Stark Contrasts Last Saturday

When the mainstream media dedicated themselves to providing equal coverage to the massive Restoring Honor rally orchestrated by radio and TV personality Glenn Beck and the much more, shall we say...intimate Reclaim the Dream rally orchestrated by radio host Al Sharpton, they undoubtedly thought they were doing their liberal brethren a huge favor.  As it turns out, they accomplished the exact opposite.

The images and sounds that emerged from the two competing events did more to damage the credibility and cause of left-wing activists from Sharpton to Obama than anything Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, or any other conservative spokesmen could have done in twenty years. Why? Because for any American citizen willing to pay attention (and many of them did), it was a real-time depiction -- no filter, no interpretation, no cosmetics -- of the stark contrasts between two totally different views on this country, its heritage, and its destiny.

Sure, there were the anecdotal comparisons like noting how the media incessantly referred to Beck as a "controversial conservative" while the uber-controversial and race-baiting Al Sharpton received the undeserved title of "civil rights leader."

There was the humorous exercise of comparing the cleanliness of the National Mall after Beck's rally (supposedly full of environment-hating corporate polluters) to the trashed Mall after Obama's inauguration (attended by the environmentally conscious left). 

Or the irony of liberal columnists like Alexander Zaitchik writing at the New Republic about how the Beck rally was all about Beck, when it was Al Sharpton who chose to grandstand, speaking beneath a large vinyl banner with his name tattooed across the front. 

And then there was the classic moment when ABC reporter Tahman Bradley commented on how the "almost all white" crowd at Beck's rally gave "critics an open door." Besides the obvious self-indictment such a statement brings of Mr. Bradley's obsession with the color of people's skin, notice that there was no similar acknowledgment of Sharpton's "almost all black" crowd and what that might indicate.

But the meaningful contrasts -- the ones that spoke volumes to a watching nation -- were far more profound. While the Beck rally featured speakers honoring God and country, the left's rally was laced with anger, bitterness, and profanity. 

Jaime Contreras, a local SEIU president, took Sharpton's stage to proclaim, "We are here to let those folks on the Mall know that they don't represent the dream. They sure as [expletive] don't represent me. They represent hate-mongering and angry white people." Meanwhile, at the Beck rally, the participants were singing "Amazing Grace."

Then came the image of a Sharpton enthusiast marching down Constitution Avenue cautioning, "We need to be shouting 'we are America.'" This call for unity came just moments before she directed attention towards the Beck supporters and bellowed, "See all those Tea-Baggers?!" A unifying message indeed.

And there was Sharpton himself, who, after admonishing his faithful to not be deterred by the hateful conservative hecklers they were sure to encounter, watched his own followers become the hateful hecklers. As the Washington Post reported, "One group of black women chanted, 'Yes we did and get over it,' [while] those part of the Glenn Beck rally clapped and passed out Restore the Honor bottles of water." 

Moreover, to thinking Americans, the label of hate-filled white racism doesn't fit a crowd eagerly applauding Dr. Alveda King (MLK's niece) as she calls for restoring the "foundation of the family."

Indeed, the greatest irony of all came in the title of Sharpton's liberal lollapalooza: "Reclaiming the Dream." As Jerome Hudson, a black man who participated in the Beck event explained, "Al Sharpton is a pretender. He is going to tell you to pretend that the color of your skin matters. He is going to ask you to ignore the overwhelming proof that fifty years after the Civil Rights movement, blacks are now destroying each other faster than the KKK could have ever dreamed."

That truth didn't faze Marc Morial, however, as the president of the National Urban League thundered to his fellow left-wingers, "We will not stand silent as some seek to bamboozle Dr. King's dream. We reclaim the dream of Dr. King for the 21st century." 

But anyone who has ever read Dr. King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" knows he was a man inspired by a faith and a purpose higher than himself -- a belief that America's wrongs and injustices would be corrected not by the arbitrary actions of the state, but through an obedience and submission of the people to their Creator. 

On August 28, 2010, there was only one rally in Washington, D.C. preaching that message...and as Americans witnessed, it clearly wasn't the left's. 

Peter Heck is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. E-mail or visit