Last Friday in front of a live audience, and armed with his four blackboards, Glenn Beck put on a show about "revolution." He illustrated it with a timeline, going from Moses, to Jesus, to Mahatma Gandhi, to Martin Luther King Jr., "revolutionaries," he said, who were able to change the world one movement at a time. When he got to Gandhi, we learned that Gandhi's nonviolent movement was, at its core, an anti-colonial one, that Gandhi "free[d] India" by leading an Indian independence movement against British colonial rule.
And yet, Beck, who has lauded Gandhi and King, and expressed admiration for their respective movements, attacked President Obama for his supposed "anti-colonialism" worldview only days before his paean to Gandhi. On September 15, Beck hosted conservative writer Dinesh D'Souza, who recently wrote a Forbes cover story on "How Obama Thinks," based on his forthcoming book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage." D'Souza advanced the "theory" that Obama's policies should be understood as a manifestation of his Kenyan father's "hatred of the colonial system" -- with which Beck wholeheartedly agreed. Beck referred to the theory as "fact," re-revising his "Obama is a racist" comment to claim that D'Souza was right and that "it's not racism. It's anti-colonialism. It is -- it's liberation theology, which is also in a way anti-colonialism."
So, while Obama's fabricated "anti-colonialism" gets rolled into Beck's regular wave of anti-Obama attacks, Gandhi's actual anti-colonialism results in numerous positive mentions on Beck's Fox News and radio programs. Beck even once said that "we will follow Gandhi" in fighting against the administration's policies.
King, another historical figure Beck routinely tells his audience to emulate, also championed the cause of anti-colonialism. In the introduction to Volume IV of the University of California Press series, The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, editor Clayborne Carson relates a conversation King and Michael Scott had while in Ghana, just as that country was celebrating its newfound independence. Carson writes:
Before leaving Ghana, King fell ill and was forced to remain in bed for several days of recuperation. Despite his poor health, he welcomed a visit from English clergyman and anticolonial activist Michael Scott, during which the two men compared the freedom struggles in Africa and the United States. King reportedly expressed admiration for the bus boycott then taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, and remarked that there was "no basic difference between colonialism and racial segregation ... at bottom both segregation in American and colonialism in Africa were based on the same thing -- white supremacy and contempt for life."
Is it such a surprise that Beck hasn't mentioned any of this on his shows? Not really. For months, Beck absurdly told anyone who'd listen that his supporters would "reclaim the civil rights movement" and "pick up Martin Luther King's dream" at his 8-28 rally. For months, he insisted that King's sole dream was equal rights that sought to promote neither social justice nor economic rights. Confronted with the reality -- and not an invention -- that King had an economic agenda that included the redistribution of wealth, Beck replied, "That's a part of it that I don't agree with," later adding: "I'm not Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King would have to stand for Martin Luther King."
Would Beck also disagree with King, who, while Ghana was preparing to cross into self-governance, celebrated the "old order of colonialism ... passing away, and the new order of freedom and equality ... coming into being"? In January 1957, two months before that country's independence, King addressed thousands at an NAACP rally commemorating the 94th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. He said:
KING: Now we're all familiar with this old world that is passing away. We have lived with it and we have seen it in all of its tragic dimensions. We have seen it in its international aspects, in the form of colonialism and imperialism. Did you know there are approximately two billion four hundred million people in this world? And did you know that the vast majority of these people were colored? ... Most of them live on two continents, Asia and Africa. About a billion six hundred million of the peoples of the world are colored people. ... Now fifty years ago or even twenty-five years ago, most of these one billion six hundred million colored peoples of the world were exploited by some foreign power. Wherever you looked you could find it. We could turn our eyes to China and see six hundred million men and women there. We could turn to India and Pakistan and see four hundred million there. We could turn to Africa and see two hundred million black men and women there. We could turn to Indonesia and see a hundred million there or to Japan and see another eighty-six million. And all of these people for years lived under the domination of either the French, the Dutch, the Belgian, or the British. They were dominated politically, exploited economically, segregated, and humiliated.
KING: But there comes a time when people get tired. There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. ... There comes a time that people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of exploitation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life's July and left standing in the piercing chill of an Alpine November. So these people became tired, and as a result of their tiredness ... they decided to rise up and protest. ... And as a result of their protesting, about one billion three hundred million of the one billion six hundred million colored peoples of the world are free today. They have broken aloose from these colonial powers. ...They have their own governments, their own economic systems. They have broken aloose from the Egypt of colonialism. They're moving through the wilderness of adjustment toward the promised land of cultural integration. As they look back ... and as they look back they see the forces of colonialism and imperialism dying. The old order of colonialism is passing away, and the new order of freedom and equality is coming into being.
In August, we explained how "Martin Luther King would have been on Glenn Beck's chalkboard" and imagined the chart Beck could have done, linking King to the various present-day progressives and progressive organizations Beck regularly attacks. At the time, the chart didn't link King to Obama directly -- several degrees separated the two. But the chart can now be updated: Beck has attacked Obama for his supposed "anti-colonialism" worldview; King railed against colonialism.
A year before he was assassinated, for example, King blasted the United States for its involvement in Vietnam, calling the war "a new form of colonialism covered up by certain niceties of complexity." In that February 1967 speech, "The Casualties of the War in Vietnam," King stated:
KING: It is very obvious that our government blatantly violated its obligation under the charter of the United Nations to submit to the Security Council its charge of aggression against North Vietnam. Instead we unilaterally launched an all out war on Asian soil. In the process we have undermined the purpose of the United Nations and caused its effectiveness to atrophy. We have also placed our nation in the position of being morally and politically isolated. Even the long standing allies of our nation have adamantly refused to join our government in this ugly war. As Americans and lovers of Democracy we should carefully ponder the consequences of our nation's declining moral status in the world.
The second casualty of the war in Vietnam is the principle of self-determination. By entering a war that is little more than a domestic civil war, America has ended up supporting a new form of colonialism covered up by certain niceties of complexity. Whether we realize it or not our participation in the war in Vietnam is an ominous expression of our lack of sympathy for the oppressed, our paranoid anti-Communism, our failure to feel the ache and anguish of the Have Nots. It reveals our willingness to continue participating in neo-colonialist adventures.
A brief look at the back ground and history of this war reveals with brutal clarity the ugliness of our policy.
Confronted with the reality of an anti-colonial King, Beck would likely protest that this is just another part of King's legacy he doesn't agree with.