In recent weeks, Fox News' Glenn Beck has displayed an utterly shameful amount of disrespect toward Jewish people. Yesterday, Beck compared Fox News to Jews during the Holocaust, imploring journalists at other news networks to "[a]sk yourself this question: When they're done with Fox, and you decide to speak out on something. The old, 'First they came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish.'" He went on to add: "Do you really think that this man is then not going to turn on you? That you and your little organization is going to cause him any hesitation at all not to take you out?"
The comments quickly made the rounds on the progressive blogosphere and over at MSNBC. But Beck has employed the analogy on his show before. Back in June, referring to the closures of auto dealerships under the bankruptcy deals of GM and Chrysler, Beck declared:
This is fascism. This is what happens when you merge special interests, corporations, and the government. This is what happens. And if people like you don't take a stand...at some point, you know what poem keeps going through my mind is 'First they came for the Jews.' People, all of us are like, well, this news doesn't really affect me. Well, I'm not a bondholder. Well, I'm not in the banking industry. Well, I'm not a big CEO. Well, I'm not on Wall Street. Well, I'm not a car dealer. I'm not an autoworker. Gang, at some point they're going to come for you.
Both Beck's comparisons of Fox News and auto dealers to the Jews are so colossally stupid and absurd that they deserve to be dissected and mocked, but that's probably best done over cocktails at happy hour or by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show. Much more troubling is how frequently he uses Nazi analogies and how offensive they are.
In fact, Beck's use of Nazi analogies occurs so frequently -- and on such a large stage -- that Godwin's Law ought to be renamed in Beck's (dis)honor.
Among Beck's greatest Nazi hits misses:
- Comparing Obama's call for a "civilian national security force" to "what Hitler did with the SS."
- Suggesting that health care reform would lead to the sort of eugenics programs undertaken by the Nazis.
- Saying that he "fear[s] a Reichstag moment," or "another 9/11" which will "turn this machine on, and power will be seized and voices will be silenced."
- Comparing Obama's statement that he would consider "empathy" in choosing a Supreme Court nominee to Hitler's "empathetic" decision that led to a Nazi euthanasia program.
Beck apparently has no sense that drawing such analogies on a regular basis diminishes the very meaning of the Holocaust and thus the meaning of those who were victimized by it. Has it never occurred to him that his use of these analogies might offend Jews? Or does he just not give a damn?
Huff Post's Sam Stein reported on Wednesday that the use of such analogies by Beck and others has led to "growing alarm among Jewish groups and anti-defamation activists." Anti-Defamation League's Deborah Lauter told Stein that "we are seeing more of it than usual," particularly in the health care debate. "Using a Nazi analogy just to say that your adversaries position on health care is bad," Lauter said." It "demeans the experience of those who died and those who are still around. It is so offensive on so many levels."
Further evidence of Beck's insensitivity toward Jews is his (failed) attempt to encourage his listeners to set aside September 28 - Yom Kippur - as a "day of Fast and Prayer for the Republic." In a September 19 tweet, Beck wrote:
Today, I'm being ripped apart by some Jewish organization and the Huffington Post is reporting it. Is Glenn so stupid he didn't know that was the day of atonement for Jews? ... No, I just thought it would be a good idea. It could bring people together. And you know, honestly, we don't really have a day of fast and prayer in Christianity. At least my faith doesn't really have a day that you do that, so I figured if they're already doing it, we could just join them. I mean, they're already gonna be miserable on that day. We could all not eat together but do it for the republic. Atone and begin again.
And on his September 23 radio show, Beck still refused to let it go.
This man has no shame. Absolutely none.
It's hard to imagine how he could top comparing his news organization to the victims of the Holocaust and trying to co-opt Judaism's most sacred holy day and turn it into a partisan protest, but knowing Beck, he will.
In the meantime, he will continue to say what he wants about the tenets of national socialism -- at least it's an ethos.
Beck's only motivation appears to be himself.