Thursday, November 26, 2009
The Bnai Brith Anti Defamation League has a history that initially inspires trust. It was founded in 1913 in the aftermath of the lynching of Leo Frank by a Jew hating mob after a questionable conviction for the murder of a 13 year old girl in his factory.
Since then, it has championed clear cut cases of religious, racial and ethnic bigotry. It keeps information on hate groups that is useful to those who combat them, both legally and informationally. What is wrong with this rosy picture?
Glenn Beck is a conservative radio and television talk show host. He is impassioned in his conservative views, painting a bleak picture of America's economic future. He has been outspoken in his opposition to the Obama presidency. He is almost equally critical of Republicans who he feels betray sound conservative, libertarian and traditional values. The ADL has taken him on.
The ADL report notes as follows about Glenn Beck.
"Beck and his guests have made a habit of demonizing President Obama and promoting conspiracy theories about his administration," the report states. "Beck has even gone so far as to make comparisons between Hitler and Obama and to promote the idea that the president is dangerous."
In March, for example, Beck promoted a right-wing conspiracy theory that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is building concentration camps to house "dissidents."
The United States is "headed towards socialism, totalitarianism beyond your wildest imagination," he said.
Beck later backed away from the FEMA camp theory, but, according to the report, his constantly saying "I fear for my country" breeds hostility towards the government."
There are those who tend towards conspiratorial views of history, and those who believe in economic forces shaping history. conspiracy theories can revolve around an ethnic group and degenerate into hatred of that group. But Glenn Beck has stayed far away from blaming any ethnic group. He talks a lot about economics. He may even talk about political cliques. But this is nowhere close to inciting ethnic hatred.
The ADL criticises Beck for comparing certain policies of the Nazis to those of the Obama administration. The Final Solution was a part of Nazi policy that was years in preparation. Examining Nazi policies on gun control and economics should not be off limits. The idea that freedom is lost in increments until such losses reach critical mass is perfectly acceptable. The ADL has distorted Glenn Beck's comparison of modern leftists to the Nazis of the 1930's. History can not be kept in a hermetically sealed plastic cube on a pedestal. It is perfectly legitimate to examine the present in light of the past. You can disagree with Glenn Beck. You may even think he is extremist. But his views do not make him worthy of scrutiny on grounds of bigotry.
The ADL has staked out a section of the political spectrum by taking on Glenn Beck. Those who are competent to do so can and should debate his political and economic ideas. But the ADL should be concerned with exposing and combating bigotry. It has muddied the waters in taking on Glenn Beck. This could damage its credibility in the future when its voice and prestige is called for. And that would be a shame. Sphere: Related Content