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Opinion

Opinion

Beck confused about who ‘we’ is

August 26, 2010

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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

Comments

blindrabbit 3 years, 7 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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Paul R Getto 3 years, 7 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

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TopJayhawk 3 years, 7 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.

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TopJayhawk 3 years, 7 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.

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blindrabbit 3 years, 7 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!

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jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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tange 3 years, 7 months ago

Beck-beck-beck-beck G'Beck! Beck-beck-beck-beck...

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blindrabbit 3 years, 7 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.

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HomeSlice 3 years, 7 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?

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jaywalker 3 years, 7 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.

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ljwanonymous 3 years, 7 months ago

In Becks case, please explain difference between confused and clueless. But then clueless applies completely to his supporters.

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Fear_Completes_Me 3 years, 7 months ago

Glenn Beck is awesome. I love his blackboard. But I think he should switch to whiteboard. He's like L. Ron Hubbard except his religion is so much cooler than scientology and I like Beck's daily sci fi lectures waaaaaaay better.

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tange 3 years, 7 months ago

Hey, I'm with The Disappointed One on this (—you know, always railing against "The Anointed One").

Beck may not know who "we" are, but he does seem to possess uncanny insight...

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Mike Ford 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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Aiko 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 7 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.

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Bob Kraxner 3 years, 7 months ago

"WE" goes something like this, Leonard... Harry Callahan: "Well, punk .... we're not just gonna let you walk outta here !" Black Man (aka criminal): "Who's we?" Harry Callahan: "Smith and Wesson and me!" (proceeds to blow several holes in criminal)

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mr_right_wing 3 years, 7 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!)

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

Speaking of the guy with the gift of grab, our Former Groper in Chief, Willy J. Clinton, I just talked with a good friend and college roommate this morning. He's one of the few I know that knows anything about politics---mother was a Republican MO representative for years. We both agreed that we would take Clinton back in a heartbeat considering the utter catastrophe we now have in the oval office.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 7 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.]

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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blindrabbit 3 years, 7 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!

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acg 3 years, 7 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.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

Lest we not forget The Anointed One was an admitted pot smoker, hoovered blow like nobody's business, would've shot up smack but (claims) he chickened out, smokes like a chimney, and listened to Rev. Wright's outrageous Black Liberation Theology rants for 20 years. Who's got issues?? Wow!

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blindrabbit 3 years, 7 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.

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2002 3 years, 7 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.

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berrypenders 3 years, 7 months ago

The Poser's 'fundamental transformation' is working sir. What made the Normal people of the country think that the Poser's 'fundamental transformation' was for them? The 'fundamental transfomation' is called Jihad in Islamic circles.

Stimulus, Fun And Mental Transformation, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless you

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

To be fair and balanced, I've made a point of watching Brian Williams at 5:30. While I will say, he has covered some of the horrific economic news (kinda unavoidable) rarely if ever is the word "Obama" woven into the story. He just will not say a bad word about the guy----not on the nights I've watched him.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

Great tune from a great album. I wore out my double-set 8-track of the 'White Album' when I was 13-14.

But to stick to the topic, the crying won't be from me----looks like the left's miracle from heaven and his grand scheme of fundamental transformation are in the process of imploding. It's hard to keep up with the bad news anymore.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

Jonathan and Wendy, whatya think about Agnostick's youtube link?

Wow!

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Agnostick 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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berrypenders 3 years, 7 months ago

The Jealousy of Pitts is typical of Progressive Articulate Disillusionts. They are "Bitter Clingers" that can't stand logic, truth or common sense.

Stimulus, PAD Bitter Clingers, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless us all

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TheGeneral 3 years, 7 months ago

Shut down fox news? Good luck. The other guys are doing a good job shutting themselves down. How much longer will nbc be able to operate?

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Liberty_One 3 years, 7 months ago

Beck is nut. He goes from righteous anger to sobbing to stoic patriotism and then to wild glee all in the space of about five minutes. He has issues.

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ivalueamerica 3 years, 7 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.

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Mike Ford 3 years, 7 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.....

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BorderRuffian 3 years, 7 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?

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 7 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.

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booyalab 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

If you will stick with Beck, you will usually be astonished at the constant string of associations he makes. I know at first, even I wonder "Where the heck is he going with this" but if you follow through, he pulls it together. The blackboard, the stick-up faces, the props and the presentation do make Beck appeal to a large audience. He is different. I love his elite act---with the pipe and the accent---hilarious and even though it's his comedic side, it's satire is a dead-ringer for the reality of elite liberals. But he is fair. My kids during the summer would yell upstairs "Hey Dad, Glenn Beck has a big cake (or fill in the blank of the prop of the day) and they enjoy watching him. They would ask me, "Is that true?" And I would say, he just gave you the background and the sources, yes it's true". They have learned alot about our president from Beck. There is no doubt Obama is a radical socialist and a believer of Black Liberation Theology. Just look at what he's doing.

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Cait McKnelly 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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cato_the_elder 3 years, 7 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.

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grammaddy 3 years, 7 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.

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 7 months ago

"We" is everyone of the Obama ilk; Liberal Elitist who think they have all the answers and know what's best for everyone else.

He's not a clown jaywalker. He exposes the things Couric, Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer refuse to.

Pitts, like Obama, is a racist. Beck is not a racist.

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jaywalker 3 years, 7 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.

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