Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Why Glenn Beck sounds like an anti-Semite (but isn't)

In response to a post by Arthur Goldwag noting how structurally and rhetorically similiar Glenn Beck's conspiracy theories are to classic anti-Semitism, I commented

“I don’t know if Glenn Beck is an anti-Semite or not”

I don’t think he is; he just thinks about “progressives” the way anti-Semites think about “Jews” and the lineage of ideas he has been influenced by come from a tradition of anti-Semitic conspiracism. It’s kind of like a vestigial anti-Semitism: it’s not his intent, but just kind of a vestige of the ideology he has absorbed and co-opted.
Take for instance who he was targeting last week: Louis Brandeis for being in the Wilson administration and dying “wealthy.” Perfect, Beck has once again managed to target someone who anti-Semites demonize. Beck didn’t do it for anti-Semitic reasons, but for anti-progressive reasons.
Chip Berlet also noted that Beck's attack on Brandeis sounded like anti-Semitism.

As Media Matters for America observed, apparently the most significant aspect of the story for Beck was that the university was named after the late Jewish scholar and Supreme Court justice, Louis D. Brandeis. For Beck, wrote a Media Matters researcher, the "Brandeis University symposium on political extremism is suspect because Louis Brandeis was in [Woodrow] Wilson's cabinet;" the quip accompanies a link to that portion of Beck's tirade which skirted on the thin ice of classic antisemitic conspiracy claims about manipulation of politics by powerful elite Jews.
But the thing is that Brandeis being Jewish likely never entered his mind. What did enter his mind was that he was a "progressive."

Like I've been saying: Beck thinks about "progressives" the way anti-Semites think about "Jews". Both equate the preferred scapegoat with controlling the media, being Bolsheviks, an enemy of Christianity, and an internal threat to the nation.

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