Today – August 28 – is the 47th anniversary of the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ in 1963. The occasion is better remembered as the one on which Dr Martin Luther King gave his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech, his plea for racial tolerance, equality and harmony. The event is often said to have prompted the Civil Rights Act 1964.
Today – in 2010 – the rightwing American Fox News pundit, Glenn Beck, is proposing to hold a rally, styled as the ‘Restoring Honor’ rally, at the same location as Martin Luther King’s event: the Lincoln Memorial. The event is described as ‘non-political’, though if you read Mr Beck’s note on his website it is hard to see what the issues are that he is addressing; but his own credentials, and the fact that Sarah Palin is addressing the event, may provide some clues.
There is total incompatibility between the values that were at the root of the march and speech in 1963 and those of today’s ultra-conservative rally. Which set of values persuades America now will have a considerable impact on everyone’s future, and not just in the United States.