Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Glenn Beck and the Co-Opting of History

As a history major, it troubles me to see how distorted representations of the past are being used to give weight to otherwise tenuous movements. For countless years people have been misquoting and misrepresenting the beliefs and statements of notable historical figures, but it certainly seems to be reaching an outrageous level in today’s media. The most unbelievably ludicrous connection I have seen lately is Glenn Beck’s hijacking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

On his radio show, Glenn Beck claimed that his 8-28 rally (Held on August 28, 2010, the 47th anniversary of MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” Speech) would be an iconic event at which, “We will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement because we were the people who did it in the first place.” When I first heard this, I was stunned and speechless; then, I became angry. It is absolutely ridiculous for a self-professed entertainer who has proclaimed social justice to be a terrible and dangerous concept to try to compare himself and his followers to Martin Luther King Jr., who believed strongly in social justice. These two men are so radically different that it is almost comical to say that Beck is the heir to King’s legacy; and yet, there are still droves of people who buy into Beck’s twisted view of the Civil Rights Movement.

This co-opting of a major historical movement is representative of the environment in which we live today: People are so desperate to further their own agendas that they can only find legitimacy in citing well-established “good” historical events (“Good” in this case referring to history that is no longer controversial). Glenn Beck claims that the members of his constituency are the true heirs to the Civil Rights Movement, but one must notice that Beck is ignoring more militant forces in the Civil Rights Movement like Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party. This sort of picking-and-choosing mentality is evident all over the political realm, and it is just truly disheartening to see how readily people will believe someone who claims a part of history as verification for the authenticity of their actions. Maybe it’s just because the Internet has created a sort of information overload that makes it difficult to separate out the whole truth from selective evidence, but people seem to have a genuine problem with recognizing when a historical figure or movement has been distorted.

It is important that we learn to call out those who will usurp history for their own purposes, lest we end up in a society like that in George Orwell’s 1984 in which history is rewritten and unquestioned by the general population.

Or am I just crazy?

1 comment:

  1. Comparing himself to MLK and talking about "reclaiming" the civil rights movement...

    well *that* takes some stones. Making such a ludicrous and hilaristurbing statement... If it's the environment that's the cause, it's the environment of ignorance in this country :/ People know so little, are not trained or able to objectively consider motivations and facts, and believe almost anything they're told by a charming loudmouth.

    I don't if it's a cultural problem or the result of the education system, but trying to get people to see the truth is a joke these days.