Monday, January 24, 2011

Glenn Beck's Anti-Semitic Attacks

The Daily Beast
by Michelle Goldberg


The Fox host’s stunning two-day tirade against George Soros is a new low on American television. Michelle Goldberg on the roots of his hatred—and the Anti-Defamation League’s response.

Anti-Semitism, like all ideologies, tells a story about the world. It’s a story about almost occult Jewish power, about cabals that manipulate world events for their own gain. In classic anti-Semitic narratives, Jews control both the elites and the masses; they’re responsible for the communist revolution and the speculative excesses of capitalism. Their goal is to undermine society so that they can take over. Through the lens of anti-Semitism, social division, runaway inflation, and moral breakdown all make sense because they all have the same cause. Nazi propaganda called Jews drahtzieher—wire-pullers. They constitute a power above and beyond ordinary government authority. “There is a super-government which is allied to no government, which is free from them all, and yet which has its hand in them all,” Henry Ford wrote in The International Jew.

Article - Goldberg Beck Soros Glenn Beck and George Soros. (AP Photos) If you know this history, you’ll understand why Glenn Beck’s two-part “exposé” on George Soros, whom Beck calls “The Puppet Master,” was so shocking, even by Beck’s degraded standards. The program, which aired Tuesday and Wednesday, was a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles. Nothing like it has ever been on American television before.

“There is a crisis collapsing our economy—George Soros,” Beck said on Tuesday’s show. “When the administration and progressives look for a savior to step in and save the day—George Soros… He’s pulled no punches about the end game. It’s one world government, the end of America's status as the prevailing world power—but why?” Because, Beck suggests, Soros wants to rule us all like a God: “Soros has admitted in the past he doesn't believe in God, but that's perhaps because he thinks he is.”

Soros, a billionaire financier and patron of liberal causes, has long been an object of hatred on the right. But Beck went beyond demonizing him; he cast him as the protagonist in an updated Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He described Soros as the most powerful man on earth, the creator of a “shadow government” that manipulates regimes and currencies for its own enrichment. Obama is his “puppet,” Beck says. Soros has even “infiltrated the churches.” He foments social unrest and economic distress so he can bring down governments, all for his own financial gain. “Four times before,” Beck warned. “We’ll be number five.”

Beck went beyond demonizing Soros; he cast him as the protagonist in an updated Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

It’s true, of course, that Soros has had a hand in bringing down governments—communist, authoritarian governments. Beck seems to be assuming a colossal level of ignorance on the part of his viewers when he informs them, “Along with currencies, Soros also collapses regimes. With his Open Society Fund… Soros has helped fund the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic, the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia. He also helped to engineer coups in Slovakia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia. So what is his target now? Us. America.”

Beck’s implication is that there was something sinister in Soros’ support for anti-communist civil society organizations in the former Soviet Union. Further, he sees such support as evidence that Soros will engineer a communist coup here in the United States. This kind of thinking only makes sense within the conspiratorial mind-set of classic anti-Semitism, in which Jews threaten all governments equally. And as a wealthy Jew with a distinct Eastern European accent, Soros is a perfect target for such theories.


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To inoculate himself against charges of anti-Semitism, Beck hurled them at Soros, pointing out that he’s an atheist and a critic of Israel. He accused Soros of helping Nazis steal Jewish property as a teenager and of feeling no remorse about it. In fact, when Soros was 14 in Nazi-occupied Hungary, his father bribed an agriculture official to pretend that the boy was his Christian godson. Soros once had to accompany his protector to inventory a confiscated Jewish estate. Asked by 60 Minutes if he felt guilty about it, he said no, because he wasn’t at fault. The slander that he was a Nazi collaborator has proliferated on the right ever since.

It’s entirely possible that Beck has waded into anti-Semitic waters inadvertently, that he picked up toxic ideas from his right-wing demimonde without realizing their anti-Jewish provenance. Early on Wednesday’s show, Beck cited the “Prime Minister of Malaysia” on Soros’ villainy. As Media Matters pointed out, he was almost certainly talking about former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Maybe he doesn’t know that Mohamad also said, “We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally Soros is a Jew.”

“There’s a difference between first-degree murder and vehicular homicide, which is intentionality,” says J.J. Goldberg, a columnist and former editor in chief of The Forward, America’s leading Jewish newspaper. Goldberg wasn’t convinced that Beck meant to attack Jews. Nevertheless, he described the show as “as close as I’ve heard on mainstream television to fascism.”

On Thursday morning, the Anti-Defamation League, which exists to combat anti-Semitism, finally condemned Beck. Earlier, I’d criticized the group for its silence, a change that Todd Gutnick, the ADL’s director of media relations, fiercely disputed. “Sometimes the ADL likes to consider what it’s going to say before it says it,” he said. “In this case we wanted to see the totality of what he was doing on the air before speaking out.”

In a statement, Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director and a Holocaust survivor himself, expressed outrage over Beck’s charges about Soros’ behavior as a boy in Nazi-occupied Hungary, which Beck made on television on Tuesday and again on the radio Wednesday. “Glenn Beck’s description of George Soros’ actions during the Holocaust is completely inappropriate, offensive and over the top,” said Foxman. “For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say—inaccurately—that there’s a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, as part of a broader assault on Mr. Soros, that’s horrific… To hold a young boy responsible for what was going on around him during the Holocaust as part of a larger effort to denigrate the man is repugnant.”

Michelle Goldberg is a journalist based in New York. She is the author of The New York Times bestseller Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World, winner of the 2008 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award and the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize. Goldberg's work has appeared in Glamour, Rolling Stone, The Nation, New York magazine, The Guardian (UK) and The New Republic. Her third book, about the world-traveling adventuress, actress and yoga evangelist Indra Devi, will be published by Knopf in 2012.



Glenn Beck indulges in classic anti-Semitic conspiracism in his hourlong smear of Soros
By David Neiwert

Glenn Beck unleashed his long-promised all-out attack on George Soros yesterday, and it was a doozy. Indeed, as both Ellen at NewsHounds and Ben Dimiero at Media Matters point out, in a normative world it would get him fired -- it was so rife with flat-out falsehoods and truly vicious distortions that Beck probably has indeed exposed Fox to a multimillion-dollar slander suit, should Soros choose to pursue it, public figure or not.

MM has compiled the entire hour Here. Meanwhile, Terry Krepel has compiled the list of utterly false things about Soros that Beck wants you to believe.

Anyone familiar with the history of anti-Semitism in America is more than familiar with the architecture of Beck's argument: Here is this conniving, conspiratorial rich international-investor JEW who is buying up all the media in American and surreptitiously seeking to destroy the American economy. The only thing new here is that Soros, an avowed atheist, has a largely secular "hidden agenda" rather than a religious one.



One of Beck's smears in particular stood out in this regard -- namely, his LaRouchite claim that Soros had participated in "confiscating" Jewish properties:

Beck: His childhood is shocking, dramatic. He grew up in Nazi Europe. Fourteen years old -- he had to help the government confiscate the lands of his fellow Jewish friends and neighbors.

He did not grow up in a strong-Jewish household. His mother was a strong anti-Semite -- George Soros' words, not mine -- but when he had to go over and take the lands from the people, his Jewish friends and neighbors who were being sent to the gas chambers -- I can't imagine what that would do to a teenager, anybody, an adult.

Well, what did it do to George Soros? In an interview with Steve Croft, Soros was asked if he felt guilt at all about taking the property from the Jews as a teenager. He responded, no. He also said, quote, 'I don't deny the Jews their national existence. But I don't want to be a part of it.'

Beck isn't the first figure on Fox to indulge this smear: Ann Coulter has done the same. And as we explained then:

The claim that Soros was a "Nazi collaborator" originated with the LaRouche organization and has since spread to the likes of David Horowitz.

The facts: Soros was a Hungarian Jew who survived the Holocaust. From Media Matters:

Michael T. Kaufman wrote in a biography of Soros, Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire (Knopf, 2002), that Soros' father attempted to protect his family from Nazi persecution by paying an employee of Hungary's Ministry of Agriculture named Baumbach to take in Soros, "ostensibly as his godson." Soros accompanied his "godfather" as he went to oversee the confiscation of property from Hungarian Jews, as Media Matters has noted.

This is also where Coulter actually lies about Soros -- and it's an outrageous lie, too. Soros never was involved in "pointing out Jews" -- he simply accompanied his protector while he carried out his civic duties, which included confiscating property from Jews.

Here's the relevant passage from the 60 Minutes interview in question:

Kroft: You're a Hungarian Jew ...

Soros: Mm-hmm.

Kroft: ... who escaped the Holocaust ...

Soros: Mm-hmm.

Kroft: ... by posing as a Christian.

Soros: Right.

Kroft: And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.

Soros: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made.

Kroft: In what way?

Soros: That one should think ahead. One should understand that -- and anticipate events and when, when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a -- a very personal threat of evil.

KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

SOROS: Yes. Yes.

KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes.

Kroft: I mean, that's -- that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

Soros: Not, not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't ... you don't see the connection. But it was -- it created no -- no problem at all.

Kroft: No feeling of guilt?

Soros: No.

Kroft: For example, that, 'I'm Jewish, and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be these, I should be there.' None of that?

Soros: Well, of course, ... I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was -- well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in the markets -- that is I weren't there -- of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would - would -- would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the -- whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the -- I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.

That's right: The reason Soros didn't feel any guilt is that he in fact was only a spectator and bore no role or responsibility for the confiscation of Jewish property.

Soros actually deserves our respect for having survived the Holocaust -- and Glenn Beck deserves widespread condemnation for reviving the classic anti-Semitic smear about a Jewish "puppet master" conspiring to destroy and control America.

As Matt Gertz pointedly observes:

After explaining how he's not at all anti-Semitic, Beck segued directly into common anti-Semitic stereotypes about Soros being at the center of a vast web that is "collapsing our economy" and remaking our government. Elsewhere in the show, he detailed Soros' efforts to create a "media empire" and control the U.S. government. And of course, Beck's central frame for the entire program is that Soros is the "puppet master," devilishly manipulating all other players to his own ends.

Ah, but there's no bigger supporter of Israel than Glenn Beck, right? He just wants to see them blown up in a coming Armageddon.

He can't possibly be anti-Semitic, can he?

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