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August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck to hold controversial \’Restoring Honor\’ rally at Lincoln Memorial

Glenn Beck to hold controversial ‘Restoring Honor’ rally at Lincoln Memorial

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Critics condemn event for being held on anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck in February 2010
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Conservative American political commentator and Fox News radio and television host Glenn Beck plans a “Restoring Honor” rally for August 28 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Critics condemn choosing the 47th anniversary and same location of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech to hold the rally. Events related to King’s speech will still be held in Washington, DC.

Beck and the rally’s organizers say the “Restoring Honor” event is meant to recognize those “who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” Criticized for holding the event on the anniversary of King’s speech, Beck claims it was a scheduling coincidence and that he is trying to bring back the spirit of the civil rights movement. Civil rights activist and minister Al Sharpton said, “When you start saying you’re going to reclaim the civil rights movement that’s not even coded, that’s a blatant attempt to hijack a movement that changed America.”

Reverend Sharpton said in a press conference on Friday that Beck’s rally goes against the intent of Martin Luther King, Jr., who advocated unity in national government. He questioned whether Beck understood the message of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, saying Beck’s supporters “have the right to rally, … what they don’t have the right to do is distort what Dr. King’s dream was about.” Sharpton described Saturday’s event as “anti-government,” saying, “You can’t have a march telling government to leave us alone and say you’re reclaiming a march where they came to appeal to government to protect us. They’re having an anti-government march on a day that King came to appeal to government. You can’t have it both ways.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, giving his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial

Members of the U.S. Tea Party movement say Beck’s event will be bigger than last year’s Taxpayer March on Washington, held on September 12, 2009. The “9/12” march was the first major national Tea Party demonstration, but exact attendance numbers are unknown. Jamie Radtke, who founded the Federation of Virginia Tea Party Patriots, said that Saturday’s event may be twice as big as last year’s, based on the number of buses that have been chartered. Organizers of the event hope to see up to 100,000 people, while Sharpton says he expects a lower turnout for his annual event to honor King’s speech.

Although Beck says the “Restoring Honor” rally is not about politics, it raises questions how it may affect Republicans during November’s mid-term elections. The event, which will be held from 10 a.m. EDT (1400 UTC) to 1:00 p.m. EDT (1600 UTC), is to feature speakers such as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same place where King gave his famed speech 47 years ago to the day. Beck, who called the date and location a result of “divine providence,” said, “Whites don’t own Abraham Lincoln. Blacks don’t own Martin Luther King. Those are American icons, American ideas, and we should just talk about character, and that’s really what this event is about. It’s about honoring character.”

Video and sound equipment will be set up along the Lincoln Memorial’s reflecting pool and will stretch all the way to the Washington Monument for the rally. Beck, who has been promoting the event via radio and television, says that “Restoring Honor” is not meant to give a boost to candidates in this November’s elections. No signs will be allowed at the rally, and no elected official presently in office will speak. In addition, a spokesperson for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele claimed that he had no prior knowledge of Beck’s rally when asked about it.

Sharpton is participating in a separate rally at an area high school to celebrate the anniversary of King’s speech. He said his event will “stay way away from” Beck’s event, and that “people will judge for themselves whether [“Restoring Honor”] has anything to do with civil rights.” It starts at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC) at Dunbar High School and includes a march to the site of a planned King memorial, which is located on the other side of the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial. Sharpton has been promoting the event on his radio show, and a spokesperson said that the event had been planned in April, not as a counter-rally to “Restoring Honor.”

In the past, Beck has accused US President Barack Obama of reverse racism, and Republicans may be afraid to speak up, due to the possibility of party-damaging clashes over race during the event. Democrats, however, are still labeling the event as Republican-endorsed. “Republicans for well over the past year have firmly embraced the tea party and some of these right-wing fringe groups that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have rallied around, and these are becoming serious campaign liabilities in the general election,” a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in interview with The Washington Post. “The fact that they’re trying to plead ignorance is just completely absurd.”

Conservatives, on the other hand, are saying that “Restoring Honor” is a symbol of their unity. Although it is still unclear what effect the rally will have on November elections, some voters could be drawn to support Republicans as a result, despite the controversy over the event’s date.

Alveda King, a niece of King’s, will appear at Beck’s rally. She said, “The theme of the 8/28 rally is not political. We’re putting honor over politics. I will not be talking about any political position or any political party. I’ll simply be calling all Americans to pray, to have faith, to honor God and all humanity. I am very interested in agreeing that this is not a political event and so those expecting to be offended will not receive that kind of approach from me.”

The weekend will be a beehive of activity for activists. In addition to Beck’s and Sharpton’s rallies, conservative group FreedomWorks held a convention in Washington, DC on Friday, and Democrats plan to knock on over 200,000 doors throughout the US on Saturday and Sunday.

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September 23, 2008

Mass delivery of anti-Islamic DVDs in swing voting states

Mass delivery of anti-Islamic DVDs in swing voting states

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

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Voters in swing states across the United States began receiving a one-hour DVD of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West over the weekend. The video was produced and distributed by Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization connected with Zionist and pro-Israeli organizations. The DVDs were delivered with leading newspapers mostly in swing states such as Ohio, Florida, and Michigan.

Obsession:Radical Islam’s War Against the West has stirred both outrage and praise.

The film focuses on drawing parallels between “Islamo-fascists” and Nazis, and opens with a series of videos of terrorist acts. It features interviews with counter-terrorism analysts, footage from Arabic TV, and interviews with former terrorists.

The film’s website states that the filmmakers “are against the Radical Islamists [sic] who want to impose their violent, oppressive world view, with little value for life and the manifold pleasures within”, but that they feel they share the same values and fears as most Muslims. The goal of the film, they say, is to raise public awareness, link isolated terrorist events to global origins, correct media misinformation, recognize efforts for Muslim tolerance, and promote efforts to fight “the Radical Islamic threat”.

Obsession has drawn both criticism and praise in the U.S. “Obsession is without exaggeration one of the most important films of our time,” wrote CNN’s Glenn Beck. The film received awards at numerous film festivals like the Liberty Film Festival.

But outraged Muslims have objected to the film and its distribution. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has received a large amount of calls over the matter, Muslims feel it is “an attempt to not only marginalize and demonize the American Muslim community, but also to sway the election by targeting swing states”.

The film has been criticized for misquoting sources, poor fact checking, and including biased witnesses and testimony. Several of the analysts featured in the film have been criticized as being racist and anti-Islamic. Daniel Pipes, one of the talking heads in the film, was reported as saying that Muslims in America present “true dangers to American Jews”. Nonie Darwish, also featured in the film, has been widely criticized for his belief that “Islam is the devil” and thinks “Islam is cruel, anti-women, anti-religious freedom and anti-personal freedom in general.”

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Clarion Fund, which also sells a DVD titled The Third Jihad, states copies are being distributed to 28 million homes but there is no intent to sway voters. The organization’s focus, however, is only on radical Islamic threats to national security, and the group also runs a website RadicalIslam.org which recently endorsed John McCain.

An investigation by Inter Press Service in 2007 revealed that Obsession’s production was… closely tied to right-wing Zionists both in America and Israel. Rabbi Ephram Shore, brother of Clarion Fund’s founder Raphael Shore, is the head of an Israeli group which was involved in the film. Various weblinks on the group’s website focus on anti-Semitism and Israel.

The funds for the production of the movie were reported as having been borrowed, but there is no word on where the funds for the distribution came from. A spokesman for CAIR, Ibrahim Hooper, commented that he “can’t imagine that you can produce, package, distribute and advertise this product for less than 50 million dollars”.

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January 19, 2006

CNN hires three conservative commentators

CNN hires three conservative commentators

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

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American cable news network CNN has began to implement more personalities into its lineup, with the hirings of three prominent conservative commentators as contributors.

On January 5, the weblog TVNewser reported that Bill Bennett had been hired by the network as a political analyst. Bennett, a Republican activist, was appointed by Ronald Reagan as the Secretary of Education, and currently hosts a talk radio show, Morning in America. Bennet came under fire in late 2005 for controversial statements made following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, in which he said on his radio program: “if you wanted to reduce crime, you could—if that were your sole purpose—you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down.”

On January 17, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that CNN Headline News was hiring radio host Glenn Beck to host a new primetime show, and just a day later, CNN announced that former Republican congressman J.C. Watts was joining the network as a political analyst. Beck is quoted by the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting as saying that “Every night I get down on my knees and pray that Dennis Kucinich will burst into flames.”

In an article in Variety, CNN executive vice president Ken Jautz touted Beck, saying “Glenn’s style is self-deprecating, cordial; he says he’d like to be able to disagree with guests and part as friends. It’s conversational, not confrontational.” In response, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann named Jautz the “Worst Person in the World” on his show, saying “That’s cordial? Compared to who? Bill O’Reilly? Nancy Grace? Michael Savage?”

Liberal media watch group Media Matters sent out two emails to members, saying, “These three actions [hirings] raise serious questions about whether CNN has made a high-level decision to support and promote right-wing individuals, even those who have a history of promoting conservative misinformation and offensive rhetoric,” commented Media Matters’ David Grossman.

The media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting also criticized the move in an action alert, saying “The strategy of out-Foxing Fox by signing up incendiary right-wing talk show hosts is a dangerous one, as MSNBC found when it gave a show to hate-radio star Michael Savage and had to let him go when it turned out that his TV persona spouted the same vitriol featured on his radio show,” referring to an incident during a live broadcast that led to Savage’s dismissal.

CNN has been in a fierce ratings competition with the FOX News Channel, which has steadily begun gaining market share against the network, featuring several of the most-watched primetime shows.

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