Just when we thought that we had heard all the offensive, Nazi-related comments that could possibly be uttered, we are proven wrong with a vengeance.
First we had Newt Gingrich's absurd pronouncement that the Obama administration's policies represent "as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did." Then Helen Thomas went into her rant about how the Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany, where Nazi Germany murdered millions of Jews. And now Tea Party movement hero and Fox News host Glenn Beck promotes a vicious anti-Semite and Nazi fellow traveler on his radio show.
At least Helen Thomas had the good sense to resign as a Hearst columnist. Beck, on the other hand, is utterly unapologetic, secure in the knowledge that his reactionary audiences applaud his hate mongering.
On his June 4 radio program, Beck sang the praises of Elizabeth Dilling's 1936 book, The Red Network: A "Who's Who" and Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots, in which she declared that "the problem of the large number of revolutionary Russian Jews in Germany doubtless contributed toward making Fascist Germany anti-Semitic." "Naziism [sic]," Dilling wrote in the screed Beck is now heralding, "has directed its attacks more against conspiring, revolutionary Communist Jews, than against nationalist German Jews who aided Germany during the war."
Dilling's book, Beck told his audience, was "from people who were doing what we're doing now." Ok, at least we now know what Beck purports to be doing.
Dilling, it should be noted, was an admirer of Adolf Hitler who appeared at rallies organized by the German-American Bund, the largest Nazi group in the United States. As Eric Hananoki observed on Media Matters for America, she has become a cult hero for White Supremacists like Women for Aryan Unity and Stormfront.org "who revere her 'fearless' work against Jewish people."
Elsewhere, Dilling wrote that "Talmudic Judaism is the progenitor of modern Communism and Marxist collectivism as it is now applied to a billion or more of the world's population;" she called President Eisenhower "Ike the kike;" and she dismissed President Kennedy's legislative agenda as the "Jew Frontier."
Beck is not alone in praising the works of Elizabeth Dilling. Remember David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who served briefly as a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, received over 43% in his 1990 race for the U.S. Senate seat from Louisiana, and ran for the 1992 Republican presidential nomination? Dilling's book, The Plot Against Christianity, is prominently featured on Duke's web site, including her assertions that the Bolshevik Revolution was "heavily financed by outside Jewish financial and banking houses," and that "This Jewish control still exists, despite propaganda to the contrary, designed to delude and deceive non-Jews."
According to Amazon.com, "customers who bought" The Plot Against Christianity also bought such classics as Martin Luther's The Jews and Their Lies and The Synagogue of Satan. One Amazon.com customer praised the Dilling book as "one of the best books I have ever read. This book exposes the fundamental teachings of modern day Jewry... the very Jewry that our Lord and Savior fought against."
This is the paragon whose writings Beck holds up to his listeners as required reading.
But then again, Beck announced on Fox & Friends last year that President Obama had "a deep-seated hatred for white people;" told his listeners on August 12, 2009 that while he was "not comparing" President Obama to Adolf Hitler, "please read Mein Kampf;" and two weeks later denounced the president's plan to expand the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps as "what Hitler did with the SS."
The real problem is that Beck, like Rush Limbaugh, has become a Republican and conservative icon. Earlier this year, he gave the key note address at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He also appeared together with Representative Michele Bachmann (R.-MN) at the annual conference of the Constitutional Coalition, and addressed the recent national convention of the National Rifle Association.
When the conservative establishment, including much of the Republican Party leadership, bestows a mantle of credibility on someone like Beck, it means that his words have their tacit endorsement. When they do not disavow Beck's promotion of an anti-Semitic pamphleteer, they give his national audience the green light to identify with and espouse Dilling's toxic views.
The time has come for prominent Republicans such as Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, Representative John Boehner, McConnell's counterpart in the House of Representatives, and Representative Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip in the House, to be forced to publicly address Beck's irresponsible promotion of Elizabeth Dilling's book.
While we're at it, we are entitled to know whether other conservative political commentators like former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and William Kristol are prepared to distance themselves from Beck's offensive rhetoric.
As a nation, we simply cannot afford a resurgence in the American body politic of the xenophobic, racist, anti-Semitic sentiments once espoused by Father Charles Coughlin and his ilk. And we cannot allow Glenn Beck to get away with fanning the fires of intolerance to boost his ratings or to curry favor with his Tea Party crowd.
Menachem Rosensaft is Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell Law School and Vice President of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants