Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Protest Racism, Glenn Beck and the MI Chamber of Commerce

Today, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce is hosting keynote speaker Glenn Beck at their 2009 "Future Forum" even though 62 companies have withdrawn their ads from his show, and he's now lost over 50 percent of his ad dollars. Major corporations dropped Beck because his extremist views don't align with their values or corporate culture. Beck called our president a racist with a "deep-seated hatred of white people." (The president is working hard to provide health care to all Americans, regardless of color. What's so racist about that?)

I've been writing about Beck and the Chamber for several weeks now and it wasn't until today that the media reported on it. Kathy Barks Hoffman reported that the MSU College Democrats and other groups would be protesting at the East Lansing event tonight, and she quoted Progress Michigan as saying the visit "brings shame" to the state. Chamber President Rich Studley sees it differently.
Chamber President Rich Studley says his group has a tradition of inviting speakers from across the political and ideological spectrum.

State Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer spoke last year, and Democratic strategist James Carville has spoken in the past.

Studley says the dinner is all about "ideas and healthy debate."
I'm pretty sure Brewer and Carville have never called a president or Supreme Court Justice a racist, or prayed for a politician to burst into flames. Beck said all of those "healthy" things and then some.

The Chamber chose a keynote speaker known for his inflammatory, over-the-top, racist rhetoric to speak at a forum sponsored by businesses. Racism is unhealthy and businesses should be sending that message loud and clear, not promoting it by choosing a keynote speaker known for those sentiments.

Healthy is standing up to racism. Healthy is being strongly committed to diversity. This is what AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka said earlier this week at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Diversity in Pittsburgh:
The union movement is becoming more diverse and the new leadership of the AFL-CIO is committed to working harder to reach out to young workers, people of color, women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers...
And this is what voices across the union movement said:
...we as a union movement need to look out for justice and fairness for every worker—on the job, in the community and in the union structure itself.

That includes not just race and gender, but also national origin, ability, sexual orientation, age and gender identity. And it doesn’t just mean talking with workers from various backgrounds—it means making sure that the leadership and the decision makers in unions reflect the members they represent.
By inviting Glenn Beck to speak to Michigan's business community, the Chamber leadership sends the message that they don't have a problem with racism. That's wrong, and it's not healthy for our state.

The MSU Dems are asking people to join them in protesting Beck's appearance night. You can RSVP on their Facebook page or contact Mitchell Rivard, President of the MSU College Democrats, at (989) 450-2534 or president@msudems.org. Please consider joining them.

(Cross-posted at Blogging for Michigan.)

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