08.30.2010 0

Glenn Beck, Tea Party Activists Reaffirm Civil Rights, Founding Period As NYT Recycles Bogus Allegations

By Kevin Mooney — False allegations of racism aimed against Tea Party activists who favor constitutional restraints on federal power predictably resurfaced in a New York Times report that sought to discredit Glenn Beck’s Washington D.C. rally. Reporter Kate Zernike has a long history of invoking race as a way to discredit and marginalize Tea Party activism.

As TimesCheck has previously noted, there is a concerted effort in the news media to interlink small government activists with radical elements. “They tend to be white and male, with a disproportionate number above 45, and above 65,” Zernike laments in an earlier report. Their memories are of a different time, when the country was less diverse.”

The data does not substantiate the allegations. Even the New York Times/CBS poll, which typically oversamples Democrats, concluded Tea Party activists were sophisticated and well-educated. There’s also a Washington Post/ABC Poll that shows 20 percent of voters concur with the Tea Party’s economic concerns; that’s hardly suggestive of an irrelevant, radical fringe.

Glenn Beck, the Fox News conservative broadcaster who joined forces with the Tea Party in Washington D.C., has been accused by some of dishonoring the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. Beck’s rally at the Lincoln Memorial took place on the 47th anniversary of King’s civil rights speech.

Zernike opens her “Political Memo” by citing unnamed critics who have made claims of racial insensitivity.

“It seems the ultimate thumb in the eye: that Glenn Beck would summon the Tea Party faithful to a rally on the anniversary of the March on Washington, and address them from the very place where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech 47 years ago,” the report says. “After all, the Tea Party and its critics have been facing off for months over accusations of racism.”

The overarching purpose of the rally was to help reclaim the ideals civil rights movement from corrupt political elements that have a separate agenda, Beck explained in an interview with Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday.

On his radio program, Beck has argued that many of the key points King made in his “I Have a Dream” Speech have been lost. Organizations like the National Association of Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) and the Congressional Black Caucus are off the mark in the criticisms and have lost sight of long-standing principles, Tea Party leaders have suggested.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” King declared.

In her article, Zernike quotes from portions of Beck’s radio program that she later seeks to discredit and dismiss.

“We are the people of the civil rights movement,” Beck is quoted as saying. “We are the ones that must stand for civil and equal rights, justice, equal justice. Not special justice, not social justice.”

While it’s perfectly appropriate to question and analyze Beck’s commentary, the report proceeds to give critics a free pass. If Beck is so far off the mark, then why are self-described civil rights organizations like the NAACP pushing race based affirmative programs that discriminate on the basis of skin color?

Although the liberal news media has thus far failed to provide any concrete, tangible evidence of coordinated racism within Tea Party events, Zernike implies that these elements will be uncovered and exposed in due time.

“It has become an article of faith among Tea Party groups that any racist signs at rallies – `Go Back to Kenya’ directed at President Obama, is just one example – are carried by Democratic plants sent to make the Tea Party look bad,” she wrote.

For that matter, it is an “article of faith” among liberal media elites that the  best way to silence and shut down libertarian movements is to equate federalism and constitutionalism with racism.

Consider the following:

“In the Tea Party’s talk of states’ rights, critics say they hear an echo of slavery, Jim Crow and George Wallace. Tea Party activists call that ridiculous: they do not want to take the country back to the discrimination of the past, they say, they just want the states to be able to block the federal mandate on health insurance.”

She doesn’t stop there:

“Still, the government programs that many Tea Party supporters call unconstitutional are the ones that have helped many black people emerge from poverty and discrimination,” the report continues. “It is not just that Rand Paul, the Republican nominee for Senate in Kentucky, said that he disagreed on principle with the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that required business owners to serve blacks. It is that many Tea Party activists believe that laws establishing a minimum wage or the federal safety net are an improper expansion of federal power.”

All very debatable propositions.

There’s a considerable amount of scholarship that shows how government programs have actually perpetuated dependency and poverty. The point about the minimum wage is equally problematic. Younger Americans just entering the workforce, be they black or white, tend to suffer the most when federal officials coerce higher wages.

An argument can be made that Tea Party activists are much closer in mind and spirit to the sentiments expressed by Dr. King than the contemporary civil rights establishment.

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check,” he said in his speech. “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked `insufficient funds.’ But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation…”

Unlike their liberal media critics, Tea Party activists understand that it is the ideals of the founding period and the constitutional order that helped make liberty possible in the first place; not bankrupt government programs.

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