Saturday, August 28, 2010


I understand the impulse of Kate Zernike of The New York Times to try to be scrupulous in talking about the teabaggers and Beckstock participants, but really now:

... It has become an article of faith among Tea Party groups that any racist signs at rallies -- "Go back to Kenya," directed at President Obama, is just one example -- are carried by Democratic plants sent in to make the Tea Party look bad....

Even if Tea Party members are right that any racist signs are those of mischief-makers, even if Glenn Beck had chosen any other Saturday to hold his rally, it would be hard to quiet the argument about the Tea Party and race.

(Emphasis added.)

Just off the top of my head, it's simply not in dispute that a tea party leader wrote an astonishingly racist mock-letter to Abraham Lincoln on his website (and continues to represent the angry right all over the media despite his dismissal from the position he held when the letter appeared). The authenticity of this noted racist teabagger sign is simply no longer in dispute. And the tsunami of racist remarks uttered by Beckstock's guiding spirit in just one week last summer is a matter of public record. None of this makes it into Zernike's story.


One more thought about this rally. I don't accept the notion that there's a battle for ownership of August 28. I don't think Dr. King and the organizers of the '63 March on Washington cared about ownership of the date, but, nevertheless, it's still theirs, for the simple reason that Beck has chosen to try to be an imitator. It's like asking whether the Woodstocks that took place in the 1990s would ever become more famous than the original Woodstock.

Needless to say, I don't buy Beck's line about not knowing the significance of the date and site when he chose them. He chose them consciously -- but that means he chose a message of resentment ("We want our piece of your moral high ground!") over being, even by his own lights, a leader forging a new path. He wants the question of imitation to linger. He prefers to piggyback on dates -- 8/28, 9/12 as a piggyback on 9/11 -- so he can be attacked as a parasite, and then can feel aggrieved and spread that sense of grievance to his flock. That's too important to him. So he'll never "own" this date or any other. He'd rather feel picked on.

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