Glenn Beck's Jewish Problem

By Jeffrey Goldberg

It's become clear to me that the Fox commentator Glenn Beck has something of a Jewish problem. Actually, he has something of a modernity problem, and people with modernity problems tend to have problems with Jews, who more or less invented modernity (Einstein, Marx, Freud, Franz Boas, etc.)

This is not, by the way, a post about Beck's singular obsession with George Soros (read Michelle Goldberg -- not a relative, except in an all-Jews-are-conspiring-against-Glenn-Beck sort of way -- on this subject). This is a post about Beck's recent naming of nine people -- eight of them Jews -- as enemies of America and humanity. He calls these people prime contributors to the -- wait for it -- "era of the big lie." The eight Jews are Sigmund Freud; Edward Bernays, the founder of public relations, and a nephew of Freud's (which Beck discloses as if this had previously been a secret); Soros, of course; Cass Sunstein, now of the White House; the former labor leader Andy Stern; Walter Lippman, who is no longer here to defend himself; Frances Fox Piven, who Beck believes is "sowing the seeds" of revolution; and, of all people, Edward Rendell.

It is fair to ask if Beck knows that these people are Jewish (It is not widely-known that Rendell is Jewish, I think). But Beck is a smart person, and has researchers at hand with access to Wikipedia. Further, most of these people on Beck's "big lie" list are already the targets of straightforward attacks in the dark, anti-Semitic corners of the Web, so an extended Google search, in some cases, would show that much of the opposition to some of these people is motivated by anti-Semitism. That said, Beck has not crossed a certain line, by identifying his targets openly as Jewish. Nevertheless, this, to me, is a classic case of anti-Semitic dog-whistling. Beck is speaking to a certain constituency, and the thought has now crossed my mind that this constituency understands the clear implications of what Beck is saying.

My modest suggestion to those Jews who fear the building of mosques in American cities is that they look elsewhere for threats that seem to be gathering against them.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/glenn-becks-jewish-problem/69682/