Of all the ridiculous things Glenn Beck spews on a daily basis, his constant attempts to portray himself as the true heir to the legacy of Martin Luther King has to rank near the top. John Avlon explains why those attempts by Beck and other conservatives is utterly inane:
Likewise, I was struck at Glenn Beck’s rally on the Washington Mall when he paid tribute to Dr. King, also part of a repeated riff on his show, which featured King’s face in a parade of heroes beginning with George Washington.
Last year, in the wake of Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting, Beck’s website offered a more explicit comparison, surreally positioning himself as the inheritor of King’s commitment to non-violence: “Over four decades ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Civil Rights Movement with a philosophy and pledge of nonviolence. In the wake of the tragedy in Arizona, Glenn put forth a similar call for nonviolence.” You just can’t make this stuff up.
On the one hand, its satisfying to see a figure like Dr. King be mainstreamed and admired across the political spectrum—it is a sure sign of progress and societal evolution.
But there is no small amount of irony in conservative populists invoking Martin Luther King—because some of their ideological ancestors were among his most vicious critics…
Polite society rallied against King under the auspices of the White Citizens Councils, appearing most recently as part of the plot line in the 2011 movie The Help.
Contemporary newspapers were likewise far from unified in their support of King, with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat calling King “one of the most menacing men in America today.”
There were roadside billboards scattered throughout the South purporting to show King at a communist training camp.
Adding to this narrative were people like Alabama Governor George Wallace, who told The New York Times in 1963 that “President [Kennedy] wants us to surrender this state to Martin Luther King and his group of pro-Communists who have instituted these demonstrations.”
If Beck’s show had existed during the civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s, he would have been doing to King what he does to every other progressive figure in the country. He would be at his blackboard playing a ridiculous game of six degrees of separation to prove that King was a communist out to destroy the country.