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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beck's Rally: Onward Christian Soldiers

To hear Glenn Beck tell it, America is on a mission from the Christian God. He should know because not only does he talk to God, they have conversations. God even sent him $600,000 [miraculously appeared after pray] to help with the rally expenses. Now God wants you to do your part!

According to Beck, the country was founded by Pilgrims that were motivated by a love of liberty and a search for religious freedom. They didn't really want to come here but God made them do it. No other motivation for the founding of the new world could be considered. The search for gold, the desire for other people's lands, a suitable place to employ slave labor, etc., played no role in his historical narrative. George Washington wanted no more than to be a simple farmer [who owned slaves, I would add.] before he was called by Christ to led the army and then the country. So often during this three hour Glenn Beck fundraiser, he reminded me of Father Merrin in the Exorcist: "The power of Christ compels you, The power of Christ compels you." We simply have no choice in these matters. It is our duty to God. In this modern day version of Manifest Destiny, America is not just entitled to rule the world, it is compelled by Christ to do so. It is the 'white man's burden' for the post racial era.

And just as the profit motive had nothing to do with the founding of the United States, so it has nothing to do with our wars. All have been fought for altruistic motives and on the side of the angels. The millions that have died at the hands of American arms in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, El Salvador, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere play no role in this narrative. Other than as the objects of our gifts of Freedom and Democracy... no that's not quite right ... shall we say our conveyance of the Almighty's universal gifts of Freedom & Democracy, they don't exist. The Tea Party was at the Reflecting Pool to honor the warrior not fret over his victim

Sarah Palin, "the proud mother of a combat vet" led off by telling us that the "warrior's stories are America's story." "Just a mom" Sarah Palin had the honor of introducing three heroes from America's Wars. As she introduced them, each of these heroes was brought out on stage amidst much applause and flag waving. The first was from Iraq. She told a story about how once his squad didn't kill a group of civilians but should have.

The second was the heroic story of a U.S. Marine in Falluja and how he won the Bronze Star. She neglected to tell us that today doctors in the new American hospital in Falluja, we bombed the old one out of existence, are advising the women of Falluja to just stop having babies because the birth defect rate is off the charts. Anyone familiar with the true history of the [Battle|Liberation|Slaughter] of Falluja, including the liberal use of depleted uranium and white phosphorous on civilians, might assume that that is where America's honor got so lost that it now needs restoring. Just in case you were thinking that, Palin is here to tell you that for these soldiers "Honor was never lost."

These are victims of American Willie Petebut they are not from Vietnamthey are from Falluja, Iraq 2005

The third story was about a Marine pilot shot down while on "a routine mission over Hanoi", a city that saw thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths rained down from American Aircraft. He was captured and became a prisoner along with John McCain at that "living hell" known as the Hanoi Hilton. Palin tells us how he described the torture he endured for five and a half years. "There was nothing to do, nothing to read, nothing to write. You had to just sit there in absolute boredom, loneliness, frustration and fear." As Marlon Brando said at the end of Apocalypse Now, "The Horror, the Horror."

from Vietnam: American HolocaustIf you are looking for racism at the Restoring Honor rally, you need look no further than here. It is the way they can bring the world such destruction while seeing themselves as all goodness and light. It is the way the can brand the others as evil while seeing themselves as doing God's work. It is the way they stripe away the humanity of their victims and count their lives in the balance as not even worth an 'honorable' mention.

Anyone familiar with America's wars, wars that since WW2 have almost exclusively been against people of color in poor countries,
knows that they have not been pretty or kind to the children. A special operations warrior is that special breed of soldier who can justify slitting a child's throat in the name of operational security. That is the brutal truth of the matter. I wrote a dairy here at the beginning of the year about the special forces execution of eight schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 14 in Afghanistan. Some see those killers as terrorists but at the rally the Beck and Palin crowd portray them Rambo style as America's own true superheroes, fighting for truth, justice and the American Way. The sullied truth is they are the U.S. government's ultimate goon squad, hired assassins and mass murderers. They are the people the President sends in secretly when he knows he doesn't have any legal justification for his rampage.

Obstinately, the reason for this rally was to raise money for the Special Operations Warriors Fund. They provide money and tuition for families of special operations soldiers killed or wounded on missions. The founder and president of SOWF is James Carney. He was the SO agent who buried the advanced landing lights in the Iranian desert for Carter's disastrous 1980 special forces hostage rescue mission. Other notables on the board of SOWF include Erik Prince of the firm formerly known as Blackwater. Apparently Glenn Beck's deal with SOWF provides that they don't see penny one until all the expenses of the rally are paid. I would think that they could hope for a little more charity from a guy that earned $18 million last year but instead they had to settle for having faith that contributions would be greater than expenses. One wonders just what those expenses might be and whether they might involve a moose for sister Sarah. But enough about them.

The fund raising was nonstop. One of the early ones was that new trick of texting ten dollars. When Glenn Beck made his dramatic appeal saying "These men and women have died in our name, let's take care of their children, let's do it right now." he could have been channeling Saddam Hussein appealing for contributions to the families of suicide bombers.

Sarah Palin was followed by Negiel Bigpond, a Native American "covenant warrior of God" who counseled us to "never look back at the past" and told us we had to become "a covenant of warriors in Christ." He introduced the Black minister C.L. Jackson, who told us of all his personal accomplishments because "God would not let me stop." You can't fight God's destiny. Perhaps sensing that the crowd didn't want to hear from him, he said "Just let me say this, and then I'll be out of your hair." He then told his story, ending with the plead "even a dog is deserving of crumbs."

There was also Deb Argel-Bastian, a military mom who described how her son decided in the 3rd grade that honor meant never breaking a promise, and then in the 5th grade made a promise he would be the best special forces soldier ever. He died young in a foreign land but he kept the promise of a ten year old and kept his honor.

And so it went with speaker after speaker praising Beck, lauding billionaires, promoting this as a Christian nation, as a Warrior nation whose unwilling destiny it was to rule the world, with much fanfare and flag waving and an announcer's voice that sounded like it was from The Running Man. As Glenn Beck himself summed it up in the end, "a global storm is coming and we have to guide the world to safety."

Glenn Beck scheduled his rally to happen on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a Dream" speech, and at the same place, the Washington Mall. It is often forgotten that that famous civil rights march on Washington on August 28, 1963 was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. And while the Tea Party crowd at the Glenn Beck affair might not have much truck with the civil right aspect of the thing, in this economy, you'd think they would be all in with the demand for jobs, which makes it all the more strange that the demand for jobs was never mentioned.

In fact, one of the defining characteristics of this rally was that no demands and no concerns that could possibly make a real difference in the lives of the people there, the demand for jobs, housing, health care or an end to foreign wars for power and profit, would be addressed at all. There were allusions to defending marriage for procreation and protecting our children, even in the womb, but nothing was said about the most vital concerns of the people.

The attempt to co-op Dr. King's legacy was obvious. There was much talk about MLK and even a presentation from a niece of Dr. King, and speaking politically, a very distance niece at that. But what kind of Dr. King did they praise? It was Dr. King, the empty icon. Dr. King devoid of any political content. Dr. King completely whitened, completely blanked by them. When I think of Dr. King, I think first of his leadership of the struggle of Black people for civil rights. To see things that way, you must first acknowledge racial oppression. Instead we are given a man that hoped "God's love will transcend skin color and economic status." Dr. King is also widely regarded for the non-violent methods he advocated in the struggle. These people are here to celebrate warriors. Non-violence didn't get mentioned. Finally, I most honor Dr. King for the giant leap he made near the end of his life by adding our perchance for imperialist wars to his list of causes. Believe me, the Dr. King that called his country the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, was nowhere to be found. MLK Jr., now gutted of any content was hoisted on their petards as another empty icon on the road to world domination. His niece spoke of "soldiers, like Uncle Martin, [that] gave their lives for the freedom of others." It's just what Americans do. We honor God so that He will honor us!

One question that was never clearly addressed at the Restoring Honor rally was just what honor they think was lost and how it had been lost. This was a very slick event mediawise. The Tea Party was told to leave the signs at home, and likewise a lot was understood but unspoken. Great pains were taken to show they weren't racists, in fact there may have been more people of color on the stage than in the crowd. No that's not fair. I couldn't see everyone in the crowd. Still there are these indications that one of their underlying points of unity is opposition to President Obama and all bullcrap aside, they oppose Obama because he is Black. Maybe the Take America Back 2010 t-shirts give a clue. Was America lost as well as her honor when Obama was elected President?

Not that any in the Tea Party oppose him because he is Black. It's not that! We're post-racial. It's all those other things. President Obama spoke to that himself this weekend when Brian Williams asked him what he could do about the poll that showed a fifth of the people falsely think he's a Muslim. He said he couldn't spend all his time with his birth certificate plastered on his forehead. He was saying that the real problem was not his religion or his place of birth, it was something else.

It took me a while to understand the Tea Party's passion for the birther thing. I mean it is so ridiculous, and so completely disproved and yet they still cling to it. There are so many other grounds on which to say someone is not fit to be president, but those won't do for the birthers. They need a reason to say that Obama can't be president by birth, and they can't say what they really feel, maybe even subconsciously, which is that he can't be president because he was born Black, so they cling to this absurd metaphor that he can't be president because he wasn't born here.

And while they fiddle, the Empire burns..

C-SPAN Video Link

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