Truncated Reality: Of Glenn Beck's Rally, Lingering Questions About Obama's Religion & the Like
One would be really hard-pressed to find a comparable time in this country’s checkered past when reality, both in historical and contemporary terms, became so uncontrolled, quirky and prejudicial. It is almost like our sensibilities and general ability to recount or appreciate simple facts about our common existence have effectively been emasculated by a new realm of consciousness; one that is grandiosely alluring but irrefutably fleeting.
Quite frankly, the lines seem to be getting blurry at such a dizzying pace that it is hard, especially in this age of the 24-hour news cycle (with its attendant disjointedness), to distinguish the real from the contrived.
On the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which is by far the most resplendent example since the years of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment of racist treachery by Washington, it was particularly difficult to witness Brian Williams question President Obama’s faith and citizenship behind the backdrop of what he indicated were recent poll results showing that 20-25% of Americans believe he’s Muslim. Having such buffoonery posited in this way by news organizations that are ordinarily viewed as reputable or mainstream cheapens the discourse and grants its proponents an undeserved air of legitimacy.
The phrasing of the question itself should be deeply disturbing to any moderately intelligent, fair-minded person. It’s almost as if to say that being Muslim has now become a crime, a plague or some kind of terminal affliction in this country.
Fact is, nothing Obama does will ever pacify this constituency. Not his birth certificate (which has been repeatedly investigated, authenticated and splattered all over the internet) and certainly not his impassioned protestations.
A few weeks prior, Andrew Breitbart, an obscure conservative blogger, maliciously and most criminally edited a video of an African-American USDA field official as to suggest that she willfully denied a white farmer the help that he so rightfully deserved. The incomplete, misleading, misrepresented footage of this speech was quickly picked up by right-wing pundits before surreptitiously filtering into more respected news outlets.
Before long, a major furor had developed over what clearly emanated from Breitbart’s demented imagination and by the time the sordid flap ran its course, Shirley Sherrod’s illustrious career was cut short.
Then there was the raging controversy over the proposed citing of a new mosque complex about two blocks from Ground Zero which many felt would be desecrative of the souls of the thousands (including Muslims) that perished on 9/11.
Granted that as American citizens, it is within the constitutional rights of the sponsors of the project and Muslims at large to build new places of worship in locations of their choosing in accordance with existing local codes and stipulations, the objectors felt it was simply too injurious to their taste!
Just this past weekend, Glenn Beck held what was called a revivalist rally at the Lincoln Memorial as part of a drawn-out campaign to “take back” America; restore the country’s honor and return it to its founding spiritual values.
What a transformation! Beck, an opportunistic conservative provocateur and shock merchant whose livelihood depends exclusively on the degree to which he’s able to spew what’s easily the vilest, most reprehensible, and sometimes neurotic strand of speech on the political landscape today, now reportedly calling upon the hundreds of thousands of ‘the faithful’gathered at the rally to “turn back to God!”
Truth is, Beck, like many others in his vein, is only interested in whatever garners him as much attention as he deems necessary to see him through to the next multi-million dollar contract negotiations with his financiers.
What in Beck’s Mormon credentials ordinarily qualifies him for this new role as a revivalist or religious crusader? When did he shed the libertarian skin that many evangelicals find objectionable principally because it is antithetical to their so-called family values conservatism?
Having Beck ascend the grandest stage of his career in the manner that was witnessed last Saturday on what was supposed to be the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech (arguably the most luminous, transformative political speech of modern American history) is painful but, like all the other occurrences referenced in this editorial piece, instructive.
Reasonable, open-minded Americans must be vigilant and prepared to check the excesses of minority interests on the fringes of the political spectrum, especially when shepherded by a rash coterie of opinion-molders blinded by the wildest desire for self-aggrandizing power and influence. Allowing the blurring of reality to fully take hold, such that truth becomes indecipherable from lies, and a new climate of fear to envelope the nation’s psyche may result in ruinous or insufferable consequences for our survival as a polity.