News+Opinion » Chris Haire

Glenn Beck throws a party on the wrong day

Day Dreams

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There are many reasons to admire Glenn Beck. The Fox News host can cry at will. He has a strikingly fanciful relationship with facts. He was a drunk. He is single-handedly keeping the American chalkboard industry in business. He overcame a near-fatal hemorrhoid operation. And he had the good-enough sense to realize that CNN was not the place for his increasingly apocalyptic tirades. As a result, he has been able to make the transition from a talk show host to a televangelist with considerable ease.

But his ability to pick a day to throw a party isn't one of his more admirable traits. In fact, he's so bad at this essential part of party planning that he, as well as all the men and women he invited to his Restoring Honor shindig, have been branded racists because of Beck's screw up. I mean, seriously, how did he not know that Aug. 28 was the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s now-famous "I Have a Dream" speech? And to make matters worse, Beck had to know that his pep rally was set to take place at the Lincoln Memorial, the very same spot where Dr. King delivered his speech 47 years ago.

I don't know about you, but where I come from, the 47th anniversary is like the caviar of anniversaries, better than the 10th or the 25th or the 50th or, heck, even the 75th. The forty-frikkin'-seventh is the bee's knees. The cat's meow. Beck's crocodile tears.

In fact, it ranks right up with the 72nd anniversary in terms of all-around weightiness. Speaking of 72nds, you can bet your bottom dollar that ventriloquists haven't forgotten that Aug. 28 marks the 72nd anniversary of the day that Northwestern University awarded an honorary doctorate to Charlie McCarthy, the world's most famous dummy.

And Aug. 28 is certainly a date that baseball fans will never, ever forget. Not only is it the 89th anniversary of the day that home run king Babe Ruth started a nine-game streak of getting extra-base hits, it's also the 84th anniversary of the day that Cleveland pitching ace Emil Levsen beat the Boston Red Sox twice in one day.

Over in the music world, big things happened on Aug. 28: both Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash" and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" went gold. It's the 37th anniversary for both the Halloween novelty hit and the classic rock mainstay.

And who could ever forget that Aug. 28 was the day that Sen. Strom Thurmond filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1957, a parliamentary protest that went on for 24 hours and included the Aiken politician reading aloud from the phone book. This year marks the 55th anniversary of that impressive, and embarrassing, moment in history.

Now, some might say that these events don't matter. That they're not worth acknowledging beyond a one-line blip in the newspaper or a factoid on a desktop calendar. And you know what? They're not. They're largely forgotten and rarely, if ever, acknowledged.

Which brings us back to the King speech and Beck. Yes, "I Have a Dream" is quite possibly the quintessential modern American speech. And, yes, Beck's religious and political rally — largely attended by lily-white Tea Partiers — took place on the same day and at the same spot. The talk show host says that the timing was unintentional. We should take him at his word. And if this is the case, Beck isn't the only one who failed to note the MLK anniversary. Prior to this little bit of manufactured outrage, I doubt very few of us thought there was anything significant about Aug. 28.

In the end, we have to ask ourselves this: What matters more, the day the speech was delivered or the speech itself? I would argue the latter. And there's nothing that Glenn Beck can do to rain on that, no matter how many crocodile tears he cries.

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