The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
Glenn Beck, At Lower Right Surrounded By Private Security Guards,
Waits To Begin The Rally behind A Poster Of A Native American
(Photo: Brendan Smialowski, New York Times Online, 8/28/10)
It isn't really important that someone staged a religious rally in Washington, D.C.; that's been done before. The Moral Majority and Christian Coalition have staged them, and the 'Million-Man March' comes to mind.
But this is the first religious rally that is overtly political, a demand to link or merge church and state, organized by evangelical christians with the general theme of turning America back to god -- through the general emergence of a new political force, the vaguely-defined 'Tea Party'.
And it is happening at a time when the mainstream media continually portrays the state of National politics as confused at best and governing against the will of the People at worst. And, this rally is happening at a time when many people are out of work, angry and vulnerable, and ready to listen to a "new message".
The Times stated that NBC news estimated 300,000 people lined the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument; the event's spokespersons said it was half a million. "But," said the Times, "by any measure it was a large turnout," which to me is disturbing.
The Rally (Photo: New York Times / Jacquelyn Martin - AP)
It was organized by Glenn Beck -- an eager entertainer who has the backing of Little Rupert's News Corp., the most powerful media conglomerate on the planet. Ten years ago, Glenny was just another drive-time talk jock. Now, he's standing with the Lincoln Memorial at his back, believing he speaks for god and preaching a mixture of biblical interpretation and Rightist garbage.
The Most Something Name In News: Reflecting Beck's Penchant
For Truthyness And Factitiousness (Screencapture: CNN)
It's a Meaglomaniac's dream come true. However, the phrase, "Jesus wept," is invoked for a reason. There are a large number of people who see Beck attempting to equate his little monologue with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech in the same place, on the same date -- an address of hope and a demand for equality and justice, that has nothing to do with the ego of a tubby con man enabled by a media oligarch. And they're not happy.
"For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” Beck said to a nearly all-Caucasian crowd in a long, rambling speech that repeated themes from his Fox television program, his Clearchannel radio show, and his Web 'University', all of which push a bizarre amalgam of half-truths and boldfaced lies about American history.
"This country has spent far too long worrying about ... and concentrating on scars," Glenny went on. "Today, we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, the things that we have accomplished, and the things that we can do tomorrow.”
"Under God": Tea Party Attendees Recited The Pledge Of Allegiance;
Find A Black Person In This Photo And I'll Pay You 1,000 Quatloos
(Photo: Brendan Smialowski, New York Times Online, 8/28/10)
Speaking of something many of the other tubby white men in the crowd would do, Sarah Palin spoke immediately after Beck; "We must not fundamentally transform America as some would want," Palin said. "We must restore America and restore her honor."
The themes were consistent: America is on the wrong road; we need to regain our honor; we need to look to our glorious past; we need to turn back to religion as the basis for governing the country; and as Beck has been spouting for several years, the Federal government should be reduced in its power, and get out of the lives of its citizens... and all citizens should accept god, and live by godly principles.
Obligatory Cute Dead Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Rant
...the important thing is that all signs are that the next few years will be a combination of economic stagnation and political witch-hunt... This is going to be almost inconceivably ugly.
-- Paul Krugman, "Failure To Rise"; NY Times, August 28, 2010
I believe a large number of people will snort out a laugh about Beck's rally, and his performance, today (even David Niewart, who has kept as close an eye on the totalitarian leanings of America's Right as anyone). After all, they'll say, we've heard all his themes before; nothing new there -- and they'll make fun of him.
But I also think people are uneasy at what they're seeing; all sniggers aside, the rally had a moderately respectable turnout (Definitely not half a million, and not 300,000; but respectable).
And, because Beck wants nothing short of a revolution -- he's as much as said so. His enablers and investors (monkey-gland-fueled oligarchs like Little Rupert, and the Billionaire Boyz Club) think the Tea party will disappear, sooner or later -- but intend to make Progressives spend capital and resources fending it off ...and get something out of it for themselves.
And if it does become something; if the country ends up being ruled by nut jobs like Palin and Bachmann and Paul... well; it's nice to be on the right side of people who believe god speaks to them, isn't it? Because those people usually take a Dairy Queen full of people hostage and then demand money, a fueled jet, and "complete release".
Unless revolutions are seriously non-violent (as Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, or Mahatma Gandhi's long effort to win independence for India, were) and truly have justice and history on their side, they end in two ways -- a coup d'etat, because in order to survive, a government has to share power with the revolutionaries (Germany in 1933); or a seizure of power by force, (the French and Russian Revolutions), usually with some involvement by part of a country's professional military officers.
Who Wants To Swear Allegiance To Anything We Say, Or End Up In
The Gulag? Soviet 'Citizens' During The Purges Of The 1930's
In either case, the revolutionaries need scapegoats. In moving from the Old Order to the New, there will have to be punishments, a comeuppance. And, since it's a Revolution, the old notions of civility, fairness and justice won't apply. The revolutionaries suddenly in power will do whatever is necessary to keep it -- and to survive, people will have to swear allegiance to whatever those in power want them to.
Because in the end, it is all about power; "Where the broom does not sweep," Mao Zedong said, "The dust will not vanish of itself." In order to bring about revolutionary change, the new leaders won't ask a society to do what they want -- they have to demand it, and behind that demand is always the barrel of a gun.
In a political revolution, that's bad enough; ask the Czechs, the Romanians, the Bulgarians and the Russians; the Spanish and the Germans. But in a revolution created by religious True Believers, they will not only want you to agree that two and two make five; you will have to prove to them that you believe it with all your heart. Or else. The only way religious revolutionaries can build consensus is by attacking 'heretics' and 'unbelievers' as defined by their leaders, who claim to speak for god.
Francisco Goya, Inquisition; Prado Museum, Madrid
For example: Non-christians, agnostics or atheists may be identified by others in their neighborhoods to the authorities. They may be ostracized, their businesses boycotted. Eventually, they will be marginalized legally -- at first, laws may be passed requiring only recognized christians to hold public office or civil service jobs; then, to hold any job. Then, to own certain kinds of property.
And while all this is going on, the media is broadcasting the message that since the new leaders are informed by god, directives of the new government are directed by god as well -- in fact, will be equated with god's will. Those against the government, and certain non-christians, are evil; "in rebellion against god"; agents of Satan.
Nazi Auto-Da-Fe In The Operaplatz, Berlin A.R. Moritz, 1938
And, the things these evil people have made -- art; literature; scientific studies; architecture and design and theater ... all of it will become objects of official ridicule and discarded (even, burned in public) as evidence of moral degeneracy.
Exhibition Of 'Entartete Kunst' (Degenerate Art); Münich, 1937 --
An Exhibition Of Art Declared Against The Principles Of German
Culture And Society As Defined By The Government (Wikipedia)
It's inevitable; at some point, witches will have to be be tried. There will be forced confessions (as with the Inquisition, or Soviet Purge trials, or Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge). If the accused don't recant, and accept whatever interpretation of religion the leaders direct as orthodox -- then, it ends in executions and anonymous graves.
Teacher, Photographed Before Execution By The Khmer Rouge
If you think this is science fiction, substitute the word "Jew", or "Homosexual" "Communist" "Monarchist", or "Liberal" for 'non-christian', 'atheist' or 'agnostic', and remember your history (only, recanting an unpopular opinion, or changing religious affiliation did nothing to help the Jews).
If you spend even an hour listening to 'christian' radio, its broadcasts are long, ranting monologues about fire and sin that build slowly to a frenzy -- and always delivered by men, shouting, about seeking out and recognizing the devil and the ungodly, about punishment to come.
Those who punish others out of a claim to know wickedness are blind to it in themselves.
I'm a long way from saying we're on the cusp of a Rightist takeover of the government. More likely, the Teabaggers can try and ram god down the country's throat, and at some point the society will begin to choke. Until then, it will look and feel like the McCarthy era, as incompetent evangelicals run the United States onto the rocks and brand everyone who blames them as agents of Teh Satan.
However, make no mistake: any change of government in this country from its current, secular democratic Republic would have to end in the repression, imprisonment, and murder of anyone whom the new leaders saw as a threat. That is the nature of revolution; there are no exceptions. There never have been.
If Little Glenn Beck has another rally, and more people show up than there were today -- if this is pushed as a "populist" uprising by Right-wing media like Fox and bankrolled by billionaires with revenge on their minds -- then I would take note, and be afraid, because the days of living in a pluralist, secular and diverse society may be numbered.
All that is needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
[-- Quotations: Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797); Taste The Irony ]