How Glenn Beck's Twisted Worldview Goads Disturbed People into Acts of Violence
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Promoting Classic Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory
Beck recently devoted a huge amount of airtime to a multiple-show attack on George Soros, a financier and philanthropist who has funded a number of the progressive organizations that Beck tells his viewers are out to destroy America. Journalist Michelle Goldberg called the Soros attacks “a new low on American television” and spelled out the way Beck’s anti-Soros conspiracy theory was just an updated version of standard malevolent-Jews-secretly-control-the-world anti-Semitism.
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.
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.
Oddly, Beck complained that Soros had “brought down four governments” -- Soros’ Open Society Fund did back pro-democratic forces struggling against communist tyrannies -- and warned that the U.S. would be the fifth.
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.
And it goes without saying that this kind of conspiracy theory has often fueled anti-Jewish hatred and violence.
Progressive radio host Cenk Uygur described another part of Beck’s attack on Soros as “a lie so grotesque that it goes beyond the pale of even dirty politics.” As a child, Soros’ father tried to protect him from Nazis by bribing a local official to claim that Soros was the official’s Christian godson. At one point, the 14-year old Soros had to accompany the official on a trip to appraise land that had been confiscated by Jews. In Beck’s version, that became Soros helping the government confiscate the land of his friends and neighbors, and worse, “a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.”
The episode is classic Beck, told without regard for the truth, and with an intention to cast the most awful aspersions on his target. The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman called Beck’s criticisms of Soros “horrific,” “repugnant,” and “offensive.”
In recent months Beck, in his eagerness to smear his opponents as America-hating-communists, has been promoting books that turn out to have been written by notoriously anti-Semitic authors. Beck cited Elizabeth Dilling’s 1934 “The Red Network” as evidence that “McCarthy was absolutely right.” Media Matters calls Dilling “one of the more prolific anti-Semites of the mid-20th century.” Beck has also quoted from “Secrets of the Federal Reserve” by white supremacist Eustace Mullin.