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Beck’s ‘Symphony of Anti-Semitic Dog-Whistles’

Beck’s ‘Symphony of Anti-Semitic Dog-Whistles’

I fully realize that highlighting the incendiary ramblings of Glenn Beck has become yawn inducing.  They occur so frequently that news junkies, such as myself, have become desensitized.  However, Beck’s latest shotgun blast of offensiveness, related to his two day effort to further demonize liberal philanthropist George Soros, makes all of his previous efforts seem quaint.

According to Beck, Soros is a danger to America whose sinister influence guides liberal legislative initiatives and the actions of president Obama from behind the scenes.  Beck supports his accusations with series of quotes taken out of context and some rather shocking sins of omission.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Fox News to keep Glenn Beck’s lies off the air.

There are too many disprovable accusations to list here, and fortunately Media Matters has already done most of the debunking for us.  One notable example, however, is Beck’s charge that Soros “collapses regimes…”

BECK: With his Open Society Fund, which was founded in 1979, 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.

That’s right, America.  Soros yearns for your collapse; that is, if by collapse you mean “[provide] support to popular pro-democracy groups battling repressive regimes led by Communist of former Communist autocrats,” as Robert Mackey explained on his blog, (11/11).  Of course, this part of Soros’ past didn’t fit Beck’s narrative, and went without mention.   Perhaps this is because, as Mackey suggests, Beck’s critique of Soros’ anti-communist exploits puts the Fox host squarely in agreement with the Mullahs in Iran.

But this is a pretty standard half-truth smear from Beck; by itself, it’s just misleading, and not the source of the outrage that has erupted in the wake of the Fox host’s smearing of Soros.  That comes from Beck’s cropping of events further in Soros’ past, and the disturbing theme chosen for his presentation.

If you  know Soros only as the favorite boogeyman of the right (Eek! A billionaire liberal!), you should also know that he is a Holocaust survivor.  Soros survived because his  his parents arranged for a Christian family to take him in as the Nazis invaded his native Hungary.

Considering that, the theme chosen by Beck to attack Soros seems deliberately callous.  Over the course of two days, on his Fox television program and on the radio, Beck set about casting Soros as “The Puppet Master” whose influence on world affairs, past and present, points toward a goal of “one world government.”

So, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Beck’s chosen angle for attacking Soros was to emulate the language and propaganda employed by the Nazis for the purpose of labeling the Jews as the root of the world’s problems.  As Michelle Goldberg wrote in The Daily Beast, (11/10)

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 [them] Jewsdrahtzieher—wire-pullers. They constitute a power above and beyond ordinary government authority...

Goldberg goes on to characterize Beck’s framing of Soros as “a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles,” concluding, “Nothing like it has ever been on American television before.”

Similarly, M.J. Rosenberg, commentator on Jewish and Israeli issues for TalkingPointsMemo, noted, “I watched the first show but it was so anti-Semitic (my wife’s parents survived the Holocaust, like Soros) that I couldn’t watch the second. For the first time in my life, I felt that ‘it could happen here.’  Rosenberg praises Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman for condemning Beck’s remarks as “either out of total ignorance or total insensitivity.”

Foxman, also a Holocaust survivor, was reacting to Beck’s characterization of Soros’ experience as a teenager in Nazi occupied Hungary during his Nov. 9 television show:

BECK:  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, or anybody, an adult. Well, what did it do to George Soros? In an interview with Steve Kroft, Soros was asked if he felt guilt at all about taking the property from the Jews as a teenager. He responded, no.

Beck fails to mention that Soros explained to Kroft moments later, “I had no role in taking away that property.  So I had no sense of guilt.”

Beck reiterated the ‘sure, he had no choice, but shouldn’t Soros feel guilty about it?’ meme on his Nov. 10 radio show (audio via Media Matters), adding, “That’s between him and his God.”

This is the implication that has raised so many eyebrows.  Indeed, Soros, having assumed the identity of Sandor Kiss, the Christian godson of a Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture employee named Baumbach.  “This is what actually happened…,” Soros biographer Michael T. Kaufman explained in Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire (excerpt via Media Matters):

Shortly after George went to live with Baumbach, the man was assigned to take inventory on the vast estate of Mor Kornfeld, an extremely wealthy aristocrat of Jewish origin. The Kornfeld family had the wealth, wisdom, and connections to be able to leave some of its belongings behind in exchange for permission to make their way to Lisbon. Baumbach was ordered to go to the Kornfeld estate and inventory the artworks, furnishings, and other property. Rather than leave his “godson” behind in Budapest for three days, he took the boy with him. As Baumbach itemized the material, George walked around the grounds and spent time with Kornfeld’s staff…   He collaborated with no one and he paid attention to what he understood to be his primary responsibility: making sure that no one doubted that he was Sandor Kiss. Among his practical concerns was to make sure that no one saw him pee.

In his attempt to paint Soros as a Nazi collaborator, Beck makes no mention of these circumstances.

To emphasize why Beck’s implication is “totally off limits and over the top,” here’s more from the ADL head’s reaction by way of James Besser’s Nov. 11 post at The Jewish Week:

“Look, I spit on Jews when I was six years old,” Foxman told me. “Does that make me an anti-Semite?”

The issue of the Shoah “is so sensitive that I’m not even sure Holocaust survivors themselves are willing to make such judgments,” Foxman went on “For a political commentator or entertainer to have the audacity to say, there’s a Jewish boy sending Jews to death camps, that’s horrific…”

Read Besser’s post for other similar reactions from the leaders of Jewish, interfaith, and Holocaust survivor groups.

For video and audio of Beck’s Soros hatchet job, along with a detailed dissection of its numerous distortions and inaccuracies, see the following links from Media Matters:

It should also be noted that many of the above cited sources express doubt as to whether or not Beck’s remarks were deliberately anti-Semitic.  Rosenberg, for example, noted:

I am not saying Beck is anti-Semitic. I think he is so utterly ignorant of Jewish history and the history of Germany 1933-1945 that he is unaware of what he is doing. And, given that he works at Fox, there are no smart Jews there to say, “look, Glenn, this looks like classic Jew-baiting.”

Similarly, after his condemnation of Beck, noted above, Foxman told Salon.com, “[Glenn Beck] is a strong supporter of Israel and the Jewish people… But I also believe that there are certain things he doesn’t understand which have led him to make insensitive remarks.”

Beck has repeatedly asserted as much, but I think Foxman and Rosenberg are being generous.  After hearing the bulk of his attack of Soros, and knowing full well Beck’s habit of pandering to fundamentalist Christians, the Fox host’s support for Israel seems to have more to do with its geographic importance related to end-times Biblical prophecy than it does with his concern for those residing there.  Of course, that’s just my impression.  I look forward to reading yours in the comments section, below.

**TAKE ACTION: Tell Fox News to keep Glenn Beck’s lies off the air.**


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Glenn Beck image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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64 comments

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8:48PM PST on Nov 30, 2010

I sincerely feel that we should ignore (not write or talk about) these types. Publicity is what they feed on. Beck, Palin, O'Reilly. I signed the letter, but shouldn't we not discuss them, let them die? They get far too much attention, and it eggs them on. They have no shame. Out and out lies.

10:43PM PST on Nov 27, 2010

Noted

8:28AM PST on Nov 21, 2010

Glad to see that alot of us see beyond the images given to us by Faux News, and realize that Beck is a crazy nutjob. Seriously, I've heard some of his nonsense, and all I can say is wow. The guy is definitely an opportunistic tool, whom will do whatever it takes to stay on the air. Basically a male media prostitute ala Sarah Palin. Thanks but no thanks is all I got to say to that. I, for one, refuse to watch Faux News, and my family has also shut it off. Hopefully others start doing the same, and shutting Faux News off to protest this man's dense and idiotic, hate-mongering speeches.

11:34AM PST on Nov 20, 2010

@Paul B; You meant "Wing-Nutter movement", right?

8:10AM PST on Nov 18, 2010

Can't you see that it the progressive movement is all about control of the masses. The game is over, America has once again awakened to see the damage that has been done by both parties to our natural rights and freedoms. Our salvation will be returning the principles of equal justice, not social justice. Everyone has the same rights to succeed or fail, based upon effort, opportunity and bit of luck. Limiting potential doesn't bring the lower class up, it only serves to bring the every class down. Social engineering (the progressive motto) only inhibits personal growth, inhibits our opportunity to succeed, binds our hands from living as free people by enslaving us to the Master, the government. We must be careful what we ask for, a little security in exchange for freedoms does not always have the desired result. Dependency is a tough place to be. If we limit opportunities, we grow dependencies, dimish wealth, and restoring the freedom becomes increasingly difficult. Humans have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are no guarantees to any of those, just the equal opportunity to pursue it. LImiting that ability in anyway transforms this great country into just any other country, and that is NOT what the majority of Americans want. I can't understand why anyone would not want that. It is a balancing act between security and liberty... too far in either direction, extremism is where problems arise. That is why we must openly discuss all issues. Balance.

7:54AM PST on Nov 18, 2010

Patricia... Pity their pointy little heads, buried so deep in the sand they have no idea of the world around them. They have their little utopian world where they guide us ignorants around by the nose, telling us that money is bad, regardless of effort, we all should have the same stuff in our house (per Rev Jackson's view of MLK intention, how ridiculous), just living gives you the RIGHT to house, car, cable, big screen TV, Cell phone, health care, retirement, and anything else they believe are basic to human life. Capitalism is bad because those who work hard make too much money, while those that sit on their ass and do nothing have nothing. What an interesting concept, work for what you want. Granted there are those that truly need support, and they will be taken care of, but the abuses of the system brought about by wide-spread entitlements is only social justice, redistribution of wealth and that is socialism. They believe the governmenet is the answer to all our problems, lacking any personal responsibility we become enslaved to the hand that feeds. That kills all motivation to suceed and eventually you run out of people even willing to try, money generation fails, and everyone now lives in poverty, except of course those elitists who control it all, the government that fed you now owns you. Is that your idea of utopia? Because that is where we are headed. I can not understand why so many liberal/progressives can't see beyond the curtain and realize more of this.

7:13PM PST on Nov 17, 2010

Patricia:

Sorry, but time will prove Glenn Beck to be exactly what he is: a petty, vicious, ignorant, foolish. mean-mouthed and mean-spirited little toad of a man who spent his life and wasted America's time being wrong at the top of his lungs. And he likes it that way.

7:25AM PST on Nov 17, 2010

Wow Patricia S., how does the Kool-Ade taste?

5:39AM PST on Nov 17, 2010

Paul B,
I call it a combo of total ignorance and jealousy!!!!!

5:36AM PST on Nov 17, 2010

A shame that so many of you are so very, very ignorant! Time will certainly prove Glenn Beck correct! Mark my word.

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