28 August 2010

Blow's "I Had a Nightmare"

18 Elul 5770

Charles Blow's piece in today's New York Times is concise and correct.  It is very much worth the read.
Beck wants to swaddle his movement in the cloth of the civil rights movement, a cloth soaked in the blood and tears of the innocent and oppressed, a cloth his divisiveness and self-aggrandizing threatens to defile.
In fact, to even insinuate that the president’s policies are in any way equivalent to the brutality of the Jim Crow South at the time of the civil rights movement is the highest order of insult, particularly to those who lived and suffered through it, as well as to those who live with its legacy. If Beck truly thinks these movements are comparable, I have some pictures of “strange fruit” I’d like for him to see.


EK said...

Rabbi, I enjoy your blogs, and I think you could write much better than this Mr. Blow fellow. I found his column pretty useless. There was nothing new there. He is just a blantant anti-GlennBeckite probably projecting his own sense of inferiority compared to MLK (he wore MLK t-shirts, wow!) onto someone successful with a large following, who while not as articulate as MLK for sure, is actually trying to motivate people to change things for the better. The only surprise about the column was that there was no graph claiming how racist the Tea Partiers are.

It’s fashionable to call the Tea Party a bunch of racists, nuts, or worse, ignorant, and its really getting annoying. Think about it: Why is he commenting before he hears what the content of the speech? Is the column just a Saturday filler? If you read the speech or listen to interviews with him, Mr. Beck’s major themes are 1) equal justice for all, and 2) a turning back towards God. Do you disagree with those ideas?

Yes, Mr. Beck said some things that he regretted later. Who hasn’t? Would it be possible to admit that at least Mr. Beck it trying to be inclusive with regards to race? That he has an endearing aspect of humility about him? That while most in the media have long been robotic mouthpieces for their respective parties, Mr. Beck has been pointing out the injustice done by both for some time now? Can you give him that credit?

If there is no one in the media to stop the cycle of demonizing leaders out of mindless reflex, then it will never stop. Both sides will continue to sink into name calling propaganda. No common ground will be found. Nothing will get done. No tikkun olam, no unity, no renewal. While I don’t agree with everything Mr. Beck says, this is what I believe he is trying to avoid. That’s why I’m standing up for him here.

Andy Bachman said...

EK: Thanks for writing; however, I disagree. Opposing laws and legislation which ensure equal justice for all while "saying" he's for justice for all is simply Beck as political charlatan. I read both Beck's and Palin's speeches from Saturday. As employees of Fox News, they are each perfect representations of a frightening marriage between madness and media. By the time Dr. King was killed, he had begun to wage a war on poverty that would simply not have made him a natural ally of Beck or Palin. Their making use of his memory is perverse. And by the way, Abe Lincoln (with whose likeness many TP"rs posed yesterday) would have shredded Beck and Palin to rhetorical bits.

EK said...

Nice point, but still no credit for what I mentioned above about GB? Also, could you elaborate which laws that ensure equal justice GB opposes? (I'll leave SP out of this and any further discussions).

I think the point is for all to have equal opportunity, not equal results; equality in the pursuit of happiness, not equality in happiness itself. MLK began to wage a war on poverty, but despite the best intentions of good hearted people, how has that turned out? The Torah says there will always be needy among you. It says if you see your fellows ox lying on the road help him. It doesn't say if your fellow doesn't have an ox, give him half of yours. There will never be total equality. The best we can hope for is equal opportunity, honest weights and measures.

If "equal justice" means more than equal opportunity, what exactly does it mean to you?

If it means a general equality for everyone, why not start with you and me? Let's pool assets and divide equally! :) Would this be equal justice?

Andy Bachman said...

The poor will always be among us--the Torah is clear that mostly, that has to do with human greed and a disregard of the Law. Speaking of which, the War on Poverty hasn't ever been fully waged, since most subsequent administrations have attempted to dismantle a progressive tax system, under-funded housing and schools, and rolled back enforcement of civil rights guarantees. Why has the gap betwwen rich and poor and black and white increased? Law and policy, developed and enforced by mostly conservative governments. Regarding Beck, let's start with his cessation of lies about Obama not being a citizen and an evil socialist. If he works to put out fires he started, maybe Beck would be worth listening to. As it is, it's fairly clear he's the mouthpiece for libertarian, right-wing interests.

EK said...

I totally disagree. Can you really say the gap between blacks and whites has increased since the civil rights movement? Hello, black president! What rollback of civil rights? I agree there has been an increase in the gap between rich and poor, but why put race into it? Why so focused on that? Don't forget about the black middle and upper class, or are they an inconvenient truth?

Law and policy have helped equalize opportunity. Discrimination based on race has already been criminalized. Evil people will break the law and take advantage of whoever will part with more of their money more easily, black or white. The problem is with enforcement, prosecution, and punishment. Those are justice issues that are carried out at the individual level. The people, not the government, determines whether justice is carried out morally or not.

And back to the race issue, since there are upper income and lower income among both races, and there is a possibility of vertical economic mobility in this country, is there common variable that can predict the move from wealth to poverty? Perhaps a family that instills the right values in a child? An active community that values morals?
A crime free lifestyle? Could these be more important than state expenditure per pupil, per subsidized housing unit, etc? It would be interesting to know. But the first 3 are something the individual, as a parent, family member, or concerned community member has control over NOW. They have little control of state budgets. This brings me back to Mr. Beck. What he is saying is “Get back to your church, your synagogue, your mosque! Get back to your founding principles.”

(Here's a clip of Mr. Beck from Huffington Post):

And note that Mr. Beck doesn’t oppose gay marriage, so you guys can be political buddies now!
:) Kind Regards,

Andy Bachman said...

A black president doesn't close a gap; it's a symbolic victory--significant but symbolic. You are ignoring economic facts. And by the way, read the account of Beck on Sunday talk shows--immediately after "playing nice" on Saturday, he set out to question whether Obama was a Christian: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/29/AR2010082903889.html?hpid=topnews. What Glen Beck is doing is perverse. I'm sorry you don't see it.