Today, the forty-seventh anniversary of Dr. King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech, the Washington Mall (motto: "not a shopping center") is the site of two political rallies, one hosted by "conservative" media firebrand Glenn Beck and the other by "civil rights" activist Al Sharpton.
Much, of course, is being made of Mr. Beck's chutzpah for holding a conservative rally on the anniversary, even though a niece of Dr. King is very much a part of the proceedings. Little is being made of Rev. Sharpton's rally at all.
And, of course, the two see themselves as very different. Which they are. Except in the outstanding way in which they are precisely the same.
Both Beck and Sharpton are blowhards whose diminutive stature is highlighted by the celebrated setting they have chosen for their antics.
SWNID, of course, happens to have political views modestly congruent with what Beck rants in favor of. That doesn't raise him to the status of someone deserving SWNIDish respect, however. We scorn his opportunistic self-promotion. Mr. Beck, we remember William F. Buckley, and you, sir, are not he.
We hope that those who believe Sharpton somehow speaks for them will adopt a similar stance. His presence on the Mall is no less demeaning to the legacy of Dr. King than is Beck's, even though he implicitly claims succession from the great man.
No one can imagine a moment at either rally like Mahalia Jackson expectantly urging, "Tell them about the dream, Martin!" So why don't we just say so, about both?