Glenn Beck’s D.C. Rally Does Not Deserve Criticism

History will continue to remember King, and his triumphant address, long after Beck has returned to well-deserved obscurity.

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Glenn Beck deserves our thanks for staging a rally in Washington, D.C., in support of efforts to raise funds for the children of U.S. military personnel lost in action.

We should not be bothered, as some of his critics have reportedly said, that Beck has scheduled the event on Aug. 28, 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King made his "I Have a Dream" speech from the same spot, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The 47th anniversary of something is not such a significant milestone. And somehow I suspect that history will continue to remember King, and his triumphant address, long after Beck has returned to well-deserved obscurity, his purse fat from selling us overpriced gold coins.

The Mall is a public place--a great messy lawn of democracy. In the last five decades hosts of heroes, hucksters, entertainers, politicians, and clowns have shouted, danced, and sang from the steps where King spoke, without denigrating his memory or accomplishments. The spot should always be open to all. If there was some sort of federal test or level of public approval that needed to be passed, I doubt that King and the other "agitators" of the civil rights movement would have qualified in 1963.

So to Glenn and guest speaker Sarah Palin: Enjoy! I hope you raise a lot of money for those kids. And to those who are planning to attend, let me warn you to dress right and drink a lot of water. Washington is built on a swamp and fill, of which the Reflecting Pool is a remnant. It is going to be hot and humid. Welcome to August in the capital.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on Sarah Palin.]

I must confess to a little confusion at the announcement on Beck's Web site that firearms will not be permitted at the rally. Surely the organizers are not conceding that the promiscuous bearing of arms in crowded public places presents any danger? I'm also puzzled about the title of the event. Since when do we need to "restore honor" to those that gave their lives in the defense of this country? That honor is forever, for the honor of heroes is earned in their sacrifice. It is not something that anyone bestows, or restores--most especially not cable TV entertainers like Beck and Palin.

And then there's Beck's goofy claim that his choice of a date for the rally was "divine providence." Where does this guy get such appalling conceit? Does anyone in the rational world believe that God takes time from his own busy schedule to ponder Glenn's career and whisper in his ear: “August 28! The controversy will boost your ratings! And help Fox raise a million for the Republican Governors' Association!"

It is a nice fantasy, to think that God sends his Clarences to help George Bailey see the light on Christmas Eve. Or that the Archangel Michael, in the guise of John Travolta, drinks and whores and dances his way across the land to bring William Hurt and Andie MacDowell together. But Glenn, these are movies. The Lord surely works in mysterious ways (cf. the 20th century), but organizing your datebook is not one of them.

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