What would God say?
A day or so I received this email regarding Glen Beck’s crusade against the “social justice” activities and pronouncements by Churches, Temples, Mosques and Synagogues. I’m proud to have joined the many thousands of people of all religions who spoke our religious teachings against Beck’s idiotic mouthings. I don’t know whether or not he believes what he says – certainly the Mormon Church to which Beck says he belongs does not agree with him – but he stains the true teachings of the three Abrahamic faiths and all others.
Last week in West Virginia, 29 coal miners were killed by an explosion of methane gas. The mine operator, Massey Energy Company, received 57 safety citations in March alone and workers had to evacuate three times in the last two months because of dangerous methane build-ups.
By nearly all accounts, the explosion was preventable. By nearly all accounts, the government agency responsible for preventing it has been rendered impotent. Enforcement mechanisms have been stripped to the point that Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis can simply state: “We don’t have the authority to shut down a mine as easily and as quickly as the public might think.”
We face a clear and urgent problem. The lives of American workers are in jeopardy. Diverse voices are clamoring for change. But not all. How did Tea Party leader Glenn Beck respond to this tragedy? Silence. The Tea Party is a movement ostensibly predicated on advocating for working Americans such as the miners. But when tragedy strikes, leaders like Glenn Beck have nothing to say.
The day following the mine disaster, Beck made no mention of the tragedy on his radio or television programs. He spent not a moment, not a syllable, addressing the corporate practices and regulatory failures that led to the immolation and suffocation of two dozen men a thousand feet underground. He focused instead on pillorying the Administration for their nuclear policy.
We must then ask: to what extent does Glenn Beck really care about solving the problems Americans face? It seems the answer is: little. He is more interested in providing scapegoats and straw men to those who might buy his books – scapegoats like our government and the agency that could have saved those lives. Sadly, so far, the Tea Party is following his lead.
We take a different approach. For 25 years, we’ve worked to create economic opportunity and security for all workers across this country. We support and partner with congregations, religious leaders, and institutions to develop and advocate for solutions that address the needs of Americans. We believe that social justice provides common ground across faith lines, and that, as I wrote in a post at the Washington Post’s On Faith blog, government must play a role in bolstering such efforts.
We stand resolutely in opposition to Beck’s implications that social justice is un-American and that the government shouldn’t be empowered. So, we’ve challenged him. Last week, you may have heard reference to us in an unexpected place: on Glenn Beck’s radio and television shows. (Here are the radio and television mentions in case Beck isn’t part of your regular media diet.)
Indeed, we made national news through our project Haik U Glenn Beck, a website that allows people to respond to Glenn Beck’s comments calling on people to leave churches involved in social justice work. The site, and our innovative “Twitterstorm” which flooded Glenn Beck with more than 3,000 haiku in support of social justice, generated dozens of headlines from USA Today, Huffington Post, and Washington Post to Boing Boing and Newsweek’s blog.
We designed Haik U Glenn Beck to provide an accessible platform for individuals to respond to Glenn Beck’s comments and views and to have some fun, using wit and satire – and thousands responded. Getting Beck’s attention is not the point or purpose of our efforts, but if it helps shift the national dialogue about the validity of his opinions, our efforts are worthwhile.
The government of the United States – constructed of, by, and for the people, as Lincoln so timelessly put it – plays a critical, irreplaceable, and often unseen role in our lives. It is not the cause of all of our problems. Blaming the government to sell books – that’s the problem. Pointing at scapegoats instead of solutions is the problem. We must step in where Beck and his peers step aside. How can we protect and improve the lives of American workers? We strengthen the movements and institutions that help people address the real problems they and their communities face, and advance strategies that will put our country back on track.
That’s what we do every day. As always, thank for your partnership in these efforts.
Subscribe to comments with RSS.