Monday, August 30, 2010

Prospero Goes to Washington D.C.

Here’s a first hand report from one of our Virginia readers about Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally day before yesterday. His email came in yesterday, but what with the Baron’s being away I was too busy to post the account till now.

Like many others, I only watched the Rally on C-Span. Judging by his account, it was definitely not the same as being there.

Where necessary, I filled in information which Prospero couldn’t have collected on the ground — e.g., the names of those receiving awards.


This video seemed appropriate to accompany Prospero's narrative. However, in the rush to post, it was inadvertently left out:

A commenter on this video at You Tube put it well:

The words of the song and the history of the song are both very much on point! It’s time black people forgive the whites and vice versa. It’s time for people for all color to stop wasting time hating one another. It time to join in greater efforts -- like maybe making America a great place for all of us to live!

God bless the piper! We should all follow.
And, now, here's Prospero ---

Wow. What a day, what a crowd, what a transportation nightmare.

The Weather and the Crowd

Through a filter of twenty-four plus hours, the Restoring Honor rally on August 28, 2010 still seems an amazing event. I am underwhelmed by the press coverage, as I expected to be.

The day was clear, sunny, low-humidity, hot, but not the brutal temperatures of the prior two months. The gathering was peaceful (to the annoyance of the Far Left); the crowd overwhelmingly followed Glenn Beck’s guidelines for the rally — namely, no pets, no signs, bring your kids, come to pray and celebrate the honorable among us. I saw two dogs, many kids and people fully engaged in prayer and celebration. There were signs, some political, some religious. All I saw were small and not obstructive. I never saw anyone carrying a sign or banner that was larger than 2x3. Flags were present, mostly hand-held. There were some huge American flags, either unaccompanied, or paired with “Don’t Tread on Me”. There were also military flags.

Getting to Our Spot

We arrived behind the Lincoln Memorial and needed to skirt the reflecting pool area by going through the walkway passed the Vietnam War Memorial. We then had to skirt the Declaration Memorial (and its pond on the outside, toward Constitution Ave.) just to be able to work back toward the crowd at the World War II Memorial.

We set up camp after stopping and participating in the crowd’s recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner”.
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The crowd obviously outstripped expectations as there was no way to hear or see the program from most locations beyond the Reflecting Pool. That was okay since we could still hear over the noise of Reagan National Airport traffic. We certainly heard enough to understand that Beck stayed true to the non-political focus of this rally.

The Program

Sarah Palin spoke about the sacrifices and the honor of the military, as a combat vet’s mom. She also recognized the strength and faith of Marcus Luttrell, the only surviving member of his Seal Team.

There is also a Wikipedia bio on Luttrell that is more in-depth (believe it or not).

The experience of Luttrell and his team was framed by the concept of mercy: when discovered by Afghan civilians, the Seals chose to let them go rather than kill them to insure silence. This humane decision settled their fate; the freed civilians summoned forces and the Team was besieged. The chopper sent to rescue them was shot down. Finally, the lone survivor, Marcus, was saved through the mercy of Afghan tribesmen from Sabri-Minah, a Pashtun village. These Pashtuns follow an ancient, pre-Islamic code of honor, Pashtunwali:

Pashtuns embrace an ancient traditional, spiritual, and communal identity tied to a set of moral codes and rules of behavior, as well as to a linear record of history spanning over five thousand years.

Pashtunwali promotes self-respect, independence, justice, hospitality, love, forgiveness, revenge and tolerance toward all (especially to strangers or guests). It is considered a personal responsibility of every Pashtun to discover and rediscover Pashtunwali’s essence and meaning.

Who Benefits?

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) was the beneficiary of all the profits and donations from this rally. They were the next people feted. A Gold Star mother spoke of her son, Killed In Action while in Air Force Special Operations work. He left behind his wife and eight-month-old son.

In a crowd of that size, and with the need to relay sound, it was amazing that we were able to hear most of her speech. This mom set the stage for the next speaker: SOWF president, Col. John Carney USAF(Ret). He spoke movingly about the mission of the foundation, which is to see to the care of the children of the fallen soldiers in Special Operations.

SOWF was created after the catastrophe of the attempted hostage rescue in Iran in 1980. Currently, it has over five hundred and fifty families on its rolls. SOWF follows the children from the very beginning, when family members are notified of the death of their son or daughter right on through college and beyond. SOWF provides mentoring and assistance and tuition.

During the rally, Beck announced that over five million dollars were raised. (Snarkily, the Washington Post said the total was before the expenses of the event were tallied…Beck’s website and the foundation’s website state the SOWF gets the five million, plus.) [couldn’t find a link to this WaPo story but recall hearing about it — D].

[Note: Donations for these children can still be made, here. Or you can text SOWF to 85944 to make a $10 donation — D]

Merit Badges for Grown-Ups

Badges of Merit were bestowed on three recipients for their representation of Faith, Hope and Charity, respectively.

These medals were based on the Purple Heart-style medal that George Washington bestowed. By the way, the current military Purple Heart, awarded for being wounded in battle, is a construct of the 20th century; Roosevelt instituted it. For years the original concept, meant to honor ordinary people, was lost to history.

Each honoree was preceded by a brief excerpt of Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Remarkably fitting, as none of these individuals is “famous” in the usual sense of the word. [Except perhaps the athlete who received the award for Hope? His obvious spiritual emphasis would explain why he was chosen, despite his fame. — D]

The Badge of Merit for Faith went to a black Texan minister, Pastor Charles Lewis Jackson:

Charles Lewis Jackson of Houston has been the pastor of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church for 44 years. He is a member of the Baptist Ministers Association, the Independent Baptist Ministers Association, and the Texas State Chaplains Association…Jackson serves on the board of the Disaster Team of the American Red Cross. He also serves as a council member of the Harris County Citizen Corporation.
[There isn’t much further information about Rev. Jackson, other than the fact that he contributed to the “Project Deliver the Vote” PAC. Which makes him a Democrat. One wonders how much blowback he’ll get for appearing with Mr. Beck. — D]

The Badge of Merit for Hope went to baseball player Albert Pujols. Through his Pujols Family Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Pujols helps children and adults with Down Syndrome. [Pujols was introduced by his manager and it obvious they were nervous. Someone reported later that they’d been anxious not to be involved in anything “political”. That explains why Mr. Russo was there as his spokesperson and the one who introduced him — D].

The Badge of Merit for Charity went to a billionaire who says his goal is to die broke. Jon Huntsman is a major philanthropist. He is also a Mormon with fifty six grandchildren, one of whom got married on 8/28. In his place Emma Houston to receive his award. Ms. Houston is a cancer survivor who was treated at the Oncology hospital he founded. [In trying to find information on Ms. Houston, I googled the search string Emma Houston at Glenn Beck rally. There wasn’t anything of use on that search, but the first page of hits was full of venom. — D]

Crowd Continues Growing

As they event progressed, we could see the crowd growing, by the minute. The Park police refuse to estimate crowds, but by noon (the rally began at ten a.m.) I would say at least 400,000 to 500,00 people were present. Because the woods on either side of the reflecting pool were packed with people, the aerial photos do not do justice to the crowd. In fact, it is possible that there were significantly over a half million.

Dr. King Speaks. Beck Follows.

The bravest and most beleaguered speaker of the day was Dr. Alveda King, a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Her own father as well as her uncle were killed during the struggle for Civil Rights for black people. Her cousin, Martin Luther King III was participating in Sharpton’s rally. She certainly had ample reason to drop out; after all, Alveda King and Glenn Beck have only known each other about six months. But she bucked the shunning system and took a lot of heat for her appearance with Beck. God Bless her. She received thunderous applause for her message about character and honor as the linchpins of our soul.

Dr. King came with singers and other speakers to proclaim that “The Dream” is not dead. She testified to faith being at the heart of all our endeavors. How remarkable to stand on the Mall and hear a call to heed the Lord. She was, without doubt, the most stirring of the guest speakers.

Beck can be stirring himself. He is as enthusiastic as a convert and unrepentantly patriotic. This is not to say he is uncritical of this country. His most assuredly is free in his criticism of the carelessness with which most Americans treat their system of government and their own future.

Beck’s gift lies in using the Founder’s beliefs, writings, letters and actions to illuminate the deep religious faith shared by most of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. He does not pontificate with the élan of the over-educated elite; he preaches with the fervor of the novitiate. His zeal for a return to faith as the salvation of the Republic is endearing in its sincerity. If the vocal response of the crowd was any measure, they shared his concern.

Saturday was not a banner day for the causes of politics or secular humanism on the Mall.

I have more to tell you about the people we met and the places we visited this weekend, but fatigue and stimulus overload are catching up. Suffice it to say, the experience lifted my spirits and encouraged me to believe that my fellow citizens aren’t detached obliviates. They are impassioned, caring and revitalized.

If Glenn Beck touched off this spark in 500,000 people, good on him.

If each of us who attended does a little old fashioned witnessing that our society is not Godless, self-serving, and disinterested in our own continuance as a “shining beacon on a hill” then, good on us.

Cheers — tired feet and all,


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Prospero’s Afterword

The Washington Post actually managed to cover the rally with a modicum of decency and accuracy, but the MSM seems to still have missed the point. Liberal blogs are outraged, politics are insinuated into the reportage as a way to maintain the insistence that Beck’s motivations are “Tea Party” politics, which remain incorrectly attached to the Republican Party.

Oh well. The main point is that I would estimate that at a minimum 400,000 people gathered on the mall under the aegis of restoring honor in this country.

Postscript from Dymphna: Although it was predictable, the disapproving din (which continues to grow) surrounding this rally still leaves one taken aback. Even the wiki on “Restoring Honor” is surprisingly mean-spirited and negative. As usual, what passes for analysis by the Left, and represented in this wiki is discourteous, derisive, even obscene.

In a section entitled Media Reaction and Response, here’s what they managed to collect (there are links and footnotes at the site):

Leading up to the event, Beck attracted criticism from various media personalities, comedians and writers. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann stated that he was worried about Glenn Beck’s sanity after Beck said that he wanted to let “the spirit” speak through him at the rally. The day before the rally on the same network, Chris Matthews, of Hardball With Chris Matthews, used his ending segment to announce:

Can we imagine if King were physically here tomorrow, today, were he to reappear tomorrow on the very steps of the Lincoln Memorial? I have a nightmare that one day a right wing talk show host will come to this spot, his people’s lips dripping with the words interposition and nullification. Little right wing boys and little right wing girls joining hands and singing their praise for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. I have a nightmare.

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart dubbed the rally “Beckapalooza” and “I Have A Scheme”, while Stephen Colbert announced he was ready to follow Beck in his “silver freedom spaceship that runs on human tears.” Journalist Jason Linkins was critical of what he deemed an “insanely melodramatic video promotion of the rally, replete with Goldline scamflackery”, positing that the “Glenn Beck rally will be like (the) moon landing, Wright Brothers and Rosa Parks all rolled into one massive orgasm of American history.” Author and activist Glenn Greenwald created a website and video entitled “Glenn Beck is Not Martin Luther King Jr.”, which provided a petition featuring over 30,000 signatures the day before the rally, denouncing Beck. Meanwhile Media Matters for America compiled a large compilation [sic] of related clips and excerpts criticizing the event.

A.J. Calhoun, who attended the original 1963 King rally, took offense at Beck’s holding what he called a “rally of right-wingers, Tea Partiers, neoconservatives, fascists, the delusional and the truly wicked, (and) the New Kluxers disguised as patriots wanting something they cannot or will not identify openly.”

That’s not the whole diatribe but it gives you an idea of the tone set by Beck’s detractors. One begins to question; what fear is driving this kind of hatred?

There is one positive note in a very brief section titled Aftermath and Reaction:

Hours after the rally finished, Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal attorney and speechwriter, Clarence B. Jones, said he believes King would not have been offended by Beck’s rally but “pleased and honored”. Jones, now a visiting professor at Stanford University, said the Beck rally seemed to be tasteful and did not appear to distort King’s message.

The benighted creators of this wiki, whoever they are, had the grace (snark?) to say This section requires expansion.

Obviously our media is terribly broken. No wonder it is failing across the board — financially, morally, and intellectually. You have only to open Google and type in Glenn Beck’s name to see the venom frothing down the page. These people are scared and their fear drives them to say and do shockingly ugly things.

Here's a possible remedy. In the name of charity, or at least less malice, these jeering people might spend a profitable hour reading the book, Winners Never Cheat. It was written by Mr. Hunstman, the philantrophist who received Beck's Badge of merit for charity and the proceeds go to his cancer center.

They are obviously in need of something to quell the vitriolic hatred. That kind of poison shrivels the soul...of the ones that spew it.


Dymphna said...


This thread is an ISLAM-FREE ZONE.

This thread is for discussing Glenn Beck's rally and/or the various media reactions to same.

Beach Girl said...

The rally is needed and it is essential that we come together as Americans - under the beliefs of our founders - brave men and women all. There is no hatred in hearts that want to come together and to realize the ideal that is America. One step in coming together is to appreciate what we are coming together for and that is to defend and continue the freedoms and liberties of our great nation - one nation under God. Mr. Beck through himself and his guest speakers was showing love and the need for us to stop being used by the true hate-mongers who are relentless in pointing out our "weaknesses" and failing to mention our combined strengths.

Beck is to be commended for his and his speakers' bravery. As stated, our media is broken which is why some are going out of business.

Thank you for the account and I know those who attended the rally are up-lifted and filled with love and curiosity to learn more. Our founding was a rocky road and not everyone agreed but they left us a legacy that is ours to keep or to throw away. I'm for keeping it and a thank you to Dr. King, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and the piper for filling our hearts with joy.

toro said...

Just a quote from Alveda King speech: "[I have a dream that] white privilege will become human privilege and that America will soon repent of the sin of racism and return itself to honor".
Well, I think this is a racist remark. Privileges? White? Don't say more.

My personal opinion is that despite good intentions, Alveda King's speech was weak. I'm really interested on what you think about this statement.

PS. This is my first post on GoV. :)

Dymphna said...

@ Toro

My personal opinion is that despite good intentions, Alveda King's speech was weak...

You're right: the part about white privilege was a clunker.

Too many white folks have lost out on jobs because of the p.c. laws re Affirmative Action. Such laws have been used cynically and need to be abolished.

OTOH, she wasn't just speaking to the majority white folks at the rally. She was doing a shout out over their heads aimed at her many black and hispanic detractors who want her hide nailed to the wall for even appearing there among The Enemy.

It was inevitable that she'd have to say *something* in order to get home in one piece after she left the podium. No, I'm not exaggerating: that was D.C. after all.

Her 'something' had a bit of truth in it for a lot of people who have experienced up close what she said.

For example, going to visit our son at college was always unnerving, like a step back in time. The custodial employees at the school were 99% black; the student body was, oh, maybe 95% white. Sometimes it felt as though we were back in the 1960s.

The Upper South is variable in that regard -- some places are more open than others.

The Kings are from the Lower South; their family history is peopled with folks who got outta line and paid with their lives for it.

I'm glad she showed up. That was a big deal for Beck. My guess is that she did so out of friendship and out of the hope he would carry on with her father's and her uncle's message.

Sometimes showing up is enough. At least for some of us. Others may not agree but this war has been going on so long that it's hard to care one way or another about anything anymore.

There have been so many judgments made on both sides of this issue and lots of other political hot potatoes that I want to put a sign over my door: