What’s with the Pipe, Glenn?

George SorosA few days ago, Glenn Beck accused George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, of turning in Jews to the Nazis. Now some people want his head, calling him an antisemite. I don’t agree. His head is worth nothing. Beck’s history lesson shows exactly why.

Beck doesn’t like Soros. Soros is one of the world’s biggest donors to liberal causes, and he has lots to give. He reportedly made $1 billion in an English currency crisis, by correctly predicting that the pound sterling would be devalued. The organization that Soros created and leads, the Open Society Institute, promotes democratic ideals and liberal practices in countries with authoritarian governments. Beck hates the causes that Soros funds.

But that’s all irrelevant to what happened to Soros in 1944 when the Nazis occupied Hungary. He was a Jewish teenager trying to avoid being sent to Auschwitz, where over half a million Hungarian Jews were murdered that year. To survive, Soros had to do some unpleasant things. He once told a journalist that he and other kids were called to the Jewish Council, a group of Jewish leaders forced to transmit the Nazis’ orders to their fellow Jews. The kids were given slips of paper to deliver to Jews in town. When he went home and showed them to his father, he found out they were notices of deportation. His father sent him back out to tell the recipients not to go. Soros was 13 years old.

When he was 14, he took on a Christian identity and found protection in the home of a sympathetic Hungarian bureaucrat. Once, when that man was sent to inventory the property of a Jewish family who had already fled the country, he took young Soros with him for 3 days, rather than leave him alone in Budapest.

Like most Holocaust survivors, Soros has not talked much about his narrow escape from death. His writings are all about his current political interests. So we don’t know much more than what I wrote above. But Glenn Beck claims he knows a lot more. Beck said Soros “used to go around with this anti-Semite and deliver papers to the Jews and confiscate their property and then ship them off. . . . It was frightening. Here’s a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.”

Beck’s comments about Soros are a perfect window into his mind. More than other conservative media personalities, Beck uses historical information to prop up his political ideas. In his attempt to play the TV historian, he appears in disguise, dressing up as one of the academics he constantly mocks. Decked out in a tweed blazer, writing on a chalkboard, a pipe in his mouth, he tells his viewers stories about World War II, Franklin Roosevelt and the writers of the Constitution. And about Adolf Hitler — Beck constantly brings up Hitler and the Nazis.

Real historians try to create a story that could explain as much evidence as they can find. Like everyone else, we bring our own prejudices and assumptions, interests and experiences to this task. About historical eruptions like the Holocaust, every historian and every survivor creates a personal narrative.

No historian would transform the evidence into the nasty claims about Soros, and the Baumbach family who saved him, that Beck broadcast to his 2.6 million FOX News viewers. Beck is not a historian at all. He doesn’t hate us for our “elitism”; his suits cost more than my yearly salary. He worries that we will expose his act.

His antisemitism isn’t the main issue. Our American problem is that Beck the entertainer pretends to be teaching history. Beck’s TV lectures have the same truth value as Jerry Seinfeld’s jokes or Tina Fey’s impersonations.

Steve HochstadtMaybe less value, because Seinfeld and Fey are honest about what they are doing. Beck isn’t — perhaps he is deluding himself, too, as most successful con men do. FOX News presents him with a straight face. But we are supposed to laugh, not believe.

I won’t be watching, though. I don’t get Beck’s sense of humor. I can’t laugh when I hear someone call Katrina victims “scumbags”, and I never liked Holocaust jokes.

Steve Hochstadt

Steve Hochstadt is professor of history at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, and author of Sources of the H


  1. says

    My, my. So many words, only to say that it really irks you that Glenn Beck is outing Soros and all his Left-wing, Looney Toon groups!

    Wasn’t it great, back in the day, when the only ‘news’ available was the alphabet networks and big print magazine and newspaper ‘news’ media who churned out Left-sympathizing stories and progressive/Humanist preaching?

    Don’t you long for those days when anything other than liberal-approved pap was censored out of Americans’ reach?

    Squirm, my friend!


    • says

      Dear Mr. Larimer,

      I don’t know when your “back in the day” was, but I’m old enough to have been reading the papers when they virtually all endorsed Republicans and demonized anyone left of center. It doesn’t irk me that Beck is “outing” Soros, because I don’t care about Soros. I care about history and the Holocaust and truth. That’s why it irks me that Beck cares so little about any of them, as I described in the essay whose content you don’t discuss at all. Your fantasies about censorship seem to make it difficult for you to get the sense of what you are reading.
      Steve Hochstadt

  2. Elaine says

    When did Beck call Katrina victims scumbags? When did you ever hear him tell a Holocaust joke? You are just like that David Love. You write a bunch of lies and those that don’t watch Beck do not know better and think you are speaking the truth. People like you are a dime a dozen spewing lies and crazy remarks about people you do not really know or watch or read. Then you say something about the cost of his suit?!? So he worked hard and educated himself on a lot of things and was able to make enough money to make sure he can take care of his children and wife. We live in the greatest Nation on earth where the American Dream is suppose to be something to look forward to. Now we have a lot of people trying to take that away from us, turn us into a one size fits all government that tells us how to walk, talk, look and act. Spread the wealth. Give to people that don’t want to work and live off the government. They do not want you to give to charities of your choice but give the money to them so they can pocket half of it and spread the rest around to their buddies. In other words Obama and his buddies like George Soros want to be the Masters of the Plantation and turn all of us into the slaves. Have you looked at those you are fighting for or do you just believe what people tell you? I know you lie.

    • says

      Dear Elaine,

      Instead of calling me a liar, why not just take 5 seconds and search on Google under “Beck Katrina scumbags”? Instead of getting nasty and being wrong, that might enable us to actually discuss the issues I brought up. In order for that to happen, you would have to read my essay for what it says and not how it scares you. I brought up his suit because he constantly attacks professors as being part of the elite. My comment about Holocaust jokes continued my presentation of Beck as an entertainer who appears obsessed with Holocaust but doesn’t tell the truth about Soros and the Holocaust. There is not one fact in any of my essays that is not true. I also sometimes offer my opinions about what I write. If you take more time with my essays and stop assuming that the world is coming to an end and that I am partly responsible, we both might learn something.
      Steve Hochstadt

  3. Indepdent_thinker says

    Beck is right to sound the alarm bell when it comes to Soros. His past is very checkered and he does have an agenda – power and wealth for himself and servitude of all others. He is not a democrat or a socialist but posing as such to futher his ends. beware.

  4. says

    “Mordechai” calls me a liar because he can’t stand the truth. Soros is not a Holocaust denier and he never said he collaborated with the Nazis. That’s what Beck said, and the whole point of my article is that there is no evidence for that.

    My purpose in writing that article was not to defend Soros. He has enough resources to defend himself. I don’t fully agree with “Joshua” that a very rich man can’t be a good person or that Soros is a liberal only to make more money. I think those beliefs are also mainly assumptions, without evidence about Soros himself. But my interest was to show that Beck is not a historian: he says what fits his own interests and he doesn’t care about facts, if they don’t fit his message.

    The claim that Soros is an antisemite comes from people who believe that any criticism of Israel means antisemitism. If that were true a substantial number of Israelis would also be antisemites, as well as a majority of American Jews. I don’t agree with Soros on Israel, I don’t agree with Israeli policy about Palestinians or the settlements, and I don’t throw around charges of antisemitism against anyone whose ideas I don’t like.

  5. Joshua says

    Yes Beck is a little crazed, and a little more than obsessed with George Soros. Beck is Beck, he’s not the devil. Sometimes he realy does do an insightful show.. example.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inoWGGeqdmo .. But I willingly concede Beck is not a place to get “NEWS”.

    One one level I do feel a pang of sorrow for Soros’ horrible life BUT on another level I know that no one becomes a billionaire being a good and decent person. You cannot be “Fair” and accumulate that much wealth.You want to talk about the disgustingly wealthy hurting our Democracy…Billionaires buying our politicians, well Soros is ONE of those guys.

    Soros supports librel causes because he sees a way to make more money and accumulate more power for himself. He is NOT your friend or a “fellow traveler” of progressivism, he has an angle. A Progressive (or a socialist or a communist)cannot be a billionaire or a millionaire, they are anathema to one another by their very definition.

    I can understand you wanting to defend someone against Beck’s more outlandish charges, But George Soros doesn’t deserve your defence.He deserves our sympathy for a traumatic childhood and our suspicions for his present activities.

  6. Mordechai says

    Liar. Soros is a Holocaust Denier who admitted in at least two televised interviews that he collaborated with the nazis. You need to read Prager and Telushkin’s book, “Why the Jews?” Then you will understand the Antisemitism of George Soros.

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