Thursday, September 2, 2010

Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and America's Lost Honor

Glenn Beck has "honor" and "being honored" confused.
Has America lost its honor? That's the topic of my latest Scripps Howard column with Ben Boychuk -- inspired by Glenn Beck's "Restoring America's Honor" rally last weekend. My take:

Has America lost its honor? Absolutely. The campaigns against Muslim mosques in New York City and Murfreesboro, Tenn., represent a profound betrayal of this country's traditional values of religious tolerance.

We Americans should repent the ugliness directed at our Muslim fellow citizens.

What? Wait. You mean that's not the "lost honor" Glenn Beck was talking about? Of course not. Whatever you think of America's honor, one thing is certain: Double standards are alive and well in this country. When liberals point out how America falls short of its ideals, they're often accused of "hating America." When conservatives do the same thing, they're treated like prophetic voices calling citizens back to their roots.

Why is that? Possibly because when liberals call on the country to be true to its ideals, they're asking us to do hard things. Like letting Nazis or the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church march in public. Like providing a process where terrorism suspects can prove their innocence. Like ending torture. These aren't easy tasks, but they're required of a country that enshrines freedom and the rule of law as its founding ideals.

But when conservatives like Beck and Sarah Palin talk about "restoring America's honor," they seem to mean: "Let's feel good about America without worrying about how we sometimes fall short of our ideals."

Just listen to Beck at last weekend's rally: "This country has spent far too long worrying about scars and thinking about scars and concentrating on scars. Today, we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, the things that we have accomplished and the things that we can do tomorrow."

Real honor is duty tempered by humility. It is a devotion to responsibility in the face of opposition and easier ways out. Beck and Palin's version of "honor" isn't the real thing. It's comforting happy talk.

Ben's no Beck fan, I think, but he still differs from me. Read the whole thing for his take.

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