by Deborah Mathis, BlackAmericaWeb.com
So routine was it that I forgot to turn on C-SPAN until Glenn Beck’s dreaded “Restoring Honor” rally was nearly over.
Truth was, unless they were there or watching it on TV or the Internet, people in the Washington, D.C. area may well have been oblivious to the fact that thousands upon thousands of self-described “patriots” from around the country were in the neighborhood.
Like the brief earthquake that took parts of the area by surprise a couple of months back, Beck’s shake-up came and went without many of us having felt so much as a quiver.
That’s something, considering that the wind-up to the event foretold a major tremor.
After all, a multitude was coming, summoned by the self-propelled Beck, a vaudevillian character whose shtick has won him an almost cultish following.
And, on top of that, he claimed he was doing so to “reclaim” the civil rights movement.
And, more than that, he had said “divine providence,” not irony or cynicism, had led him to choose that place and that day – the place being the Lincoln Memorial, which just happened to be the same place and 47 years to the day that Martin Luther King delivered his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.
If that weren’t enough, Beck had invited not only Sarah Palin, the human lightning rod, to speak, but also Alveda King, a niece of the martyred leader.
That’s right; the Black kin of a Black man gunned down for agitating for Black rights had said “yes” to a man who once called the first Black president of the United States a racist. That, alone, could have warped the needle on the Richter Scale.
By the time Ms. King took the stage on Saturday afternoon, her punch had been considerably softened. By then, people who cared about this story at all had already been apprised of her message. For “traditional values.” Against reproductive rights. Opposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Yada yada yada.
It was disappointing, but not as stinging as one might have thought, given that the woman shares a blood line with one of the world’s most famous and effective advocates for justice, fairness, and individual rights and one of its fiercest foes of prejudice and discrimination.
Groups that want to keep the old order in play – groups like Beck’s – have always enjoyed black apologists and accommodationists to give them cover. Booker T. Washington was probably history’s most famous – and Alveda King is no Booker T. Washington.
Tsk-tsking aside, if there was any movement derived from Alveda King’s appearance, it was nothing more than a giant shrug.
I suppose Beck’s gathering served some purpose. It must have been good for folks who are freaked out by a country whose budget, military might, treasury, environment and civil liberties were put in and left in critical condition by a man who now eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a nice new house outside Dallas; and whose memories are too short or biases too deep to save them from blaming the clean up crew for the wreckage. To be surrounded by so many similarly peeved? Well, misery loves company.
Other than that, the event that threatened to rattle the nation’s capital, if not the whole country, turned out to be nothing more than any one allowed it to be. It had no more power or effect than we chose to assign it. It came and went, without so much as an overturned chair in its wake. So much for that.