Before I start, let me just say that I do not have a problem with Mormons. Some of my best friends are Mormons!
That's right, even my favorite dolls up until the age of 9 or 10 were my Donny and Marie action figures. Furthermore, it’s not the fault of the Osmond family or Mormons as a group that I frequently made Donny and Marie engage in simulated doll incest in my big, very seventies Barbie Bubble Bathtub. For that, I blame my precocious, 10-year-old neighbor, Cara Applebaum.
Anyhow, my post today has about as much to do with Mormons and Mormonism as Glenn Beck’s recent “Restoring Honor” weekend had to do with Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Civil Rights Movement. Indeed, this piece has as little to do with Latter Day Saints as seeing Russia from one’s window has to do with foreign policy.
Nonetheless, the key players in this past weekend's "Restoring Honor" event at the Lincoln Memorial--most notably Beck and his Tea Part-ner in crime, Sarah Palin--have been wildly successful in weaving that same hypocrisy and non-sequitir into a cheap, Bedazzled knock-off of the American flag. And so it is thus, in this same absurd vein, that I have been organizing my own event, "Restoring Honor II: Electric Boogaloo", to take place next weekend on the front steps of The Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.*
Of course, some of you might ask, “Where does an opinionated, culturally Jewish, religiously agnostic woman get off using a place of such profound and sacred significance as a platform upon which to spout her own very personal, wildly unclear agenda?”
Some of you might be thinking, “Isn’t it in poor taste, to use a place intended for spiritual reflection, as an arena for unrelated esoteric discourse?”
In my contemplation of "honor restoration", many people, places, and things came to mind. Airport men’s rooms (dishonored by Larry Craig). Falafel (dishonored by Bill O’Reilly). Bristol Palin (dishonored by Levi Johnston). Levi Johnston (dishonored by himself and, later, by Kathy Griffin--but then who hasn't been dishonored by Kathy Griffin at one point or another?). Human hair (dishonored by Mitt Romney's hair--again, no offense to Mormons, as some of my best friends are Mormons).
While all of these things are worthy of mention at "Restoring Honor II: Electric Boogaloo", none are as deserving of reflection (a term repeated almost as many times at this weekend's rally as the word "God") as those who were dishonored five years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
As I watched the Beck rally this weekend--a rally supposedly organized to "reclaim" the Civil Rights Movement--I waited with great anticipation to see how he would address the proverbial elephant in the room, otherwise known as the civil rights violations in post-Katrina New Orleans, now being investigated by a federal grand jury. Given Hurricane Katrina's five year anniversary, I was certain that somebody would broach the topic, if only to pay lip service to the rally's skeptics and critics. Surprisingly, however, there was no mention of Katrina at all, not even in passing. Then again, perhaps this is a touchy subject for the pervertedly pious Beck, the same man who five years ago referred to the impoverished hurricane victims as "scumbags". In the immortal words of The Church Lady, "Well, isn't that special?"
I see at this whole paradox as a little like A.A.; the first step to reclaiming honor is identifying and acknowledging dishonor. Yet, in the several hours it took me to watch the rally footage, I did not hear one person articulate substantively how our nation had been dishonored. In my opinion, a discussion of Katrina and the pending investigations of such atrocities as the Danziger Bridge shooting would have been a really good start in that regard.
And finally, to those who might take issue with my playful sideways jab at Beck's Mormonism (did I mention some of my best friends are Mormons?), who feel that political discourse is one thing, but that an individual's religion is off-limits, I offer the following: Without civil rights, religion has not a leg on which to stand (a dynamic playing out right now two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City). Political correctness aside, the question remains--which is more sacred, Beck's god, or the movement that secured his right to worship that god? Furthermore, who is Glenn Beck to use that movement as free advertising for his unrelated, politically motivated shenanigans? Indeed, Beck pulled the ultimate bait and switch when he invoked the sanctity of the Civil Rights Movement and the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. in an effort to publicize and sensationalize a rally that, in reality, had nothing to do with either.
In the end, it doesn't matter that Beck's event centered around a nebulous discussion of "God" and "honor", or that the Civil Rights Movement is not technically a religion. In the opinion of this heathen, what Beck so cleverly orchestrated this past weekend was nothing short of blasphemy.
*Restoring Honor II: Electric Boogaloo is a satirical, fictional creation of the author and not a real event. Please don't actually appear at the Mormon Tabernacle for this, people. Sheesh.