thought processes are likewise similar.

jaywalker 7 years, 9 months ago

Goering, blindrabbit, Goering. I've got family named Goring, don't mix us up w/ that pos, por favor.

blindrabbit 7 years, 9 months ago

It is spelled both ways; I checked my WWII books and saw it both ways. I agree Goering is the preferred! Muchas gracias! Auf Weidersehen! Sayonara!

TopJayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

You know. I don't always agree with Beck. Don't even watch him much. But he is open to debate anyone. They know where he is.
But no one will do this. They would rather stand at a distance and blast him. C'mon Leonard, go debate the man.
No one will as far as I know.

TopJayhawk 7 years, 9 months ago

I hear all of you, and time will tell.
If we end up in a great depression after the Bush tax cuts go up in smoke after the first of the yr, and the economy goes way off the rails, then we will know. If we turn completely into a socialist state, then we will know.. Time will telll..................... I feel just as uncomfortable with everyone on here chastising those that did not get a big fancy degree. Some of the wisest people I have ever known never set foot on a college campus. Some people are so good at the theoretical stuff, they have no clue when it comes to reality. A good friend of mine once told me. "Remember, some people are so smart, they don't make sense." He is a world renouned M.D.
Let's wait and see............... Better yet, someone should step up and debate him... Prove him wrong... Rub his face in it. Shouldn't be hared to do if he is so delusional.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 9 months ago

TJK: "I feel just as uncomfortable with everyone on here chastising those that did not get a big fancy degree. Some of the wisest people I have ever known never set foot on a college campus. Some people are so good at the theoretical stuff, they have no clue when it comes to reality." === Good point. Education and wisdom are not the same thing. Many people now seem to think education is a ticket to a good income and they have no real interest in anything but the grades, not real learning or understanding. We can all learn from all those we meet in life. Some of the wisest people I've ever met had a real education and not one shoved down their throats in an 'institution.'
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. Mark Twain

blindrabbit 7 years, 9 months ago

Did not see many comments comparing lack of college degree with Glenn's plain stupidity. Agree, many educated people do not have common sense and likewise many minimally educated persons are very adept at many issues.

Remember, Glenn claims to be an entertainer.

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