Glenn Beck’s Jewish Problem

Last Wednesday (Glenn Beck Program, 11/10/10), we got a glimpse of how low Glenn Beck will go to smear a political opponent. Beck’s lie that philanthropist George Soros helped “send the Jews to the death camps” during World War II, was, in essence, an attack on a Jewish child for the heartbreaking things he was put through in the course of surviving the Holocaust.

But the smear was just part of the anti-Soros crusade Beck is carrying out on his national radio program and his Fox News show, portraying Soros as an “puppet master” who operates behind the scenes to destroy America as we know it and bring on a new international order. The language and imagery Beck employs in his attacks on Soros has provoked charges of anti-Semitism from the Daily Beast‘s Michelle Goldberg, among others. According to Goldberg:

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.

Goldberg leaves little doubt about whether she thinks Beckâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s broadcasts are anti-Semitic–she calls them “a symphony of anti-Semitic dog whistles”– but she allows that Beck may not fully understand the historical the terms and images he is dealing in:

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.

Whatever the case, it’s not the first time Beck has been linked to anti-Semitism, or at least to anti-Semites. As Media Matters has observed, Beck’s reading list, the roster of books he recommends to his viewers and listeners, includes titles by notorious anti-Semites:

On June 4, Beck took to the radio waves and told his audience all about this wonderful book he was reading called The Red Network: A “Who’s Who” and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots. According to Beck, this book, from 1934, was proof that “McCarthy was absolutely right,” and evidence that even back before McCarthy went on his Red hunts, people in America shared Beck’s concern about the Communist infiltration of the country. “This is a book–and I’m a getting a ton of these–from people who were doing what we’re doing now.”

As it turned out, The Red Network‘s author, Elizabeth Dilling, was one of the anti-Communist movement’s great anti-Semites. The book itself blamed “revolutionary Russian Jews” for the rise of anti-Semitic German fascism and called “racial intermixture” a communist plot. Dilling would go on to attend Nazi rallies in Germany and nickname Dwight Eisenhower “Ike the kike.” Beck was unapologetic, instead making himself the martyr, saying that “the left” was calling him “a Jew-loving Nazi sympathizer.”

On September 22, Beck went on Fox News and introduced his viewers to another book, called Secrets of the Federal Reserve, pulling a quote from it to attack Woodrow Wilson. The author of Secrets of the Federal Reserve was one Eustace Mullins, who passed away earlier this year. His obituary in his hometown paper began as follows: “Nationally known white supremacist and anti-Semite Eustace Mullins of Staunton, described in 2000 by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a one-man organization of hate, died Wednesday in Waller County, Texas, at age 86.”

Secrets of the Federal Reserve details the conspiracy of German Jewish bankers to seize the wealth of the United States through the Federal Reserve. Mullins led a prolific and well-documented life of anti-Semitism and conspiracy mongering, two themes that converged when he blamed the 9/11 attacks on the Israeli Mossad.

Moreover, in May, Beck repeated one of the classic tropes of anti-Semitism. While attempting to refute a point of black liberation theology, Beck incidentally repeated the old anti-Semitic saw that the Jews killed Christ:

If he was a victim, and this theology was true, then Jesus would’ve come back from the dead and made the Jews pay for what they did.

As the anecdotes and evidence mount, it’s harder to see Beck’s repetition of the classic themes of anti-Semitism as inadvertent.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.