Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lee Harris on "Restoring Honor"

Timothy Dalrymple wrote the other day that "Glenn Beck gets it." I don't know anything about Mr. Beck, except that he has a radio or TV show, but as we wrote on the day of the rally "300,000 Americans who take honor seriously is a very good sign."

Here are some nice observations on the meaning of last week's Restoring Honor rally, by Lee Harris.

"To many hostile observers, the event was simply the latest installment in the ongoing antics of the Tea Party. But the keynote of the occasion, 'Restoring Honor,' along with its celebration of 'traditional American values,' suggests a decided movement, if not away from, then at least beyond the Tea Party. Far from being directed exclusively at Tea Partiers, Beck’s rally addressed those millions of ordinary Americans who are deeply resentful at what they perceive as a massive and well-coordinated attack on traditions they hold sacred.

The Tea Party began as an antitax and anti-big government movement. Many of the most prominent Tea Party spokesmen showed little interest in the vexing cultural issues that have increasingly divided Americans for several decades—indeed, most seemed quite happy to distance themselves from such hot button topics as abortion, immigration, and gay marriage. Out of the gamut of 'traditional American values,' the Tea Party focused almost exclusively on our Founding Fathers’ preference for limited government. Scant attention was paid to the emotionally charged themes celebrated in the Beck rally—the sacred causes of national honor, patriotism, God. To the Tea Party, the only sacred cause was liberty, including the liberty to ignore or even to flout traditions venerated by other people in their society....

The Beck rally bore abundant witness to the profound degree of alienation that American traditionalists feel when they look at the mass culture that surrounds them, and which they see as intent on mocking everything they hold to be sacred. Sure, they might want lower taxes and smaller government, too; but they also want to return to an era in which their own traditional values were reflected in the TV shows they watched, the movies they went to, the education that their kids received in the public schools paid for by their tax dollars. They do not want to see what they cherish most in the world held up to ridicule, especially when the ridicule is presented in attractively packaged forms that are designed especially to appeal to their own kids. They resent what they perceive as the indoctrination and brainwashing of the next generation. They feel that their own deeply held 'traditional American values' are under attack—and they are right."

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