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The Myth of the Founding Fathers

Led by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, Tea Party worshippers of the Founding Fathers want to return to the “good ol’ days” of 1787, when most African-Americans were slaves, many poor whites were indentured servants, and women couldn’t vote. At the time the Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, Native Americans were being slaughtered for their land, and Mexicans who were indigenous to the Southwest and the West coast of what became the United States were included in the genocide.

None of the ancestors of the African American, Native American, or Latino speakers addressing the mostly white Tea Partiers at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech would have been among the Founding Fathers. No women, Jews, Muslims, poor people or non-land owners were numbered amongst the Founders who were rich white men.

Conservatives have trouble seeking sensible solutions to our present-day problems of poverty, violence, and perpetual war that make rich folks richer while poor people suffer and weapons makers and war profiteers make big bucks while killing and injuring innumerable innocent people. The problems are caused by big moneyed interests with the help of simple minded sycophants like Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers. Their answer is to look backward to the wealthy Founding Fathers for guidance. The Tea Partiers believe the mythologized Founding Fathers are more intelligent and moral than anyone today except maybe radical right-wingers like Beck and Palin.

While hosting the Glenn Beck Program, a nationally syndicated talk-radio show and the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News Channel, Beck has been promoting conspiracy theories and delivering incoherent diatribes against socialists and environmentalists. Beck has called President Obama a Marxist, communist, and socialist who is taking America down the road to fascism. He has accused Obama of being a racist with a “hatred for whites”, and alleged that the Obama Presidency is like evil gorillas, endangering humankind and compared Obama’s America to “the Planet of the Apes”. He said that Al Gore wants to create a new “Hitler youth” because he promotes environmental awareness among young people. Beck doesn’t believe in global warming, but loves guns and militarism.

In Washington Beck did not mention Obama or Gore, but rather, assumed the role of an evangelist, presenting a religious theme of “Faith, Hope and Charity” which was a lame attempt to mask his worship of Mammon, the God of big business. Beck’s big show “just happened” to be at the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King II made his iconic speech 47 years ago to the day. Beck said he was totally unaware it was the anniversary of King’s address when he scheduled his event and he believes the Lord led him to schedule the event at that time and place. He also boasted that the right wing rally had “reclaimed the civil rights movement.” Beck said he heard the voice of God while addressing his flock, a symptom characteristic of schizophrenia. He and his far right friend and probable Republican Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin repeatedly mentioned King’s legacy, as giant screens carried King’s image and brief excerpts of his 1963 address. Earlier this year Beck denounced King as a “radical socialist” and questioned why a national holiday had been named in his honor. Beck was born in a Roman Catholic family, but converted to Mormonism. He says he “found the Lord” who saved him from his alcohol and drug addiction and his channeling the voice of God sounds like the faith required in a 12 steps effort to stay on the wagon.

In his rambling speech Beck gave several quotes from the Declaration of Independence, recited the Gettysburg Address, invoked trite clichés of Americana and read bible verses. Palin said she was the mother of a “combat vet” and led a chant of “USA, USA, USA.”

In the past other extremist populist movements in America also wrapped themselves in the cross and the flag, but espoused some social and economic policies that appealed to the common man. Father Charles Coughlin and Rev. Gerald L.K. Smith were demagogic leaders in the depression days of the 1930s, who at least talked about the dangers of capitalism, with Coughlin advocating a guaranteed annual wage and nationalization of some industries and Smith calling for income limits for the wealthy and old age pensions for everyone.

When he announced the rally, Beck promised to present a plan which would provide “specific policies and action steps” to found “a new national movement to restore our great country.” Instead, in his speech on Saturday, he said he decided to not reveal the plan, because of a conversation he had with God. Rather than explaining his plan “to restore our great country”, Beck said that people should turn to the Lord by praying on their knees and leaving their doors open so their children could see them doing so. Could it be that the billionaires and corporate entities who fund the tea party movement nixed the plan that might help poor and working class people at their expense?

Beck, Palin and their fellow Tea Partiers worship the rich white men and moneyed interests who fund their movement and their politics. Their gods are 21st century manifestations of the rich white men who were the Founding Fathers.

TOM TURNIPSEED is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC. His blog is http://tomandjudyonablog.blogspot.com

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