From his vantage point high above one end of the National Mall, the Great Abe has a majestic view of some of our capital city’s most prestigious prime real estate.
And, too, of some significant historic events.
Here, 47 Augusts ago, he looked out over thousands gathered at his memorial’s steps to hear Martin Luther King, Jr., say, “I have a dream.”
This August, a few weekends ago, our venerable 16th president sat through another gathering at his front porch, this one called forth by reich-wing broadcaster Glenn Beck to as much as tell ‘em, “I have a scheme.” More like a nightmare, to some.
Abe was probably sitting there thinking, “I really wish I could get up and go take a powder,” but – damn marble! – he was glued to his seat. And so, had to endure all the hot air emanating from the hotheads on that hot, end-of-summer day.
Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally – “Beckapalooza” and “tent-less revival,” as it was variously labeled – had all the flavor and smell of a Billy Graham crusade intersecting with a political rally.
“You’re going to see the spirit of God unleashed, unlike you have ever seen it before,” Saint Glenn the Grandiose predicted before the rally. “At least at a public function.”
I wonder if God got the memo beforehand that he was to unleash his spirit at the great Beck confab. Perhaps God had decided in advance to take a vacation. Or the weekend off. Washington is pretty stuffy and muggy this time of year. Maybe God doesn’t like to be in D.C. in August. Perhaps he opted to hit the beach instead.
Wrote CNN political analyst Roland Martin: “Now that we are a week removed from the march on Washington organized by the self-proclaimed rodeo clown, Glenn Beck, it’s clear that the event was nothing more than an exercise in ego worship.”
Ohhh. So that’s who was really being worshipped. (“All hail the exalted messiah of our modern-day era, the self-anointed savior of the Republic, the Great Beck!)
Martin added (the parenthetical inserts are his): “It’s still unclear if the event was about the troops, restoring the honor of America (whatever that is defined as), an effort to reclaim the civil rights movement (I’m still laughing at that one), or a tent revival intended to move Americans closer to God.”
“Beck has built a movement framed by two ideas that are unassailable, God and country,” wrote syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker. “Throw in some Mom and apple pie, and you’ve got a picnic of patriotism and worship.” No thanks, I’ll take my apple pie with whipped cream, hold the holy sanctimony.
Beck brashly proclaimed to his followers that Saturday like a Moses on a mount: “America today begins to turn back to God. For too long, this country has wandered in darkness.”
Oh, really? In what clause of our Constitution does such a “nation of God” mission statement appear? And were it so, exactly whose God? Which denomination’s? Which sect’s?
In a week following one grandstanding Florida pastor chomping at the bit to hold a nationally-televised bonfire (“Hold the marshmallows and weenies, we’re having a Koran roast!”), it’s time to take stock, folks, of all the hullabaloo that has been soaking up our airwaves and splattering across our online news sites and blogs of late:
Intense emotions over a planned mosque at Ground Zero. Intense emotions over a planned Koran burning. Intense emotions at an outdoor rally in D.C. intended to return America to God.
Lately, it’s been like a three-ring circus for the holy rollers.
“Over here in this ring, we have the pyromaniacal wonder of Gainesville, who will burn this stack of Korans without missing a publicity shot or interview. Over here in this ring, we have a vociferous pack of Christians and Jews who will see how loud they can – if possible – shout down the construction of a Muslim mosque at Ground Zero.
“And over here in the center ring, we have the Great Glennini, who will attempt to corral a nation of incorrigible heathens and deliver them obediently back into God’s cage.”
On the matter involving that other hotly-debated sideshow, the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, I side with those against the mosque, but for an entirely different – and likely, unique – reason:
I don’t want any religious-oriented edifice going up on the site. Whaddya thinka that?
No mosque, no church, no synagogue, no temple, no shrine. Nothing religious-oriented. Isn’t it enough that one of the chief contributing cancers that spawned the idea, the conspiracy, the plot, the plan to blow up the Twin Towers and rain down so much hate and hostility upon an often-self-described Judea-Christian society which those Muslim terrorists perceived as an enemy – was religion? Or, more specifically, one group of people’s intolerance for another’s religion, and vice versa?
If you’re going to build anything there at all, let it be a school. Yes! A brilliant idea. A school. One for the young, to inculcate them to steer clear of the hot-headed, destructive intolerance of religion. Do we really need one more religious building anywhere, not just at Ground Zero? What we need are more schools, more institutes, more universities. More buildings dedicated to fostering understanding, respect, and mutual tolerance of people whose cultures differ from ours, and ours from theirs.
How about that for a change? Less of what separates and divides us (religion) and more of what instills knowledge, sparks enlightenment, and promotes peace (education).
The “our god is better than your god” and “our Bible is better than your Torah is better than your Koran is better than any holy book of yours” crowd has provided quite a bit of interesting diversions these last few dog days of summer. So now let’s hope the circus has left town for good.
But does it really ever leave for good? Not on your life. Not as long as spotlight-hugging ringmasters like Glenn Beck are around and in our faces, sure to return to give us yet more horse-and-monkey shows to rival anything Barnum & Bailey’s got.
WHAT SO PROUDLY WE HAILED
(ALL EXCEPT CARLOS)
Miami Herald. Aug. 22 issue. Page 2B. Upper right-hand corner. Examine the photo, shall we?, accompanying a story on the grand opening of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s newest training center in Doral.
In the photo, a flag-bearing honor guard faces an audience of dignitaries and the general public gathered for the ceremony. All are on their feet, singing the national anthem. There, in the front row are local officials, including a few county commissioners: Natacha Seijas, Pepe Diaz,…
Why, there – in the middle of the front row – is County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. Look closely. Can you spot the incongruity? Everyone but hizzoner has his or her hand across their heart as they’re singing their loyalty to the flag, which, as every school boy and girl is taught, is the proper decorum for such an occasion.
But Carlos the Arrogant (a police officer by training, and a former chief, so what’s his excuse?) just stands there, hands clasped together in front of him, the American flag not more than five feet directly before him. Hmmm. Intriguing.
If that were Obama, the press would be all over him, Limbaugh, Beck & Co. would be decrying him as a godless commie, and the Tea Party crazies would be sniping,
“WELL WHAT D’YA EXPECT OF SOMEONE WHO ISN’T A GEN-YOU-WINE AMERICAN-BORN CITIZEN, AND IS A PINKO-SOCIALIST AND CLOSET MUSLIM TO BOOT?!”
What’s your excuse, Mayor?