The Restoring Honor rally was Glenn Beck’s idea.
It was his concept. Glenn Beck was ever present from beginning to the end of the 8.28 Restoring Honor rally.
Not only did Beck speak throughout but he had prerecorded the voiceovers so that as the rally segued from one presentation to the next his voice was like Morgan Freeman’s, where Freeman narrates as if God was looking down upon the earth and his creation.
A snippet from the Restoring Honor website as to the day’s theme:
“Throughout history America has seen many great leaders and noteworthy citizens change her course. It is through their personal virtues and by their example that we are able to live as a free people. On August 28, come celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage and our future.”
“Join the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and many more for this non-political event that pays tribute to America’s service personnel and other upstanding citizens who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.”
“Our freedom is possible only if we remain virtuous. Help us restore the values that founded this great nation.”
I will revisit these themes throughout my review and give my critique.
However, simply yes, the event embraced its theme and did not stray. Partisan critics have already written such things about this event as “Anger Floods the Mall Along with Glenn Beck” … this just did not happen.
If you read my review to the end you will find that 8.28 was a instead a day of anti-anger, anti-racism, and anti-status quo.
There was/is indeed an underlying strategy at work by Glenn Beck and behind 8.28.
Warning: if you take left-of-center knee jerk criticism of what happened as reality then woe unto believers of that alternate reality.
Glenn Beck reinvented himself on 8.28, and I believe that this event was intended to be a boomerang rally: If you wish to believe that Beck is merely and simply causing more trouble then you are wrong. Beck is crazy like a fox. And like a fox you had better stop whining about him being crazy and start counting your chickens. Beck is coming for them.
They came by the tens of thousands.
They came from California and Florida and Idaho and so many different places. The young. The old. One of the networks reported their estimate of 87,000 people coming out for the 8.28 Restoring Honor rally … yes, I can believe that. I came with two cameras and a video camera to document the event.
I walked the rally from end-to-end and across the depth.
I have lots of photos of people (many, many more than in my photo album of this event). So many came that there was no choice but to make friends. People filled the walkways, the hillsides, the fields adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial.
People were standing shoulder to shoulder throughout and between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial … and from there to the hillside of the Washington Monument were large crowds of Americans that also came for out for the rally.
“They” were white America. This was a 99.99% white participant event. It would be generous to say that 4 or 5 non-whites (including Latinos) per 1,000 were in attendance, although that number is probably safe within any margin of error on my part.
It would be very wrong however to say that this was an event for white America. Critics of this event that did not come out and experience this event in person will miss that something very unique and important happened on 8.28.
The core message: the real message delivered on 8.28 reached its intended audience: activist white America. The message was simple: Hate and anger and denial about the past will not win for us in the future. You need to go home and think about what makes America great: Hope. Faith. Charity. The core message was that unless these things are openly embraced then America cannot and will not be great again.
Throughout the day, the majority — yes, the MAJORITY — of speakers and presenters on the platform were NOT white Americans. My interpretation is that Beck (and by extension Palin) is trying to move beyond the combative contentiousness of the Tea Party. Such would be a delicate maneuver to be sure as Tea Partyers made 8.28 a huge success. Ultimately, however, the Restoring Honor rally was not a Tea Party event — either in style or in message.
My belief is that 8.28 was a test of the waters for a 2012 campaign theme. For left-of-center you need to study carefully what happened on 8.28 because it was the launch of a strategy: unite conservative and center-right America by purposely reaching out to people of color.
The Strategy – A Theory
It is a fair question to ask how a massive rally made up of 99.99% white participants could be a strategy to reach out to those that were not there.
Here are my key thoughts:
- An old school standard of teaching and reinforcing concepts was used: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. Glenn Beck and team managed to keep a major promise: this was not a politicized event. There were no harsh words and I do not believe that President Obama’s name, or even mention of any political issues, was ever brought up. Instead the crowd, many of whom wore t-shirts with the rally’s theme imprinted, were told that 8.28 was all about “Faith. Hope. Charity.” That theme was constantly reinforced by every speaker.
- Prepare the audience to think different. Whatever story you wish to believe about why the 8.28 ‘Restoring Honor’ rally was held on the anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech is probably true.– Beck says that he did not realize the significance of the day until he had scheduled the event. Maybe. Washington DC is miserably hot during August. Absolutely sweat drenching miserable. If there is going to be a cool day it will be at the end of the month. Beck may well have chosen the last weekend for the same reason that anyone else would. As it turns out, it was an incredibly nice, cool day.
– If Beck set out to hijack Martin Luther King’s legacy by holding his event on the same date then the calendar makers must also be in collusion. 8.28 rarely falls on a weekend. I am open to believe in coincidence. I am skeptical enough to believe in planning.
– For Beck’s critics and for those that love a great conspiracy theory, Beck indeed did not waste the significance of the date. The entire event from start to finish explicitly adopted and explored and embraced themes of 1963’s I have a dream. This included Beck et al telling the audience that just as we overcame the wrongs and injustices of our racist past … STOP! We have racism in our recent past? Beck is telling us that we have a hurtful and wrongful racist past? Didn’t he know that his audience was 99.99% white?
– The strategy of 8.28: Prepare the minds of potential missionaries and disciples for the direction that you want them to go! If there was indeed a strategy (my conspiracy theory) then Beck would need the audience’s cooperation. Potentially this could be a tough audience for what was yet to come.
- Show your audience that you mean what you say. Let me repeat that the majority of the presenters and speakers on the stage were not white Americans. Beck did what the GOP and the Tea Parties have not done: he involved the rest of America. Beck involved people that stood at Martin Luther King’s side back in 1963 and now in 2010 they were on the stage with Glenn Beck embracing “Faith. Hope. Charity.” Beck created a very carefully choreographed event that repeatedly and in many gentle but not subtle ways told the white American audience ‘Think different!’ and to those that did not attend but pay attention beyond the 24/7 network media spin: Beck told much of the rest of America you matter and we want you to join us.
August 28th was a beautiful day and tens of thousands of Americans joined each other. Whether you agree or disagree with their politics I will share this one last thought: the battle for 2012 arrived today, and it may be fought differently than many believe.