I don't follow Glenn Beck closely, but the excerpts I have read from his rally over the weekend - timed and sited to coincide with the anniversary of MLK Jr's most famous speech - increase my esteem for him. I was struck not only by his call for self-responsibility, but also by something I read from Al Sharpton's small counter-rally; the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, said that Beck's crowd consisted of "small hearts and small minds," or something like that. Even ignoring the irony of this line being spoken in the presence of Al Sharpton, I don't think it fits Beck in general (some of his fans, possibly; I don't know) and certainly not his tone on Saturday.
Monday, August 30, 2010 :::
Beck is more combative than I go for, and sometimes lacking in perspective, which (along with a lack of free time) is why I don't tune in, even though I think we have broadly similar world-views. It is easy to make the step from combative to mean (Ann Coulter is quite talented at this), but I haven't seen it from Beck. Even when he was taking out Van Jones, it didn't strike me as a personal attack. He said once that he thought Obama was racist, but I understood this to be based on some of his statements and policies rather than arbitrary mud-slinging. I don't believe that Beck picks a new "worst person in the world" on every show.
Maybe my ignorance of Beck is greater than Jealous's (though I wouldn't bet that he tunes into Beck's TV show much more frequently than I do); presumably, he had no chance to learn about the speeches being given at Beck's rally before his speech was delivered. If so, his remark was merely poorly timed; Beck's rally, if not his show, seemed to be more about calling on each member of the crowd to be the responsible, mindful sort of person capable of self-government than it was about calling for less government from above. This message is quite consistent with many of the greatest supporters of civil rights in America, from Fredrick Douglas, to Booker T. Washington, to Reverend King himself. I hope that Ben Jealous's heart and mind are big enough to accept it, and that those who heard it on the mall on Saturday take it to heart as well.
Labels: Glenn Beck, philosophical issues in democracy
::: posted by Steven at 12:16 AM