By Bill Press
Tribune Media Services
He’s already launched a radio and TV show, written several best-selling books, organized Tea Party rallies, launched a voter registration drive, and performed his own stand-up comedy tour. So what’s the self-described “recovering alcoholic rodeo clown” do next to feed his massive ego?
How ‘bout a rally at the Lincoln Memorial? That’s exactly what megalomaniac Glenn Beck is planning next. He bills it as the “Restoring Honor Rally.” Organized to support our troops, he says, “on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.” The rally is scheduled for Aug. 28 — 47 years to the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his magnificent “I Have a Dream” speech at the same location.
God forbid! It’s outrageous that the National Park Service would even consider granting a talk show host permission to occupy that sacred site on that historic day. It’s like granting al-Qaida permission to hold a “Hate America” rally at Ground Zero on Sept. 11.
Once I heard about it, I contacted the National Park Service (NPS), only to discover that, as is usually the case with Glenn Beck, he’s not always telling the truth. Despite his nonstop promotion of the event, for example, Beck does not yet have a final permit for the rally. He may get it; he may not. According to Bill Line, communications officer for the NPS, negotiations are still under way. Meanwhile, Beck is inviting people to the rally, soliciting donations to help pay for it, and selling T-shirts and posters. Caveat emptor.
Nor would the rally, if approved, be held, as Beck insists, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It would be staged, instead, on the steps of the Reflecting Pool, in front of and across the service road from the structure — with, of course, the imposing memorial in the background.
Beck’s not honest about supporting the troops, either. True, on the rally Website, he solicits tax-deductible donations to the “Special Operations Warrior Foundation,” an organization founded 30 years ago to raise funds for wounded members of the Special Forces and their families. Sounds good, until you read the fine print at the bottom of the Website: “All contributions made to the SOWF will first be applied to the costs of the Restoring Honor Rally taking place on Aug. 28, 2010.” Only leftover funds, after Beck pays for his party (and speaking fee?), will go to the troops.
But Beck doesn’t mind stealing money from our troops to feed his Washington Mall-sized ego. “If you come, I believe this may — and it may be in a hundred years from now, or 200 years from now — I believe this will be remembered as the moment America turned the corner,” he told his radio listeners. By that time, no doubt, he expects it will be called the Beck Memorial, no longer the Lincoln Memorial — with him, and not Poor Abe, sitting on the marble throne.
There’s no way this television huckster should be given permission to hold the Lincoln Memorial hostage on Aug. 28, or any other day. And, no matter what some fuzzy-brained liberals might say, it has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Nobody’s attempting to deny Glenn Beck his freedom of speech. He can spout his toxic talk on national radio and television every day. And there are many other possible venues for his political showmanship.
Let him rent Fed-Ex field or Yankee Stadium, but not the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a living tribute to the memory of our greatest president. And also to Marian Anderson, who gave her concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, after she was denied permission to perform in Constitution Hall. And, of course, in our lifetime, it’s a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., who came “to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now” and share his dream that “one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as brothers and sisters.”
Our great national shrine should not be polluted by the hateful rhetoric of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. The National Park Service should, instead, honor the memories of Abraham Lincoln, Marian Anderson and Martin Luther King Jr. — and keep politics and Glenn Beck away from the Lincoln Memorial.
© 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.