Beck, tea party and divisive politics

August 31, 2010

It is sad and somewhat alarming to watch Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and their tea party followers organizing and marching to "Take back America, restore our honor and return to God" ("Thousands attend Beck rally," Aug. 29).

While long on sound bites and flag waving, the group comes up a little short on specifics and real motives. Who are they taking America back from - the African-American community, Latinos, the disadvantaged, immigrants to America over the past 200 years? And what are they taking back - the America of Jim Crow when Blacks had no rights, when Jews faced hostile discrimination in housing and the workplace, when gays and lesbians could not fully participate in our society, when the handicapped had little access to public facilities, or when women had no vote and faced workplace discrimination and harassment? How about the America when there were no labor laws to protect the rights of workers and prevent child labor, the America when pollution was so bad that Lake Erie was ablaze, or America before Social Security which allows retired seniors to enjoy some semblance of financial independence?

Which God are we to return to - the Judeo-Christian God, the God of Islam or the God of Buddhists and Hindus?

With all of our problems, we have become a better and more inclusive America over the past 50 years. Glenn Beck and his followers shout down the idea of a Muslim center near Ground Zero as being insensitive, but see no insensitivity in calling our president a Muslim "with deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" or comparing President Barack Obama's America to "The Planet of the Apes." The tea party may deny a racist agenda, but their words and actions send a very different message.

We have real issues to solve in America - an economic crisis, failing schools, crime, rising poverty, and unaffordable health care. Glenn Beck and his tea party followers would do well to come up with real solutions to these issues and move away from their agenda to divide America along, racial, ethnic, class and religious lines.

Beryl Rosenstein, Baltimore

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