Glenn Beck helped cement his reputation as a misinformed art critic today during his massive right-wing “Restoring Honour” rally, which was disturbingly organized on the anniversary — and in the exact location — of Martin Luther King’s historic “Dream” speech.
Perched in front of 300,000 monochromatic faces, Beck gave an architecture lesson concerning the design of the Washington Monument. The story is retold beautifully by L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight, who goes on to explain the ironic hilarity of Beck’s latest folly.
Pointing to the place about 150 feet up the Egyptian-style obelisk, where the color of the stone suddenly changes, Beck gravely exhorted the crowd to note the “scar” on the founding president’s memorial. It happened, he said, when construction was halted for the national trauma of the Civil War — the apparent implication being that Saturday’s rally would perform some necessary plastic surgery on race-related social divisions splitting the country.
Well, close but no cigar. In fact the “scar” predates the Civil War. […]
When building ceased [due to a lack of funds], a private group of political activists grabbed the project’s reins — but they promptly made a huge mess of things. When Pope Pius IX donated a building stone from the Temple of Concord in Rome for the restarted Washington Monument project, the [anti-Catholic] activists had it destroyed. Through in-fighting, ideological division and bursts of election-related violence, the group fell apart after two years. The shoddy work they had done on the monument had to be removed. Hence the “scar” we see today.
So the architectural imperfection Glenn Beck employed as he riled up his army of sectarian religious fanatics was, in fact, the mark of colossal failure by a group of sectarian religious fanatics. An inconvenient truth, no doubt, for the home-schooled art critic, so Beck just did what Beck knows best, and create an alternative history that fits his disturbing narrative.
Photo by Gage Skidmore.