The night before Glenn Beck's rally in Washington last month, Beck visited the studio where host Joe Madison does his XM radio show. Madison invited Beck into the studio, and asked him, "Why would you call President Obama a racist? He's not a racist."
Beck responded that calling Obama a racist was a "stupid comment, off the top of the head," and that it was "an ignorant comment." So far so good. Beck continued, "Now that I really understand how he grew up, where he grew up, what his influences were -- it's more of a liberation theology kind of attitude that he has, that I immediately interpreted -- because I didn't understand him. I think his attitude is more like Bill Ayers -- that America is an oppressor. And I just happen to disagree with that." Madison replied, "But for black people, we have been oppressed!"
As the conversation continued, Madison repeated his question:
MADISON: You do not believe President Obama is a racist?
BECK: I've said this before.
MADISON: Was that a mistake?
BECK: Absolutely it was. And I've said that before. I misunderstood -- this I just said the other day -- I misunderstood his philosophy and his theology, which is liberation theology.
MADISON: Which was [Martin Luther] King's philosophy. Big time.
BECK: Didn't know that. I'll talk to Alveda [King] today about it.
MADISON: Oh, talk to his father. You know who you should talk to? Talk to Rev. Walter Fauntroy, who grew up with King. That was his philosophy -- it was the theological philosophy of social justice.
BECK: Right. I am not a fan of social justice.
MADISON: That's where we really part. I am a big fan of social justice -- because of having not had social justice, having been a victim of the lack of social justice. But how can you say you're not a fan of social justice?
BECK: We have great differences.
Listen to the whole conversation on Joe Madison's website or below:
Jim Rice is editor of Sojourners magazine.