History need not be rewritten

HISTORY NEED NOT BE REWRITTEN….As anti-government zealots assemble in the nation’s capital for a rally intended to glorify a deranged, self-described rodeo clown, it’s worth emphasizing a simple truth: Glenn Beck would have really hated Martin Luther King, Jr.

Beck recently told his minions, “Damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights [movement]. We will take that movement because we were the people who did it in the first place!”

It’s hard to overstate how blisteringly stupid this is.

King’s “I Have A Dream” speech was 47 years ago tomorrow, and over the years since its delivery, King has taken his place in the pantheon of legendary American heroes. His iconic status was hard-earned, and well deserved. But to argue that the civil rights movement that King helped lead was a product of right-wing activists who hate government and domestic social programs, is to stray so far from reality that it’s hard to even capture it with words.

Americans wisely revere the King legacy now, but a half-century ago, Beck’s conservative predecessors loathed the civil rights leader. The right-wing snake-oil salesmen whose shtick Beck is borrowing now used words like “communist” and “radical” to dismiss King and his movement.

Ben Dimiero posted a report this week that reminded us not to let history be rewritten.

King forcefully advocated for drastic action by the federal government to combat poverty; supported “social justice”; called for an “economic bill of rights” that would “guarantee a job to all people who want to work”; and stated that we must address whether we need to “restructure the whole of American society” — all ideas that Beck has vilified.

Beck accuses progressives of trying to rewrite history and implores his followers to read original sources, but a review of King’s own words clearly shows that Beck’s insistence that he and his followers are the custodians of King’s dream and legacy is nothing more than a lie.

Eugene Robinson, in a column that almost expresses pity for the “egomaniacal talk-show host,” also reminds us that “Beck’s version of history is flat-out wrong.”

The full name of the event at which King spoke 47 years ago was the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Among its organizers was labor leader A. Philip Randolph, the founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and a vice president of the AFL-CIO, who gave a speech describing the injustice of “a society in which 6 million black and white people are unemployed and millions more live in poverty.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), then an official of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was the youngest speaker at the march. “We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of, for hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here — for they have no money for their transportation, for they are receiving starvation wages,” he told the crowd. Referring to proposed civil rights legislation, Lewis said: “We need a bill that will provide for the homeless and starving people of this nation. We need a bill that will ensure the equality of a maid who earns five dollars a week in the home of a family whose total income is $100,000 a year.”

From the beginning, King’s activism and leadership were aimed at securing not just equal justice but equal opportunity as well. When he was assassinated in 1968, King was in the midst of a Poor People’s Campaign aimed at bettering the economic condition of all underprivileged Americans, regardless of race.

“We will take that movement because we were the people who did it in the first place”? If a more pathetic political lie has ever been told, I can’t think of it.