Is this the point at which Glenn Beck’s fans and apologists will finally recognize him for the whirling void of a human being he is? Will they finally cry, as Roberto Duran did during his 1980 rematch against Sugar Ray Leonard, “No mas!”?
Probably not. But still…
As Michelle Goldberg writes at The Daily Beast, Beck launched a two-part “exposé” of the financier George Soros on his Fox News TV show this week that crossed what any rational person would consider all kinds of red lines.
“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.”
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.
Interestingly Beck’s demonization of Soros– at least in terms of his supposedly pervasive evil influence– is remarkably similar to the way Iranian state TV portrayed him a couple of years ago in a chillingly-realistic animated video. Soros was identified as “a Jewish tycoon and the mastermind of ultra-modern colonialism. He uses his wealth and slogans like liberty, democracy, and human rights to bring the supporters of America to power.”
Most shocking of all– yes, shocking even for Glenn Beck– is that he accused Soros, a Holocaust survivor, of being a Nazi collaborator. Goldberg writes:
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.
The Jewish Week reports:
What Beck said: Soros, a child in Hungary who survived by living with a non-Jewish family, “used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off. And George Soros was part of it. He would help confiscate the stuff. It was frightening. Here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps. And I am certainly not saying that George Soros enjoyed that, even had a choice. I mean, he’s 14 years old. He was surviving. So I’m not making a judgment. That’s between him and God. As a 14-year-old boy, I don’t know what you would do. I don’t know what you would do. But you would think that there would be some remorse as an 80-year-old man or a 40-year-old man or a 20-year-old man, when it was all over, you would do some soul searching and say, ‘What did I do? What did I do?’”
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. [If so it wouldn’t be the first time.] 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.”
In a statement, Abraham Foxman, the [Anti-Defamation League’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.”
Foxman is also a child survivor who lived only because his parents turned him over to his Catholic nanny.
“Look, I spit on Jews when I was six years old,” Foxman told The Jewish Week. “Does that make me an anti-Semite?”
And no: the fact that Soros has said some disgusting things about Israel and antisemitism, while Beck claims to be a strong supporter of the Jewish state, doesn’t excuse a damn thing.
Update: Interestingly, a top aide to Sarah Palin– Glenn Beck’s ideological soulmate– is on George Soros’s payroll.
(Hat tip: Andrew Murphy)