Joan E. Dowlin: Putting a Smiley Face on the Tea Party

It all seemed a little strange on August 28th. Glenn Beck insisted his “Restoring Honor 8/28” rally was a revival meeting, not a “political” event, even though it was backed by such “political” organizations as Freedom Works and featured a speech by one of the most “political” faces of the Tea Party movement, Sarah Palin, and it took place in “political” Washington DC at the Lincoln Memorial, the very spot that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “political” speech, “I Have a Dream,” 47 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad it was a peaceful march and am thrilled that conservatives (I am assuming most at this rally would call themselves that) are embracing the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s just that I am very confused.

Did the same TV and radio talk show host that has been blasting our first African American president for over a year, calling him a Socialist, Marxist, Nazi, Black Liberation theology proponent, radical and, yes, even racist (which it has only taken him 13 months to apologize for) actually plan a religious rally honoring Dr. King, and say he, Glenn Beck, was going to “reclaim civil rights?”

Did he evoke the name of God and speak about faith, hope, and charity and not include gays, atheists, Jews, Buddhists, and Muslims who are also Americans?

Were the rally participants the same people that showed up for previous Tea Party marches with signs (now forbidden by Beck) depicting President Barack Obama as Hitler and the joker? What about the NRA backers with the “We Come in Peace, This Time” signs?

How about those who spat on African American Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.) while calling him the n-word and openly gay Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) the f-word outside the Capitol when Health Care was being passed? Were they there?

If so, this is the most amazing transformation of a movement that I have ever seen. We have gone from screaming, in your face, health care town hall meeting protesters to peaceful, God revering Christians who love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

I wonder how many of these “Restoring Honor” participants were at the original “I Have a Dream” speech of Dr. King? How many watched it on TV and what did they or their older friends and relatives think then?

Excuse my skepticism, but something here does just not add up. I do not doubt Glenn Beck in his sincerity and his religious beliefs. He has every right to lead a rally in DC (even at the same location as Dr. King).

But the timing of this event with the midterm elections being so near and the recent bad press that the Tea Party has gotten after being accused of racism by the NAACP makes me wonder if this is somehow not a staged event to put a smiley face on the Tea Party movement. On Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show, Charles Krauthammer stated that the rally showed the positive side of the Tea Party. I began to question if this is the new GOP talking point and that the whole thing was orchestrated by the neo-cons or the right wing powers to be that are trying to win over swing voters.

Sure Glenn Beck was the planner, but what better spokesperson for Fox and friends than a popular TV host who claims God is using him to lead Americans out of the wilderness of moral emptiness into a Promised Land where capitalists can once again roam free without the pesky interference of big government? Just how gullible do they think the American people are?

As Arianna Huffington stated in her post “Glenn Beck, President Obama, and the Hunger for Purpose in Times of Transition”, Beck’s rally may serve as a means to fill a void for Americans whose values and way of life are being threatened by this turbulent economy and time of transition.

If Glenn Beck has had an epiphany and has embraced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the ideals of the civil rights movement (which was political and spiritual, by the way), I just have a few questions. Does this mean that you, Mr. Beck, will now support our President and stop calling him names and stop mocking his daughter (after complaining that Palin’s family should be off limits)? Do you support gay rights, freedom of religion, nuclear disarmament, peace in the Middle East, affirmative action, and the end of racial profiling? Do you support Wall Street reform, Health Care reform, Immigration reform, ending war, and regulating safety in oil drilling? Do you support clean energy and being good stewards of our planet?

If you can answer in the affirmative to all of the above, then maybe I can become a “believer” in your vision of “Faith, Hope, and Charity”. Until then, we can never achieve the ideals of “equality” and the “pursuit of happiness” that our beloved Founding Fathers spoke of.

And as a liberal, gay, Christian American, I have an abiding faith in God, too; a God that created us all: black, white, gay, straight, male, female, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, conservative, and liberal. I believe the Founding Fathers wanted us all to share in the American dream and I know that Dr. King’s dream and spirit are still alive guiding us toward a true “Promised Land.”

Read more: Tea Party, Restoring Honor 8/28, President Obama, Charles Krauthammer, Freedom Works, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Arianna Huffington, Glenn Beck, I Have a Dream, Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, Politics News

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