June 4, 2010

Glenn Beck seems to be on a crusade of sorts to try to claim the Civil Rights Movement for conservatives. Lotsa luck with that, big guy.

Yesterday on his Fox News show he opened a segment with this:

Beck: I told you this summer that we are going to concentrate on restoring history. The history of our nation, the founding, the 20th century, the Depression era, um, and the Civil Rights Movement, which has been co-opted by progressives.

Of course, if Beck wants to make this claim, he won't be "restoring" history, unless by "restoring" you mean "utterly falsifying and inverting on its head".

Because, of course, as we've explained several times, the Civil Rights Movement from its very inception was a progressive cause. Beck's favorite Civil Rights icon, Martin Luther King, was a leading advocate of the same "social justice" that Beck now openly despises.

This whole project of Beck's -- built around his August 28 "Restoring Honor" rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial -- is more than a little peculiar. It's become evident he wants to claim the mantle of the Civil Rights Movement for he and his fellows on the American Right.

There's only one little problem with all of that: Not only was the Civil Rights Movement a progressive cause from the start, it was the American Right that opposed, attacked, condemned, and undermined the Civil Rights marchers at every turn. It was conservatives, the Glenn Becks of their day, who publicly reviled them and inspired the deadly lynch mobs and Klansmen who committed acts of violence against them.

Indeed, some of their propaganda looks more than a little familiar, don't you think?


This, you see, was a flier that was distributed widely as part of a campaign to discredit King as a Communist. Among the formost leaders in that campaign, especially among Mormons, was none other than the Church's future president, Ezra Taft Benson.

Here are some prime quotes from Benson:

“LOGAN, UTAH-Former Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson charged Friday night that the civil-rights movement in the South had been ‘formatted almost entirely by the Communists.’ Elder Benson, a member of the Council of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a public meeting here that the whole civil-rights movement was ‘phony.’” (Deseret News, Dec. 14, 1963)

“The Communist program for revolution in America has been in progress for many years and is far advanced. While it can be thwarted in a fairly short period of time merely by sufficient exposure, the evil effects of what has already been accomplished cannot be removed overnight. The animosities, the hatred, the extension of government control into our daily lives–all this will take time to repair. The already-inflicted wounds will be slow to heal. First of all, we must not place blame on the Negroes. They are merely the unfortunate group that has been selected by professional Communist agitators to be used as the primary source of cannon fodder. Not one in a thousand Americans–black or white–really understands the full implications of today’s civil-rights agitation. The planning, direction, and leadership come from the Communists, and most of those are white men who fully intend to destroy America by spilling Negro blood, rather
than their own.

Next, we must not participate in any so-called ‘blacklash’ activity which might tend to further intensify inter-racial friction. Anti-Negro vigilante action, or mob action, of any kind fits perfectly into the Communist plan. This is one of the best ways to force the decent Negro into cooperating with militant Negro groups. The Communists are just as anxious to spearhead such anti-Negro actions as they are to organize demonstrations that are calculated to irritate white people.

We must insist that duly authorized legislative investigating committess launch an even more exhaustive study and expose the degree to which secret Communists have penetrated into the civil rights movement. The same needs to be done with militant anti-Negro groups. This is an effective way for the American people of both races to find out who are the false leaders among them” (Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference Report, Oct. 1967).

See, in order for Glenn Beck to convince his fellow conservatives to claim the mantle of the Civil Rights movement, he essentially has to persuade millions of people who have opposed it with every fiber of their beings for most of their lives to completely reverse course and claim the opposite of their former beliefs.

This is the juncture where Beck's "Civil Rights" campaign runs smack into one of his own long-running threads -- namely, he has doggedly accused the Obama administration of harboring "Marxists" and "Communists": that was, after all, the predicate of his attacks on Van Jones. That happens to be consonant with Beck's running espousal of the works of Mormon leader W. Cleon Skousen -- a man who was in fact a close friend and ally of Ezra Taft Benson's, and shared Benson's belief that Martin Luther King was a secret Communist.

One hopes that, before Glenn Beck mounts the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August, the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement -- especially those survivors who were present when conservatives were their self-declared enemies and progressives were their only allies -- will speak up and condemn this travesty.

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