I had heard about Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally that he plans to hold on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of MLK Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. While I don’t agree with his decision to choose that combination of day and location, he’s well within his rights to do so. I think that day marks a unique moment in American history, and I wouldn’t want to infringe upon the uniqueness of that day unless I was SURE I had something as important to say as Rev. King’s speech. And to be honest, I don’t think that I’ll ever have something that important to say. I think that Rev. King’s remarks that day were of singular importance in the history of our country. But maybe Glenn Beck really does believe that he has something that important to say, and like I said, that’s his prerogative.
But the other day at The Daily Caller, they had a post that quoted Rev. King’s niece, Alveda King, as saying that if he were alive today, he would attend the rally that “demonstrates the spirit of love and peace and unity.” In her eyes, that’s would be the rally at which she’s speaking: Glenn Beck’s rally. At the same time, the article points out, Ben Jealous of the NAACP has said
“[w]ere Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive today, he would be standing — as he did 47 years ago — with the National Action Network, NAACP and other civil and human rights organizations at the rally marking his true legacy on August 28th.”
So who’s right? Alveda King, or Ben Jealous? In my opinion, neither. I think it is inappropriate on the part of both sides to be trying to claim Rev. King’s endorsement in absentia. Neither of these people can authoritatively speak for him, and neither should. That’s why I was so happy to see Martin Luther King III’s take on it in the Washington Post.
MLK III is one of the people featured on the announcement for the National Action Network rally that will compete with Beck’s. Despite that, his article doesn’t even mention the rally that he will be attending, and only mentions Beck’s rally to say that in addition to honoring the troops, “it is clear from the timing and location that the rally’s organizers present this event as also honoring the ideals and contributions of Martin Luther King Jr.” The rest of the piece is simply a clarification of the ideals that his father preached.
I like MLK III’s piece because it focuses on the ideals of Rev. King rather than the endorsement of Rev. King. Different people can see those ideals expressed in different ways: both the NAN and Beck/Alveda King believe that their respective rallies embody those ideals. But focusing on which he would have chosen is the wrong thing to do. Focus instead on showing how the ideas put forth at each rally embody those ideals. Instead of “What Would MLK Do?”, we should be asking ourselves “What did MLK do, and how can we best promote a culture that lives up to his legacy?”
[Aside: As you may have noticed if you’ve read other posts of mine (especially this one), I frequent The Daily Caller, which styles itself as a conservative alternative to The Huffington Post. I don’t read it because it presents news from a point of view that I agree with; quite the opposite, in fact. I think one of the problems in our national consumption of the media is the tendency to seek out views that we agree with, because they’re less intellectually challenging than well-articulated views that run counter to our own.]