On August 28, Fox News commentator Glenn Beck confounded his colleagues in the media when he brought hundreds of thousands of Americans to the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC for a rally he called "Restoring Honor."
While former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was the keynote speaker, the rally was decidedly apolitical. The speakers said nothing controversial. The crowd was enthusiastic but not rowdy. US President Barack Obama was never even mentioned by name. In the event, the massive crowd gathered, prayed, celebrated American military heroes, listened to patriotic speeches and songs. Then the participants picked up their garbage and went home.
So what was it all about? Why do many people see it as a watershed event?
Although Beck called the rally "Restoring Honor," it wasn't really about restoring honor. It was about restoring something even more important. It was about restoring the American creed.
That creed is so ingrained that it has served as the subtext of every major political and civic speech by every American political and civic leader since the eighteenth century.
The American creed has two main components. First, its core belief is that America is an exceptional country and that the American people are an exceptional nation. Second, it asserts that as Abraham Lincoln first said outright, America is the last, best hope for mankind.
The reason Beck's rally was a watershed event is that in the Age of Obama, millions of Americans for the first time feel the need to reclaim what they believe is their birthright as Americans. Because what distinguishes Obama from his predecessors is that he is the first American President who clearly rejects the American creed.
This basic truth was first brought to the public's attention during Obama's visit to Turkey last year. A reporter there asked him, "[Do] you subscribe, as many of your predecessors have, to the school of 'American exceptionalism' that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world, or do you have a slightly different philosophy?"
Obama replied, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."
That is, the US President said, no, he doesn't believe in American exceptionalism. He rejects the American creed.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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