One of the most famous numbers in the 40s in all of modern literature is: 42. That is the answer which the super computer "Deep Thought" came up with after 7.5 million years of crunching on the request to answer the ultimate question. Unfortunately, by the time Deep Thought found the answer, no one could remember the question.
One of the least famous number in the 40s in all of modern literature is 47 which, as it happens, is the number of years since Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech;" a speech that altered the course of America history for the better in 1963.
As you have now heard 1,279 times, Glen Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial was held on the 47th anniversary of Dr. King's speech.
The best thing which can be said for 47 is that it is a prime number. It is the 15th prime number which, unfortunately, is not a prime number because it is divisible by 1, 3, 5 and itself: 15.
The BBC called on Thursday and asked if I might be interested in coming to their studios on Saturday morning to talk about the rally. I said I would be interested, but that I didn't think the BBC would be interested in what I had to say because I was for the Beck rally.
"What about Al Sharpton?" the BBC person asked?
Glenn Beck, I said, had affirmatively promised a positive event. Al Sharpton had effectively promised a negative event.
"What about having it on the anniversary of the King speech?"
I said that in America we generally made a big deal of event anniversaries which are divisible by five (the fifth anniversary of Katrina came to mind); rarely do we make a big deal about event anniversaries divisible by 47.
Guess what? The BBC emailed me on Friday and said that they had changed the line-up and I wouldn't be needed.
In the words of that celebrated American philosopher, Gomer Pyle: "Surprise, surprise, surprise."
Glenn Beck created a non-political (he asked that no one bring protest signs and almost no one did); pro-American, and pro-religious event. The New York Times, not known as a parrot of conservative causes, had this as its lead paragraph:
An enormous and impassioned crowd rallied at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial this weekend, summoned by Glenn Beck, a conservative broadcaster who called for a religious rebirth in America at the site where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech exactly 47 years earlier.
The attempt by the Left to paint the event as racist was pretty seriously undermined by the appearance and speech by the niece of Martin Luther King, Alveda King, a noted Black conservative activist whose appearance made racism a difficult case to make.
Then came the claims that Beck's call for a religious renaissance in the United States was somehow anti-Constitutional. The First Amendment, as you well know, does not forbid the mention of God in American life - even official American life. In fact, it appears to say just the opposite:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (emphasis added).
I didn't go to the Beck rally because it is not the sort of event I enjoy attending; but I did watch much of Beck's speech on CSPAN which covered it live. According to NBC some 300,000 people did attend and covered the area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
That counts as a major event, even in Your Nation's Capital.
Dr. King's 10-minute speech 47 years ago changed, as our Declaration of Independence put it, "the course of human events."
We all know the second paragraph of the Declaration includes this sentence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Not many of us have read all the way to the bottom since Vince Mirandi's high school social studies class. Our Declaration of Independence ends with these words:
And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
Renewing our "reliance on the protection of Divine Providence" doesn't seem like such a bad idea, even after 234 years.