Glenn Beck unleashed his long-promised all-out attack on George Soros yesterday, and it was a doozy. Indeed, as both Ellen at NewsHounds and Ben Dimiero at Media Matters point out, in a normative world it would get him fired -- it was so rife with flat-out falsehoods and truly vicious distortions that Beck probably has indeed exposed Fox to a multimillion-dollar slander suit, should Soros choose to pursue it, public figure or not.
Anyone familiar with the history of anti-Semitism in America is more than familiar with the architecture of Beck's argument: Here is this conniving, conspiratorial rich international-investor JEW who is buying up all the media in American and surreptitiously seeking to destroy the American economy. The only thing new here is that Soros, an avowed atheist, has a largely secular "hidden agenda" rather than a religious one.
One of Beck's smears in particular stood out in this regard -- namely, his LaRouchite claim that Soros had participated in "confiscating" Jewish properties:
Beck: His childhood is shocking, dramatic. He grew up in Nazi Europe. Fourteen years old -- he had to help the government confiscate the lands of his fellow Jewish friends and neighbors.
He did not grow up in a strong-Jewish household. His mother was a strong anti-Semite -- George Soros' words, not mine -- 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, anybody, an adult.
Well, what did it do to George Soros? In an interview with Steve Croft, Soros was asked if he felt guilt at all about taking the property from the Jews as a teenager. He responded, no. He also said, quote, 'I don't deny the Jews their national existence. But I don't want to be a part of it.'
Beck isn't the first figure on Fox to indulge this smear: Ann Coulter has done the same. And as we explained then:
The claim that Soros was a "Nazi collaborator" originated with the LaRouche organization and has since spread to the likes of David Horowitz.
The facts: Soros was a Hungarian Jew who survived the Holocaust. From Media Matters:
Michael T. Kaufman wrote in a biography of Soros, Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire (Knopf, 2002), that Soros' father attempted to protect his family from Nazi persecution by paying an employee of Hungary's Ministry of Agriculture named Baumbach to take in Soros, "ostensibly as his godson." Soros accompanied his "godfather" as he went to oversee the confiscation of property from Hungarian Jews, as Media Matters has noted.
This is also where Coulter actually lies about Soros -- and it's an outrageous lie, too. Soros never was involved in "pointing out Jews" -- he simply accompanied his protector while he carried out his civic duties, which included confiscating property from Jews.
Here's the relevant passage from the 60 Minutes interview in question:
Kroft: You're a Hungarian Jew ...
Kroft: ... who escaped the Holocaust ...
Kroft: ... by posing as a Christian.
Kroft: And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.
Soros: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made.
Kroft: In what way?
Soros: That one should think ahead. One should understand that -- and anticipate events and when, when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a -- a very personal threat of evil.
KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.
SOROS: Yes. Yes.
KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.
SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes.
Kroft: I mean, that's -- that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
Soros: Not, not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't ... you don't see the connection. But it was -- it created no -- no problem at all.
Kroft: No feeling of guilt?
Kroft: For example, that, 'I'm Jewish, and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be these, I should be there.' None of that?
Soros: Well, of course, ... I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was -- well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in the markets -- that is I weren't there -- of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would - would -- would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the -- whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the -- I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.
That's right: The reason Soros didn't feel any guilt is that he in fact was only a spectator and bore no role or responsibility for the confiscation of Jewish property.
Soros actually deserves our respect for having survived the Holocaust -- and Glenn Beck deserves widespread condemnation for reviving the classic anti-Semitic smear about a Jewish "puppet master" conspiring to destroy and control America.
After explaining how he's not at all anti-Semitic, Beck segued directly into common anti-Semitic stereotypes about Soros being at the center of a vast web that is "collapsing our economy" and remaking our government. Elsewhere in the show, he detailed Soros' efforts to create a "media empire" and control the U.S. government. And of course, Beck's central frame for the entire program is that Soros is the "puppet master," devilishly manipulating all other players to his own ends.
Ah, but there's no bigger supporter of Israel than Glenn Beck, right? He just wants to see them blown up in a coming Armageddon.
He can't possibly be anti-Semitic, can he?