How 400 Left-Wing, Liberal ‘Rabbis’ Are Wrong About Glenn Beck


glen-beckBy Wendy Kaminer

“400 rabbis can’t be wrong,” Media Matters declares, praising their demand that Murdoch sanction Glenn Beck for his anti-Semitic rants. I doubt that any random collection of 400 Jews would share this view of rabbinical infallibility, and, in any case, these rabbis are wrong — not morally but politically — to join an apparent effort to force Beck off the air.

I’m not criticizing the ‘rabbis,’ or any Jewish advocacy groups, for criticizing Beck. I’m not denying their right to call for his punishment or even dismissal; I’m questioning the wisdom of doing so. My unsolicited advice is: Expose and challenge the anti-Semitic ravings of Beck and others, but stop short of trying to silence them. Rabbis and liberal Jews are not exactly Beck’s target audience, which means that Murdoch probably doesn’t care what they think of him or any Fox performers that appeal to anti-Semitic, biblical Zionists on the right. Liberal or Jewish demands to punish Beck probably fire up his fans, increasing their loyalty to him (and his value to Murdoch), as liberal attacks on Sarah Palin help fuel her political ascent.

Besides, publicly calling for Beck’s punishment helps him play the victim of an alleged anti-libertarian, liberal assault on speech. It changes the subject: What should be a discussion of anti-Semitism becomes a debate about free speech, and not a particularly enlightening one.

Free speech advocates tend to oppose consumer boycotts of corporate speech, and Beck is a corporate instrument, if not spokesman. But consumers constitute the market that elevates some cable stars (among other celebrities) and effectively silences others. Whomever the market makes, the market may break. Successfully opposing a high paid talker and persuading his employers to take him off the air is not necessarily any more or less censorious than successfully supporting him and deterring his employers from hiring — and giving voice — to a replacement.

I’m not minimizing the problem of marketplace censorship (which has shaped my own freelance career). Instead, I mean to underscore it and highlight its complexities. As I’ve written previously, everyday, media executives engage in content-based discrimination against speech, with every right. They’re in the business of discriminating, deciding what and what not to publish or air. Media conglomerates base these decisions on the bottom line, promoting profitable speech (like Glenn Beck’s rants). Money losing opinion journals, dependent on foundations or deep-pocketed publishers, discriminate against speech on ideological grounds. But whether they’re interested in profits or politics, editors and executives who decide what we will read, hear and see generally aim to please their audiences, and advertisers. Beck will keep his job if he continues to be an asset; he’ll lose it if he becomes a liability (economically or politically). What else is new?

But while demands for corporate sanctions of hateful, dishonest, or unhinged talkers don’t threaten to shackle political discourse, neither do they promise to elevate it. The left (what’s left of it) won’t increase its audience share by playing defense, trying to shame or silence talkers on the right, anymore than protesters gathered outside the latest Koch sponsored conference will mitigate the political influence of Koch sponsored political groups. (Efforts to cut funding for these groups through campaign finance reforms is another counter-productive defensive play that, unlike consumer boycotts, does indeed seriously threaten free speech.)

These are hardly new insights. For years, liberals have been bemoaning the absence of a media empire to rival Fox News and right wing talk radio, which is why so many cheered the emergence of MSNBC, and why the often insufferably egotistical Keith Olbermann was regarded by some as a savior. For years, liberals have been discussing the need to establish a left-leaning political infrastructure of think tanks and advocacy groups as well. Still, liberals often assume the defensive crouch, not just criticizing wing ranters and ravers, but asking a corporate authority to rule them out of order, just as they oppose right-wing advocacy groups by demanding that state authorities cut off their funds.

So in demanding sanctions for Beck, the 400 rabbis are reading from a familiar script (which, I guess, is what rabbis are trained to do). But — and I say this as a non-believer — praying for Beck’s enlightenment might be a lot more effective than calling for his punishment. “Just ignore her; she’s only trying to aggravate you,” my mother advised my high school principal when I declined to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Don’t ignore Beck’s anti-Semitism; challenge, or better yet, make fun of it — mockery is often more effective than outrage — but don’t let him aggravate you.

{The Atlantic/}


  1. I am sure that there were 400 Reform Rabbits in 1938 that absolutely adored Joseph Stalin, YMSVZ. Rabbits are not the smartest political animals. This case is more proof.

  2. Mr Author,
    Do you recall what happened when the Jews picked up on Helen Thomas’s anti semitism? Just asking. Helen Thomas is now history. Please don’t tell me Jews can’t make a difference.
    JEWS constitute about a quarter of the Supreme Court.
    The second highest Republican, the house majority leader, Eric Cantor is JEWISH.
    Rated one of the most popular senators, Chuck Schumer is JEWISH.
    Obama’s aide, his former COS, and federal Reserve Chairman are all JEWISH.

    Don’t tell me Americans don’t care about what these silly Jews have to say. Glenn Beck will care if the Jews will speak (definitely the staunch conservative, Eric Cantor).

    We should all stand up against anti-semitism. We cannot prevent another holocaust, but we must do our best so with God’s help it will never happen again.

  3. Can anyone point to any objective proof of Beck saying something anti-semitic? Aside from his statement that Jews had some responsibility in killing Yeshu?

  4. These Reform, Conservative, etc. osvorfs do not practice Judaism. Some of them may have been born Jewish of a Jewish mother and some not. These deviants have Toayvah and women who they refer to as “Rabbis”. Many of the 400 on this list are not Jewish. The Reform and Conservative leaders lie to their followers. They tell them that the Torah was written by men or by many different men possibly at different times. Their G-d is “Social Action” and in some cases “Socialism”. When confronted on their practices today many of these deviants will say “Hitler didn’t differentiate between Jews. He took them all.” Their “Standard” is Hitler not Torah!

    We have to be kind and understanding to all Jews who are being led astray and are being fooled by these liars. Most of their followers were born to a Jewish mother and these Jews should be invited to our homes for Shabbos and approached in other ways to show them the ways of the Torah and introduce them to Judaism.

  5. these 400 rabbis never even watched the glenn beck shows on soros. they are being used by the nazi collaborator soros to stop the truth about soros’ evil coming to light. read “the shadow party” – he 60 minute show transcript where soros admits ever so proudly to help confiscate jewish property is in there in black and white. instead of doing knee jerk politics for soros, these 400 idiots should educate themselves about the nazi collborator they are defending. G-d bless Glenn Beck for exposing this evil man. Soros does not consider himself as part of the jewish people. he and his entire family converted to catholocism long ago and he has nothing but contempt for jews.

  6. Mo Finch, In Germnay Jews held very prominent political positions and were very influential in their culture and the arts. Look where it got them. We are in galus and are supposed to keep a low profile. By bragging that Jews have high positions, maybe comforting to you but extremely worrying to me.

  7. When will we ever learn? The Nazis y’sh were not lefty liberals. They were ultra-right wing all the way. The right wing aren’t our friends. Beck is just dumb enough to say so out loud.

    We back the right wing and this is what we get. Why should Murdoch punish Beck when he thinks the same way himseelf?

    The only friend we have is the One Above.