King vs. Beck

Just as Christian fundamentalists quote only very selectively from the Bible what is most useful for their rather peculiar contemporary interpretations of their religion, so does Glenn Beck only focus on narrow slivers of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideas despite insisting that he and those in his movement are the true heirs of, and resumption of, the civil rights movement.  In reply to Beck insisting on Dr. King’s mantle of civil rights leader for himself, vorjack extremely helpfully highlights the kinds of texts from Dr. King that made Beck’s true right wing, red-scare predecessors disparage him in his own day:

Beck: “They’re collapsing the system and replace it with a system of guaranteed annual income for all the workers! Workers of the world unite!” [...]

King: “We must develop a program that will drive the nation to a guaranteed national income.” [...]

Beck: “The thing that I do find about Barack Obama is that — and I think America is starting to catch on to this — this guy really is a Marxist. He believes in the redistribution of wealth. He believes in the global government and everything else.” [...]

King: “[W]e are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars — and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.” [...]

Notice how much King sounds like Beck’s worst nightmare? Yet this is the man whose mantle Beck is trying to wear? Consider this quote from a speech he gave to his staff in 1966 and tell me how Beck and his crew would react:

“We are now making demands that will cost the nation something. We can’t talk about solving the economic problems of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with the captains of industry … Now this means that we are treading in difficult waters, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong … with capitalism … There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism. ”
(“Frogmore Speech”, quoted in I May Not Get There With You, pp. 87-88)

Below is Beck’s historically revisionist argument that he is Dr. King’s proper political heir, with commentary by Jon Stewart.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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