For years and years, the national moralists have been telling conservatives to reach out to minorities and women. But how? Minorities and women, at least of the professional variety, believe in big government and politics-with-everything. Conservatives don't.
In fact, conservatives believe, with Peter Berkowitz, that "[b]ig government tends to crowd out self-government" and that big government is more than a political problem; it is a moral problem. So how can conservatives reach out to people who flat-out disagree with them?
Enter Glenn Beck and his Restoring Honor rally, or, as the MSM would prefer, his "restoring honor" rally.
Yes, up pops ole Glenn at the Lincoln Memorial with 300,000 to 500,000 "mostly white" Americans on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The rally stage overflows with Glenn Beck, First Americans, Women, Glenn Beck, African-Americans, ministers, rabbis, tributes to Martin Luther King, Glenn Beck, and one old white guy in a blue blazer. Oh, and Sarah Palin.
So what happens? The MSM pouts and brackets the whole affair in a forest of scare quotes. Reverend Al Sharpton stages a counter-rally and says, "The folks who used to criticize us for marching are trying to have a march themselves."
After insisting for a generation that Martin Luther King is a national figure who needs a national holiday and a street in every city, our liberal friends now tell us that Martin Luther King is off-limits for conservatives.
That Glenn Beck guy is a genius.
How do you reach out to women and minorities? It's obvious now. You do it with a Christian revival and a message of faith, hope, and charity. All of a sudden, Glenn Beck has remade conservatism into the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God, and he's shown liberals and their darlings to America as mean-spirited scolds. He's invited all the hyphenated Americans to pick up their sticks and journey out of the liberal plantation and into the Promised Land.
The great question in America is always the worry about the latest generation of immigrants. Will they assimilate and become un-hyphenated Americans "like us"? Or will they insist on living defiantly in an ethnic ghetto and split us apart? Michael Barone looked at this a decade ago in The New Americans and decided that immigrants always do assimilate. A century ago, Americans were worried about the flood of Irish, Italians, and Jews. They were stupid, clannish, and un-American. Yet a century later, we've stopped worrying about them. Instead, we are worried about blacks, the new Irish; Hispanics, the new Italians; and Asians, the new Jews.
Should we be worried? Here's a Hispanic gas station attendant worrying out loud to Ben Stein about Obama and 9/11 mosques:
"We have to wake up," he said. "Those people want to hurt us. Then they want to build a mosque. Why? To hurt us more? And how come Obama always takes the side of the people who hate us? Isn't this his country, too? What's wrong with him? Doesn't he know he's an American? Or what is he? This country has to wake up and get rid of Obama."
I nodded. "I agree," I said.
The man shook his head. "This country has to wake up," he said again. "We elected Obama. We made a big mistake. Now we have to fix it. Stop him, then get someone else in there. Someone who is an American. Someone who works for us, not our enemies."
Yep. Ben's Hispanic gas station attendant sounds like a bitter clinger. Maybe it's time to stop worrying about Hispanics and start worrying about Muslims instead. Personally, I'm worried about South Asians. Are we going to let them turn Hollywood into Bollywood without firing a shot?
The way to understand all this is to accept that the American experience is deeply interwoven with the Christian proposition. Open your arms to the stranger, for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ; trust in the providential God. Extend the boundaries beyond the safety of your ethnic group; trust in American exceptionalism. But everyone has to make the leap of faith for him- or herself.
Glenn Beck is cobbling together a new national myth out of all this to make the leap of faith a little easier. He's scrambling together God, the founding fathers, Old Abe, the Great Awakening, the success ethic, the responsibility gospel, the civil rights movement, and faith hope, and charity. Meanwhile, he conducts weekly deconstructions on Democratic heroes like Woodrow Wilson and Andrew Jackson. If he manages to make it all come together, we could see the biggest change in national politics and culture since 1933.
There's a lot of cackling in the liberal hen house this week. There's a fox in there with a mouthful of feathers warbling, "there's nobody in here but us 400,000 chickens." The fox's name is Glenn.