Glenn Beck is not known for being a man of moderate views, but in his latest attacks on renowned billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, he has subjugated whatever decency he has in favor of blatant anti-Semitism and politically-charged baiting. On his popular talk show on Fox News, Beck publicly accused George Soros of being in charge of a shadow government that has a sole purpose: the eventual overthrow of the United States government.
Beck uses a loose knowledge of historical events that did actually happen to construct this fatally flawed argument. He recalls George Soros’ interventions in other countries, notably Czechoslovakia, Georgia and Ukraine, and attempts to argue that Soros’ vaunted Open Societies Foundation was used as a tool for regime change and government overthrow. He ignores the basic purpose of these organizations (to disseminate information to the public in states that were widely known for their repressive relationships with the press) and mistakes Soros’ noble freedom of information mission for a sinister plot to bring the United States to its knees. The Open Societies Foundation has breathed new life into fledgling democratic movements in many closed societies, but rather than focus on this well-known aspect of Soros’s work, Beck chooses to indulge in conspiracy theories.
Beck’s assault on Soros is a new version of a familiar trope: the all-powerful, sinister Jewish force in global politics. This conspiracy theory has been around for centuries, and is responsible for some of the most horrific events of the 20th century, including the Holocaust during World War II. For right-wing demagogues and charismatic leaders alike, there is a real temptation to blame current troubles on some mysterious, wealthy “other” group, and for much of modern history the Jewish people have ably served in this scapegoat role. The ridiculous nature of many of these so-called theories — whether they focus on the omnipotent Rothschild family running the global banking system, or the studio heads and producers of Hollywood subtly pushing the Jewish agenda — is masked by the need of the audience to believe that someone or something (besides themselves, of course) is responsible for the ills of their society.
Glenn Beck identifies as a Republican, and the modern Republican party has a long history of advocating for the existence of a Jewish state and portraying itself as a friend to the Jewish people. However, Beck is also a party outsider popular with Tea Party members, many of whom are wholly convinced of the veracity of these anti-Semitic arguments. To Beck and his majority-white followers, George Soros simply represents an outsider, a minority, in a position of power and influence over the affairs of the state.
As history repeats itself and powerful anti-Semitic speakers rise once again on the right of the political spectrum, it is important to confront these arguments with what they deserve: derision, scorn, and a vow to be better than the worst in our society.
Learn more about George Soros: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/11/29/puppetry