A Glenn Beck Reader
11/23/2010 - 18:29

Virtually no commentators, left or right, have defended Glenn Beck's vicious attack on George Soros.  Commentary called Beck's tirade "marred by ignorance and offensive innuendo"; the ADL's Abe Foxman called them "horrific" and "over the top"; and this week, The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg writes that Beck hit "tropes [that] correspond uncannily to those of classical anti-Semitism."

Beck depicted Soros, a stridently liberal financier, as a shadowy manipulator of left-wing groups, the media, and other varied interests whose ultimately goal is to enrich himself and establish himself as a world power.  More repugnant, Beck twisted Soros' actions as as a thirteen-year-old boy in Nazi-allied Hungary.

Soros has said that his father forged documents that hid his Jewish identity and put him under the protection of a Hungarian functionary in charge of confiscating Jewish property. Soros remembered attending the official on one such trip, which led Beck to say of Soros on his three-part Fox News special last week: "Here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps."

I am not sure I have much to add to the already copious commentary on Beck's pathetic performance. (In addition to my colleague James Besser's interview with Foxman, see The Atlantic's recap and the The Daily Beast's column for other noteworthy takes.)

But I will say this: Beck does not have to be driven by a secret anti-semitic agenda to ignorantly propound anti-semitic ideas. That may be the tragedy of this whole ordeal. Beck prides himself on his self-taught brilliance, an autodidact libertarian who need not succumb to the pervasive liberal agenda that infests American instutions: the school system, the media, universities, the government, you name it. 

But if being self-taught is a virtue--it is--Beck reminds us of its limits. With him, we see what happens when we have nothing but scorn and suspicion of established institutions.  (Funny that many consider him a conservative, for that matter.)

Paranoia is Beck's stock and trade. And it plays well with those who harbor a sense of alienation and its accompaniment, outrage. The problem, of course, is that paranoia only works well when you lack power.  But for some time now Beck hasn't.  His show averages about 2 million viewers, and his influence far exceeds that.  Mark Lilla, in The New York Review of Books this week, gives an exhaustive review of the various ways in which Beck's empire continues to grow. 

All of this leads me to think that, if the wisdom of Beck's own crowd does not temper his tirades, we're in trouble.  Paranoia is normal, but I hope it does not become normative. Beck makes you wonder.

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George Soros is such a wonderful Jewish Person i haven't so many Jewish organizations come to his defense since the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. These Jewish groups have revolving leaders all rich Jews many with Tenuous ties Judaism.How about speaking out for Johnathan Pollard .
The point about being "self taught" is important. Being self taught can indeed make someone well informed, but in a vacuum it can also make them unselfcritical. The value of learning from teachers and peers is that it exposes you to other points of view and provides the possibility of examining and re-examining your own positions. It could be that Beck's self righteous tone comes from a lack of experience with debating a range of ideas in an intellectual setting and instead just studying what reinforces his own predetermined views.
Thanks, can I copy this article for my blog: warorpeace.wordpress.com? I will include your name. best, Paolosilv
Regarding Letting tax cuts expire for over 250,00 per year. "Letting the wealthiest Americans off the hook for paying their fair share would cost the country more than fifty times as much as extending unemployment benefits and shows just how out of whack priorities in Washington are right now." Their fair share. Are you kidding me? Please contact me, because I am disgusted with the left. Dick 207-754-3425
You have not watched any of Beck's shows, or else you would know that his allusions to Soros being a Jew are only a prelude to understanding the billionaire's psyche. Soros is a one-world government proponent, and is not shy to say so. This, not being Jewish by birth, is the reason to fear the Soros. Soros does not espouse being Jewish, and in all likelihood does not care about your defense of him, except in the most useful of ways. "I am the Lord thy G-d who brought thee of of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." And so we shall remain as long as we keep Torah.
You have your head in the sand. There's no reason for the viewer to know that Soros is Jewish in the first place, if not to insinuate a Jewish conspiracy behind Soros' globalist agenda. Besides, it was a false smear on a personal level. Soros said that he had no remorse for his actions in the Holocaust because he was simply surviving in hiding and was never in a position to save anyone. Beck twisted the story to say that Beck sold his fellow Jews down the river and isn't sorry for it.

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