The contrast was the high-school parking lot several blocks away where the Rev. Al Sharpton was flogging the same old one-trick pony. It was a dying gasp, an attempt to beat a drum that has long been over-played and is now worn out. In a nation which has just elected an African American with a Kenyan father and a white mother, how can we still accept the strident shouts of racism?
No one can deny that there is prejudice in America. We've battled the institutionalized discrimination and we've largely overturned the organized segregation of Jim Crow. We've offered equal opportunity and stretched to affirmative action. We self-flagellated over past sins and at least nominally atoned.
Dr. King dreamed of a nation making judgments based on content of character not color of skin. That's why yesterday's contrast was remarkable.
Eleanor Holmes Norton Sees No Difference
"The 'March on Washington' changed America," Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said at the Sharpton rally, referring to King's speech. "Our country reached to overcome the low points of our racial history. Glenn Beck's march will change nothing."
She doesn't get it. Dr. King did cause a nation to rethink its handling of racial issues. Beck's rally wasn't seeking to change that, it is seeking to remember it and to continue that movement. Norton is the one who can't let color go, not Beck. Her rally was all about color, Beck's was all about being a proud American and preserving those things which made this nation great.
Yet, maybe Norton and Sharpton are still right. The Washington Post still found it essential to point out:
Sharpton drew a mostly black crowd of union members, church-goers, college students and civil rights activists. The Obama administration weighed in, too, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaking of education as the "civil rights issue of this generation."
The Beck crowd, meanwhile, was overwhelmingly white, and many in the crowd described themselves as conservatives with deep concern about the country's political leadership and its direction.
That is the language of racism. It is the continuation of noting the color of skin rather than the content of character. It fails to accept that America is overwhelmingly white...we are nationally only 18% black. A representative and proportional crowd would be a white majority by default. Buried in the language we get the perpetuation of stereotypes...the Sharpton crowd was "union members" so by default the Beck crowd was comprised of oppressive management and bourgeouisie. The Sharpton crowd as "church-goers" implying that the Beck crowd, despite being labeled conservatives was irreligious. The Sharpton crowd was "college students" leading to the conclusion that the Beck bunch was less educated. And Sharpton's supporters were "civil rights activists" which means that Beck's people are opposed to equality, liberty and freedom.