Glenn Beck: Progressives' worst nightmare
By John D. Turner
4 Sep 2010

Who would have thought that a radio talk show host, a self-described rodeo clown and recovering alcoholic, could command such a following? And yet, I have seen the pictures. They are undeniable; in particular the one taken from the top of the Washington Monument showing the extent of the crowds.

I speak, of course, of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial, held on 28 August 2010, just a few steps down from where Dr. King gave his “I have a dream” speech 47 years ago.

So how many people were there? There are no “official” numbers. The U.S. Park Service used to provide estimates, but dropped the practice in 1996 after its estimates of 400,000 people attending the 1994 “Million Man March” were hotly contested by the march organizers. It is a bit embarrassing I guess to claim that you will have 1 million marcher’s supporting your cause, then have less than half actually show up; this despite the fact that 400,000 people marching to support any cause is a respectable turnout.

It should be noted that an “exception” to “policy” was made in 2009 for Barack Obama’s swearing in ceremony, and rightly so, as the swearing in of the nation’s first African-American president was undeniably an event of historical importance.

As far as the Beck rally goes, estimates made by various news organizations were all over the map, ranging from “tens of thousands” to “hundreds of thousands,” and everything in between. Media estimates include “from 78,000 to 96,000” (CBS estimate), “more than 100,000” (ABC estimate), and “tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands” (NBC estimate). CNN, who didn’t seem to have a problem counting the crowd for the Obama inauguration, compared counting this crowd to “guessing how many jelly beans are inside a huge jar.”

Really. Guess it was just too much for "the most trusted name in news."

Event organizers estimated between 300,000 and 500,000 people in attendance. We may never know precisely, and undoubtedly, the numbers will be debated for years. No matter the exact totals however, it is evident from the pictures that turnout was heavy with lots of folks in attendance.

The people came because Glenn asked them to come. He asked them to leave their protest signs and t-shirts behind; this wasn’t about politics. He asked them to be polite and to be good stewards. He told them it would potentially be a life changing experience for many in the country; that it could be the start of a new direction for our nation, but that for it to be so would be up to us.

The media of course, didn’t buy into this. How could it be anything but political? The left takes it on faith that Glenn Beck is a right-wing hatemongering bigot. (They don’t even have to watch his show to know that; Keith Olbermann, among others, is more than happy to point it out for them. And they call Rush’s fans “mind-numbed robots.”) So of course the event was just going to be about a bunch of angry white guys preaching hate and pining for the “good old days” before the civil rights era. Why else would he have scheduled the rally for the anniversary of the “I have a dream” speech and do so on the very location where Dr. King gave that speech in the first place?

The left had their preemptive shots. The media waited with baited breath for the anger, the hate, the discontent. Reverend Al Sharpton, who was holding his own rally (“Reclaim the Dream”, which he put together after Glenn announced his rally) on the same day nearby, stated the day before the event that Glenn Beck’s Rally “distorts King’s dream.” The purpose of Sharpton’s rally? To counter Glenn Beck’s event and honor the anniversary of MLK’s speech, which Glenn was supposedly usurping.

Even the Government got into the act. The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan actually sent an email to more than 4000 employees, urging them to join him at the “Reclaim the Dream” rally and march. I leave it to you to determine the appropriateness of that. Incidentally, Mr Duncan is another of Mr. Obama’s Chicago carpetbaggers. Previous to becoming Secretary of Education, he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.

Apparently the employees at the Department of Energy either didn’t get the memo, or else weren’t as interested as their boss (who spoke at the rally). Only around 3000 total people were reported to have turned out for Rev Sharpton’s rally, which had a much different flavor and tone from Beck’s. Guess that must be that liberal “tolerance” in action.

“Let the line stretch”, Sharpton cried, “They’re already going to say there were only 2,000 or 3,000 of you heare.” Sounds like Sharpton had a pretty good handle on the size of his crowd. In fact, I haven’t been able to locate any reporting by the MSM anywhere on the internet that indicates that the turnout was any larger than that. And you would think if it were that they would be shouting it from the rooftops. Even CNN would be able to count the number of jelly beans in that jar.

It has been much ballyhooed in the media that Glenn’s attendees were mostly white. And that appears to be the case. However, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc, were by no means excluded. There were many in the pictures I saw. I have seen estimates that there were 45,000 Americans of African descent present at Glenn’s rally. I don’t know how these numbers were calculated, but if true, there were many more blacks at Glenn’s rally, by total numbers, than there were at Sharpton’s.

I really could care less how many people of what color were where, but since the media seems to think it a big issue when it comes to Beck’s rally, then I don’t see why it shouldn’t be a big issue when it comes to Sharpton’s rally. Or perhaps the media really does think that blacks “own” this day, as the good Reverend Sharpton said during his speech.

But just as this rally was not about politics, neither was it about race. The rally was about America; it was about the founders; it was about the military; and it was a call for the people of our nation to turn our face back to God.

Anyone who has actually been watching Glenn Beck recently knows that much of what he has been talking about has been American History, primarily around the time of the Revolutionary War. A lot of what he has presented has had to do with religion, and the part it played in the founding of our country; not just in our founding documents, but in the actual fighting of the war itself. Indeed, a case can be made (and Glenn makes it), that had it not been for religious leaders across the colonies, the revolution might have been lost. Or perhaps, might not have even been fought at all.

Collectively, this group of preachers was termed by the British “the Black Robe Brigade”. The name comes from the ecclesiastical vestments worn by these men of the cloth. The Brits gave much credit to these individuals for “fanning the flames” of rebellion in the colonies, and making the revolution a success. Certainly more credit than we today give them in our high school history curriculum.

Barack Obama has been touted by the left as a “uniter”; someone who can knit together the different groups and factions in American society under one banner, and lead us all together as one big happy family into a bright, progressive utopia. I for one can’t see it. The country seems as deeply divided as ever before, perhaps more so. Still, the left calls him a uniter. If only there were no nay-sayers, why then we would all be united!

Glenn Beck as a uniter? Who would have seen that one coming?

Certainly the left would not label him such. And certainly, he will never unite the progressive left to his cause. However, at his rally on the mall, I saw something that I really never thought I would see. Glenn seems to have managed to resurrect the Black Robe Brigade, under the new nom de Guerre of The Black Robe Regiment. There on stage were 240 religious leaders representing not only various flavors of Christianity, but also Jews, and even Muslims. There may have been other faiths represented as well; I really don’t know. But there they were. Arm in arm. Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, men and women. I won’t say they were singing kum by ya, and yes, they have their differences. But nevertheless, there they were, united in purpose.

Were these all conservatives? Were these all Republicans? I doubt it. Some of those on that stage undoubtedly voted for Barack Obama. Some are most probably registered Democrats.

Brave men all. Do you think there will be no repercussions for their appearance? When those black preacher’s go back to their congregations, the majority of which supported Barack Obama for president, do you think that they won’t have some explaining to do? When those Jewish Rabbis go back to their synagogues, where their congregations undoubtedly supported Barack Obama for president, do you think that they won’t have some explaining to do?

How about those Muslim leaders, albeit few, that had the courage to be there? Do you think that that they won’t have some explaining to do back at the mosque; not only from those who attend their mosque, but from their fellow imams as well? Publicly consorting with Christians and Jews, upholding the traditions of America; these men may well be facing death at the hands of their more radical elements.

And let’s not leave out the evangelicals. I mean, come on. Beck is a Mormon! How could they share a stage with him? If you don’t think they will get some heat from their flock and from other evangelical leaders for that, then you don’t know much about evangelicals.

And as for the Mormons, I don’t know if there were any other than Beck on that stage. But I am sure that there are those within the Mormon faith who are upset as well. One thing I do know about people; they are people. If you give them any excuse at all to be upset about something, some of them will.

And yet, there they were. All on stage, united in this one thing. That America stands desperately in need of turning her face back to God. Amongst the 240 gathered there, there were probably 250 different interpretations of doctrine, even different interpretations of the nature of God and his relationship with his creation. Certainly, there were political differences as well. No matter; this was not a political rally. And it wasn’t a religious rally either, insomuch as being about differing doctrines or paths to heaven. It was much more basic than that, and on that basis agreement and common cause could be made.

Years ago, when Glenn Beck first appeared on CNN, I told my wife that he was dangerous. “The left is going to have to do something about that man”, I told her. “He presents a clear and present danger to everything they stand for and want to accomplish. What’s more, he will be able to mobilize people to his position because he is sincere, and it shows.”

Glenn Beck is a lot like Sarah Palin in that regard. He resonates as an honest, sincere man. You may disagree with him on some of the issues, but you have to admit his sincerity. Like Sarah, he comes across as a “real person.”

Predictably, the left’s approach was to ridicule and marginalize. This works well with their crowd of self-licking ice cream cones. It is easy for the left to convince their followers that someone is an idiot and not worth listening to. And while he was on CNN, his impact was marginalized as well. Most conservatives don’t watch CNN (just like most liberals would not be caught dead watching Fox News), and the viewership for Glenn’s show was very small. Likewise, CNN kept him on a very short leash when it came to what he could and could not say or do. Even so, for CNN’s audience, Glenn was a radical departure and there were many who applauded when he left.

How short sighted. I guess they thought that his going to Fox news would be the end of him; that he would disappear into obscurity. After all, nobody they know watches Fox news…

Glenn moved to Fox; and he metastasized.

Who would have thought that a show that airs at 5 pm Eastern Time could ever be so popular? Heck, most folks aren’t even home from work yet! I have to DVR it and watch it later myself. And yet, week after week it is number three in the ratings, sometimes bumping Hannity for number two. And the spinoffs. Would there have been anything like the 9-12 project without Glenn Beck? What about the renaissance in interest in American History? People are buying history books for crying out loud, based on the recommendations of Glenn Beck!

And how about the format of his show itself? There is nothing else like the Glenn Beck show on TV today. He appears to have been given a free hand when it comes to how his show works and what he does with it. No one else even comes close to touching the issues Glenn touches on a daily basis. He has arguably had as big an influence on conservative talk television as Rush Limbaugh has had on conservative talk radio.

The left isn’t cheering now. I don’t know how many death threats Glenn receives every day, but I am sure that he gets them. You never see his family with him or even pictures of his family which, I am sure is for their own safety.

It was telling to me that he felt the need to do the “Restoring Honor” rally in a bulletproof vest.

Additional Sources:

I had to put this in, just for the comedic value. Was Mr Valeriani at the same rally I watched? Was he even on the same planet? This article sounds like it fell thru a rift from an alternate unreality.
News Update”, Richard Valeriani, Huffington Post, 30 Aug 2010