Glenn Beck and fans to rally on ‘I Have a Dream’ anniversary

August 26, 2010

By Kathleen Hennessey, Tribune Washington Bureau

Glenn Beck says he didn’t intend to schedule a rally Saturday in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. But it’s a convergence of time and place that the conservative talk show host describes as “divine providence.”

Some have used other words.

Civil rights leaders aligned with Democrats are recoiling at the Fox News pundit’s plan to gather his faithful on the same steps where King delivered his call for racial justice. They’re planning their own march in honor of the speech and criticizing Beck, saying he’s trying to hijack King’s legacy.

The debate is just one in a handful surrounding the event, which, despite its billing as an apolitical show of support for military families, has not dodged the trappings of partisan politics. Like the man behind it, the event seems to raise ire while preaching unity.

In the months leading up to the “Restoring Honor” rally and related events, Beck has accused the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts of religious discrimination. He has suggested the federal government has tried to limit such protests on the mall, without citing evidence.

And he’s enlisted an undeniably political figure — former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin — as a headliner, while promoting the rally through a constellation of political groups often aligned with Republicans.

Still, Beck says, this has nothing to do with politics.

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