The Corner

Wallace and Beck: A Clarification

A number of people have e-mailed me a bit confused by my argument in “Chris Wallace Gets It Wrong.” They correctly point out that I focused on Chris Wallace and failed to explain where Glenn Beck went wrong on Fox News Sunday.

As I should have made clearer, both Beck and Wallace were mistaken in different ways. Beck failed to recognize the increasing complexity of the civil-rights movement. He seemed to believe all participants had the same consistent, unwavering goal: treating people equally without respect to race.

But as early as 1965, SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) had rejected the drive for integration and thrown whites out of the organization. It was SNCC that, in the summer of 1964, had led the courageous campaign for black voting rights in Mississippi, where three young volunteers — Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Cheney — were murdered. A year later, Goodman and Schwerner, both white, would not have been welcome in the organization.

As for King, in 1967 (a year before he was assassinated), he had begun to lead a Poor People’s Campaign, which focused on economic equality. That focus was consistent with his long-held private belief in some vague form of democratic socialism. Moreover, by then, “civil rights” groups included a great many Black Power advocates with a voice very different from King’s public stance in the early years. These advocates celebrated Malcolm X far more than Martin Luther King Jr.

In short, in the earlier years, King argued in the public arena for a color-blind society, and it is that commitment for which we honor him. The socialist elements in his private thinking are a separate story.

In different ways, then, both Beck and Wallace embraced too crude a version of civil-rights history in the 1950s and 1960s.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More