The massive rally on the mall of Washington over the weekend has the media in a tangle. It was larger and more peaceful and more positive and less political than they expected, and this is all territory largely foreign to them. How to account for what they’re all calling ‘Glenn Beck’s rally’?

Though it was more about recovering personal virtue than replacing political parties, the CS Monitor suggests some politicians may have cause for concern.

Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington Saturday could not have been an encouraging sign for Democrats and the Obama administration.

The crowd was huge by any count – likely at least a couple hundred thousand people judging by aerial photos and the reported comments of some police officers – stretching from the Lincoln Memorial back to the Washington Monument.

And far from being a gathering of self-proclaimed rabble rousers carrying offensive signs insulting of President Obama, as has often been the case with “tea party” rallies spurred on by Mr. Beck, it was mostly a heartfelt and largely nonpartisan expression of civic concern, patriotism, and religious faith.

In other words, there may have been some Democrats in the crowd, but even they are likely not happy with the direction the country’s taking, according to recent polls – including the policies and programs pushed by the majority party in Congress and the White House.

And yet, this was a new Beck on a new mission, calling out Americans to change what’s wrong with the country by changing what’s wrong with themselves.

“We must get the poison of hatred out of us,” he told the crowd. “We must look to God and look to love. We must defend those we disagree with.”

This from a man who has called Obama “a racist” and likened Al Gore’s campaign against global climate change to “what Hitler did” in having scientists use eugenics to justify the Holocaust.

Which drives Beck’s critics nuts.

It’s driving them nuts partly because Beck is doing exactly what Obama did in 2007-2008, and doing it nearly as well. Most media don’t seem to be getting that, but in this NPR review of differing viewpoints on the rally, someone does.

At the widely read conservative webste, blogger “Allahpundit” thinks that “in a way, the rally … mirrored rallies held for then-candidate Barack Obama in 2007 and leading up to the election of 2008. Both this rally and many of Obama’s featured mesmerizing speakers, who chose to inspire audiences by rhetorically empowering them to take matters into their own hands.” But, Allahpundit adds, “while Beck’s rally emphasized belief in God, Obama’s generally emphasized himself as a savior of the American people.”

The comparison is both valid and important to understand. Obama was a masterful community organizer. The country has learned that skill from him and learned it well, and it’s working to galvanize individuals into a communal force for change.

That they rallied on this particular occasion where they did posed a problem, some say a huge offense.

The rally took place on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Beck is asking for a return to traditional American values, but the Reverend Al Sharpton accused him of trying to hijack King’s legacy.

“They want to disgrace this day. This is our day and we’re not giving it up,” said Sharpton.

With all due respect, I take issue with this claim. Dr. King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, took a prominent and active role in “Beck’s rally” at the site where her uncle delivered his impassioned rallying cry for the nation to ennoble itself and its citizens by recognizing the dignity of all humans. She has worked for years within the pro-life movement to promote King’s ideals and goals of realizing universal human rights across the spectrum, without exception. Her participation in Beck’s rally dignified it. Attacks like this disgrace the cause of unity King embodied.

“This is our day and we’re not giving it up”? What does this say? Dr. Martin Luther King said, passionately, that his dream is for a country that judges a person not by the color of their skin but the content of their character. It was an address about race as a highlight of the fundamental issue of human dignity. It dishonors Dr. King to narrowly and angrily claim that his rally belonged to one race and not the entire nation it sought to free from hatred and fear and rancor and division.

In Dr. King’s speech, just after he says

I have a dream that one day…right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

…he goes on to say what has far less been quoted:

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

He was a Christian preacher. He quoted the Gospel, and called on the nation to recall and embrace the meaning of ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee.‘

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

Many people are trying to do that still…and again.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....