IDEOLOGY

Tea Party Seizes on MLK Mantle

Thousands of Tea Partiers are descending on Washington, D.C. this weekend to rally on the National Mall on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech—ironic, since they’ve often been accused of racism. But the Tea Party sees no irony. Feeling persecuted and ignored by Washington, its activists, mostly middle-class white men, have seized on the language of the civil-rights movement. Rally organizer and Fox News host Glenn Beck says King’s vision has been “corrupted” because character “doesn’t even matter in the country anymore.” “We are the ones that must stand for civil and equal rights, justice, equal justice,” Beck said on his radio show. “Not special justice, not social justice. We are the inheritors and protectors of the civil-rights movement.” The Tea Party opposes many social programs, calling them Marxist, and if they read King’s speeches more closely, they would find him calling for an “economic bill of rights,” job guarantees, and for the country to acknowledge its “debt to the poor.”