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Beckfast of champions

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Rick Horowitz
August 31, 2010

I was all set to reclaim the civil-rights movement when I found out that Glenn Beck had beaten me to it. So now I’m thinking of reclaiming the North Pole. Or “God Bless America.” Or microwave popcorn. One of those.


It’s not that I had anything special to do with any of those things. I might have flown over the North Pole one time, but it’s not like I stopped or put up a flag or anything. And I’ve sung “God Bless America” plenty of times, but that’s not quite the same as writing it, which I definitely didn’t do.


And everybody microwaves popcorn. But it’s quick and convenient, and it tastes close enough to the real thing to perk up those movie nights at home, so it definitely deserves being reclaimed by somebody, don’t you think?


That’s the best part of reclaiming—you don’t actually have to have had anything to do with the original claim. All you need is a rally permit and a vivid imagination.

I mean, if Glenn Beck can get his true believers to swallow the idea that they’ve got dibs on the civil-rights movement “because we are the people that did it in the first place”…


Really? The Beckolytes were there way-back-when? Marching side-by-side with Martin Luther King? I must have missed that.


Or even today: The Beckolytes actually stand for the same kinds of things Martin Luther King stood for all those years ago?


You betcha! Especially that business about “the content of their character” instead of “the color of their skin.” The Beckolytes are absolutely crazy about that Martin Luther King line about judging people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. They go on and on about it.


And their rough translation of that single sentence is: “Enough of that affirmative-action stuff! No more special privileges for black folks!”


What a surprise!


For the longest time, most of us Caucasians didn’t have a problem with people being “judged by the color of their skin.” Or course, that’s mostly because we were the ones doing the judging, and because our particular skin color was the one in vogue—at least while we were the judges.


It’s only when things started to shift a little—when other people got to pick a few of the winners, and when darker tones were occasionally the flavor of the month, if only to balance the scales just a bit—that we suddenly discovered how terrible it was to use skin color as any kind of factor.


But for the far-right edge of Caucasian Village, it’s practically a betrayal!


“What about Dr. King?” the Beckolytes cry. “What about judging people by the content of their character?”


As if that was the only sentence Dr. King ever uttered. As if none of the rest of it—the history, the context, the continuing injustices—mattered even a little.


And now a new surprise: The Beckolytes can’t understand why the “mainstream media” feel compelled to point out that the crowd at their rally, however large it might have been, was overwhelmingly white.


“What’s that got to do with anything?” they wonder.


Well, let’s see…


You throw a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. (That’s Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves.) You schedule this rally on the very same date as one of the great civil-rights marches in American history, and at the very site where Martin Luther King delivered one of the great civil-rights speeches—one of the great speeches on any subject—in American history. You say that you’re “reclaiming” the civil-rights movement, and that you and your followers are Martin Luther King’s true heirs.

And you’re surprised that people actually notice how few black or brown faces are part of your crowd?


Have you considered reclaiming your grip on reality?


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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