Beck's accusation that progressives have “co-opted” civil rights movement rings hollow

On his Fox News show, Glenn Beck claimed that the civil rights movement “has been co-opted by progressives.” However, Beck routinely uses both the civil rights movement and its rhetoric for his own political agenda, such as his claim that his August 28 rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial will “reclaim the civil rights movement.”

Beck claims progressives have “co-opted” the civil rights movement

On the June 3 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck said:

BECK: I told you that this summer we're gonna concentrate on restoring history. The history of our nation, the founding, the early 20th century, the Depression era, and the civil rights movement, which has been co-opted by progressives.

Beck himself co-opts civil rights movement for his own purposes

Beck compared health care reform protesters to civil rights marchers. During the October 14, 2009, edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck showed pictures of fire hoses turned on civil rights protesters while advocating opposition to health care reform.

Discussing “build[ing] the ark,” Beck references lunch counter and bus seating. On the November 18, 2009, edition of his radio show, Beck said: “We will preserve the republic. We are going to be peaceful, but we are not getting up from the counter. We are not going to sit in the back of the bus. We are gonna link arms and we are gonna stand together for the truth.”

Beck: “I wouldn't be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us.” During the April 9 edition of his radio program, Beck said:

BECK: The majority of people are not looking for fundamental transformation of America. But there're going to be boxes created. There are going to be the boxes created of the violent, just like there were the Williams Ayers; of the crazies, just like there were the dope-smoking hippies; and then the real reformers, the people like Martin Luther King. We must put ourselves on that path, and be unmovable. I have to tell you, I wouldn't be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I wouldn't be surprised if, you know, some of us go to jail, just like Martin Luther King did, on trumped-up charges.

Beck says a civil rights movement commitment card by MLK is “the next phase of the 9/12 Project.” During the April 21 edition of his radio show, Beck read the “commitment card” that “Martin Luther King had every marcher sign,” and said it “looks to me like the next phase of the 9/12 Project.”

Beck claimed “civil rights marchers” weren't “crying for social justice” During the May 20 edition of his Fox News show, Beck continued his long attack on social justice by saying that “civil rights marchers” weren't “crying for social justice.”

Beck claimed his followers “are the inheritors and protectors of the civil rights movement.” During the May 24 edition of his radio program, after playing audio of Al Sharpton talking about “the dream,” Beck said:

BECK: That is not the dream, that is a perversion of the dream. We are the people of the civil rights movement. We are the ones that must stand for civil and equal rights. Equal rights -- justice. Equal justice. Not special justice, not social justice, but equal justice. We are the inheritors and protectors of the civil rights movement. They are perverting it. They're perverting it, and they're doing it intentionally.

Beck claimed his August 28 rally will “reclaim the civil rights movement.” During the May 26 edition of his radio show, Beck said of his August 28 rally:

BECK: This is a moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and so turned upside down. It is -- it's an abomination what has happened.

Do you have the Bertha Lewis audio? Bertha Lewis was arrested yesterday -- Bertha Lewis, ACORN, New York -- she was arrested at an anti-Arizona rally and they were locked in arms, singing “We Shall Overcome.” How dare you?


I tell you right now. We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties, and damnit, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place.

Beck has repeatedly invoked and compared himself to civil rights leaders

Beck compared himself to Martin Luther King, Jr. During the November 25, 2009, edition of his radio program, Beck said:

BECK: Now, you know, they say that I'm anti-government. No, I'm not. I'm anti-corrupt government. I'm anti out-of-control government. I'm anti -- would you call me anti-government because of what I said about the government of Iran? You know what? You're damn right I'm anti-government if it's the government of Iran. You're damn right I am.

I'm anti-government like that. I'm anti-government in -- with Saddam Hussein. You darn right I am. And while, we can't compare our government to those governments, I am anti-government if the government starts to take the rights of the people away, and that is what has been happening in this country for quite some time, under George W. Bush and now under Barack Obama. I -- excuse me?

It is only people that stand up against the government and do what our Founding Fathers told us to do, to be vigilant on our rights. Those are the people -- these are the times when you stand up -- when you can stand up peacefully, because if you don't stand up as you are losing those rights, as the government is growing in power, then, unfortunately, it becomes too late to stand up peacefully. How many times do I have to say “peaceful”?

Martin Luther King did -- was Martin Luther King -- was he anti-government? Well, he sure took the government and turned it upside down, now didn't he? He totally transformed the parties in this system -- in this government. If you remember right, it was Robert Byrd that was filibustering against the civil rights movement. Yeah, nobody really remembers that. If the government is going against the rights of the people, if the government in this country is violating the Constitution or reinterpreting the Constitution, it is not our right, it is our responsibility to speak out against it.

Beck compared himself to Rosa Parks, Gandhi. During the April 5 edition of his radio program, Beck said:

BECK: Let me tell you something. You are the key. Not me or people like me. But you and people like you. Millions of people like you. They're not afraid of me, they're afraid of you. Just like Gandhi. Just like Rosa Parks. It wasn't Rosa Parks, it was the millions of people that were inspired by Rosa Parks' non-movement. Rosa Parks wasn't a danger. The people who watched her and said, “Yeah, I'm with her. I'm not moving either.” It's the people who sat at a counter -- a soda fountain counter. You think people were afraid of them? No. They were afraid of the people that those people inspired. Martin Luther King was just one man.

You see, what they're doing is they're saying, “Get up from the counter. You don't have a seat at this counter.” Yes, you do. They're telling you, “Get to the back of the bus. You sit up here. You sit back there.” No, I don't.

Beck's rally to take place on anniversary of King's “I Have a Dream” speech. On November 23, 2009, Beck announced on his website that he had planned a rally at “the feet of Abraham Lincoln” for August 28, 2010.

Beck has an extensive history of race baiting

Beck claimed Obama is a “racist.” Discussing Obama's response to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Beck asserted that Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” After being reminded that Obama has numerous white staffers, Beck contradicted himself, saying, “I'm not saying that he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem,” before going on to state, “This guy is, I believe, a racist.” [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 7/28/09]

Beck: Obama satisfying his “desire for racial justice” though “intimidation, vilification, bullying.” On July 27, 2009, Beck said: “We have demonstrated President Obama's desire for racial justice, but how is he setting out to achieve it? Exactly the way a community organizer would: through intimidation, vilification, bullying, a system, an underground shell game.” Beck continued: “Look how he has handled different things. Gates -- he calls the cops stupid and racist before he admits, he says, 'I don't know all of the facts.' But he jumps to the conclusion that the cops are racist.”

Beck wondered why blacks identify as black since he doesn't identify as white. During a panel discussion on his Fox News show on November 13, 2009, Beck asked the studio audience: “How many people here identify themselves as African-Americans? Why?” He added: “Why not identify yourself as Americans?” After a panelist said, “But people can look at you and tell you're black, you can't escape that,” Beck said, “Yeah, but I don't identify myself as white or a white American.”

Beck frequently declares that things are “slavery” or will lead to slavery. Beck has claimed that debt is “a path to slavery”; stated that recipients of federal aid have been “taught to be slaves”; said that “illegal immigration is modern-day slavery”; asserted that progressive policies cause “slavery to government, welfare, affirmative action, regulation, control”; repeatedly said that that the stimulus bill “is slavery”; ranted that Obama is “addicting this country to heroin -- the heroin that is government slavery” and that “the government's irresponsible spending is turning us into slaves”; claimed that an Obama-proposed change to itemized tax deductions “involves enslaving people”; and alleged that a “modern-day slave state” is being constructed from ACORN, SEIU, and federal student loan, census, and service initiatives.

Beck has repeatedly compared Obama's agenda to “reparations.” Beck has said that Obama's agenda is driven by “reparations” and desire to “settle old racial scores through new social justice.” He later said: “This is all affirmative action.” Beck spoke at length about reparations during the July 23 editions of both his Fox News and his radio shows.