Glenn Beck flirts with anti-Semitism; what if he were Muslim?

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck is on a rampage.  It’s been one conspiracy theory after another, often with an anti-Semitic twist. In June, Beck promoted The Red Network, a book by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Elizabeth Dilling. In September, Beck promoted another book, Secrets of the Federal Reserve, written by Eustance Mullin, described in his obituary as a “nationally known white supremacist and anti-Semite.” And lately, Beck has devoted several days of coverage to his crusade against Jewish philanthropist George Soros. Soros is no stranger to criticism, but is it right for a so-called “news anchor” to invoke the holocaust for cheap political points?

Several Jewish groups have spoken out against Mr. Beck’s pattern of anti-Semitic conspiracy mongering, such as the Jewish Funds for Justice and the Anti-Defamation League. Media outlets joined the criticism as well, like Howard Kurtz on CNNReason magazine , and Commentary magazine.

Apparently, Beck’s shenanigans have gone too far this time, prompting conservatives like David Frum to complain about the right-wing’s “closed information systems based upon pretend information.” Frum writes in the New York Times:

Every day, Beck offers alternative knowledge — an alternative history of the United States and the world, an alternative system of economics, an alternative reality. As corporate profits soar, the closed information system insists that the free-enterprise system is under assault. As prices slump, we are warned of imminent hyperinflation. As black Americans are crushed under Depression-level unemployment, the administration’s policies are condemned by some conservatives as an outburst of Kenyan racial revenge against the white overlord.

More like alternative delusions. We’ve seen how quick CNN was to fire Rick Sanchez for his off-the-cuff remarks about Jews and Jon Stewart. Such is the nature of professional news organizations who don’t want to be seen as pandering to anti-Semitism. But has Beck gone too far for Fox News?

Sadly, no. Fox stands by the nutty professor Beck. Apparently their cost-benefit analysis has concluded that Beck’s rabble-rousing anti-Semitic flirtations bring in more profit and ratings than harm to the company’s reputation. So much for “fair and balanced.”

So now I have to ask: what if Beck was Muslim? What if, for example, Fareed Zakaria of CNN had spewed anti-Semitic nonsense on national television?

Following Islamophobic doctrine, as articulated by Pam Geller and company, we’d see the anti-Muslim blogosphere fired up by the same less-than-lazy comparisons between Muslims and Nazis. Then we’d see more of the same outpour of vitriolic hate speech from the Stop the Islamization of America crowd. Fox News would continue to aid and abet the anti-Muslim counter-culture bysmearing () ordinary mainstream Muslim leaders. (Yawn). And as usual, missing from the story would be good examples of Muslims saving Jews during World War 2 out of religious conviction to love thy neighbor, or mainstream American Muslims standing alongside Jews under attack by extremists, or the myriad of interfaith initiatives that bring together Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others to promote world peace. If mentioned at all, these positive stories would be explained away as silly Muslims who don’t know that their faith equals Nazism or just more ultimate intellectual cop-outs.

What we are witnessing here is the phenomenon of selective outrage, a tribalistic notion of us-versus-the-Moozlims, my country right-or-wrong, a rejection of immutable ethical principles applied evenly to all human beings regardless of race, color, gender, or religion. Rather, we see that when one of “them” is an anti-Semite, it gets projected onto all Islam and Muslims forever, but when one of “us” is an anti-Semite, well… nothing.

Closed information systems based on pretend information, you say? Precisely.


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