At his "Restoring Honor" rally a few minutes ago, Glenn Beck said that America only looks at its scars not its glory. However, I say that America's has honor only to the degree that it is willing to look at its scars.
The Civil Rights movement forced America, and the world, to look at social and political oppression of Black people.
Beck's rally is really a movement to restore White American honor, self-esteem. That is only good if White America is going to transform from the status quo posture of supremacy and privilege to embrace social equality. Some whites did that four or five decades ago, but as the vitriol of the Tea Party members have demostrated, a remnant breeding that entrenched bigotry of the past still remains.
I wrote about this in an earlier blog on Baldwin's The Fire Next Time. Speaking about White people, Baldwin wrote in a letter to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation:
They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know.
Whether Beck intends it or not, his rally is a good opportunity to challenge, invite, engage White Americans to act on their transformation, to right the wrongs not only of the past but the prolonged institutionalized racism still undermining the American progress that Beck wants to see emerge.
Beck is talking about adopting "American exceptionalism," but Americans are not exceptional, God is. God did not ordain Americans as good, He calls all of us to proclaim that He is glorious.
If White America does not fundamentally change, then to proclaim that Americans have a divine ordination but to continue to act out of human instincts of greed, power, bigotry, and selfishness is our fate, will continue to be what the world understands as the American way.