Glenn Beck is holding a rally in Washington because he says he and his Tea Party followers want to “reclaim the civil rights movement.” Sorry, Beck, you don’t have the credentials and neither do most of your Tea Party members. Let’s talk about what you have to experience to deserve to even the right to talk about civil rights.
Let’s imagine that you served your country with honor in a terrible war and returned with a chest full of medals and other decorations for valor in the defense of liberty. When you get home, you find there are a few things you can legally do but many more that you can not legally do. You can ride the train or bus home but only if you sit in less desirable seats designated for members of your race. At the bus or train station you can legally get a drink of water or use the bathroom only if a water fountain or bathroom has been designated for use by someone of your race. If you want something to eat, you can purchase a meal but only if you go around to the back of the restaurant or sandwich stand and have your meal handed to you through a window. Only people of the preferred race, which you aren’t part of, can go in the front door and sit at a table. When you get home, you can apply for a job but not a good one even if you are the best qualified because you don’t belong to the proper race. Good jobs are reserved for members of the preferred race only. You can walk the streets of your home town but the only paved streets are in the areas of town where members of the preferred race live. You can rent or, if you are lucky, purchase a home but only in a designated area of town and that area will most likely not have a water or sewer system like of those in the preferred race neighborhoods. You can take your wife or girl friend to a movie but you will be legally required to sit in the balcony and when an actor of your race appears in the movie you will cringe because the role he/she plays will demean your race. Your children and younger brothers and sisters can attend schools but the schools they can legally attend are housed in dilapidated buildings since the legislation in your state spends only a quarter as much or less on schools the children of your race must attend as it does on schools for children of the preferred race. The teachers that teach your children will be paid 30 percent less than their counterparts in the preferred race’s schools and, unlike their children, your kids will have no school bus to take them to and from school. You can attend college on the G.I. Bill but only if you can find an opening in the overcrowded colleges for members of your race since you can not legally attend a preferred race college or university regardless of how smart you are.
You are confronted daily by racists institutions and racial stereotypes. Survival requires that you mask your true feelings, act a part scripted by members of the dominate race, and not responding to insults from members of that race. Members of the dominate race expect that you will avoid looking them in their eyes. If you are young and male, you dare not look directly at a woman of the other race and certainly not ever touch her even by accident. You are expected to stare at the ground when speaking to a member of the preferred race. Even as a adult, you are called “boy,” or “girl,” or “auntie,” or “uncle” or worse. You are never addressed by your last name or as “Mister” or “Mrs.” or “Miss.” If you go to a store to purchase something, you must wait until all customers of the preferred race are served before you can transact your business You are required to never speak first or ask for assistance. You are expected to wait quietly for as long as it takes for the clerk to get around to asking you what you want. Your race is protrayed as lazy, silly, incompetent, ignorant fools in all of the circuses, shows, and films that came to town and all the radio programs on the air. As a parent, you try to protect your children from these degrading images but rarely succeed for long.
Your entire life you are expected to put on a mask of servitude whenever you are around members of the dominate race. Behind that mask, you seeth in anger but there is little you could do to address the wrongs and humiliation you are subject to day after day. You have to legal way to address these wrongs. The courts will not allow you to file suit. If you complain about the way you are treated, you will be beaten by the authorities or worse things will happen to you like what happened to a fellow soldier you knew by the name of Isaac Woodard. Honorably discharged and still in uniform, Woodard boarded a bus in Atlanta for the trip back to his home in South Carolina. At a bus stop, Woodard sought to use the bathroom. The bus driver refused. Woodward argued with the driver instead of lowering his head and remaining silent as the law and custom said he should. At the next stop, the driver called a policeman, Lynwood Shull, to complain about Woodward’s behavior. Shull dragged Woodard off the bus, beat him and hauled him off to jail. There Shull proceeded to beat Woodard some more and then used his nightstick to ground out Woodard’s eyes. Shull pleaded self-defense and a local jury acquitted him after less than a half hour deliberation. Shull went free. Woodard was blinded for life. You know that Woodard is not the only member of your race that has been treated this way. Thousands have.
No, Beck. Until you and your Tea Party followers experience what I’ve just described, you have no right to “reclaim the civil rights movement.” In fact, you have no right to even discuss civil rights. You’re not a joke, Beck. You are an ignorant, dangerous and truly evil demagogue. You are an insult to America.