Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dr. Martin Luther King would probably not be so thrilled about Glenn Beck using his legacy.

In the wake of Glenn Beck assuming the Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr upon the very steps where Dr. King stood looking out upon a great gathering to share a his hope for the future of American race relations, one question stood out in my mind. While Dr. King would continue to be hopeful for the United States, his eyes would reveal an ugliness that would cause him great consternation.

The roiling national controversy sparked by the Cordoba House. Also known as the "Ground Zero Mosque." I refuse to call it the "Ground Zero Mosque" in that it is neither where the World Trade Center Towers once stood, nor is it only a mosque.

From New York to Indiana to California, a renewed vitriol is directed at Muslims and their faith. Protests abound, raising false claims about the Islamic faith and Muslims themselves. A group is singled out soley based on their religious belief and their desire to practice their own religion. A group of American citizens no less. American citizens who are afforded the protection and rights of the laws of the United States, to include the United States Constitution.

I do not write to demonize the protests. Despite logic and facts based either in myth, fanciful ideas, misinformation, or simple ignorance; those protesting do have the right to protest. Despite how foolish, racist, and plain mean they present themselves to the world. Just as the Westboro Baptist Church has its place to spread its inflammatory rhetoric at military funerals (I have my own personal opinion on that, involving keelhauling the lot of them), just as these misguided people have their right to protest.

What terrifies me, having given six years of service is that those rights protected by the Constitution, specifically by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment could be simply pushed aside to calm the angry masses. Elimination of civil rights without any due process, nothing to recognize that these American citizens have constitutional rights. It should cause great discomfort to any person that one group singled out because of one racial or ethnic or religious trait to name a few can have their rights stripped away.

Where does Dr. King fit in all of this? Seeing the unmasked hatred pointed towards Muslims based on their religious beliefs would cause him great pain. It would be another example of how his "Dream" has not yet been met. It would also cause him to probably confront Glenn Beck and find out why Beck has only worked to stir the flames of nativist-jingoist hatred and not defeat those very mindsets.

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