Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Radio host Glenn Beck has come under heavy criticism for citing a book on the air last week written by an anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizer named Elizabeth Dilling.
Simon Maloy of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media critique site that frequently targets talk radio hosts, is among the most persistent voices condemning Beck’s “promotion” of Dilling’s 1934 book “The Red Network.”
Maloy blasted Beck for offering “neither an apology nor a disavowal nor any indication whatsoever that he was at all contrite over using his considerable media presence to promote a discredited and hateful woman’s writings.”
Beck, however, has argued that he was unaware of the author’s Nazi leanings and that his discussion of her book does not mean he echoes her anti-Semitic views.
On his Friday show last week, Beck was raving about the historical perspective he gained from old and out-of-print books that readers had sent him, including, for example, a history of America originally printed in 1801.
But after Beck also highlighted “The Red Network,” which RareNonfiction.com describes as a who’s who of radical communism, listing approximately 1,300 names and organizations actively promoting extreme leftist ideology, Media Matters launched its criticism.
Dilling tied her warnings against communism to Jewish plot conspiracies, spouted anti-Semitic rants and praised Hitler’s work in Germany before World War II. After Pearl Harbor, Dilling was an anti-war activist and spoke at rallies organized by U.S. Nazis, leading to her indictment and trial for sedition in 1944.
When Beck first mentioned the book on his program, he was specifically citing Dilling’s research into communist infiltration in the U.S. as evidence that 1950s anti-communist crusader Joseph McCarthy, in Beck’s words, “was absolutely right.”
“McCarthy was absolutely right. Now he may have used bad tactics or whatever, but he was absolutely right,” Beck said on his program.
Then, speaking of “The Red Network,” Beck added, “This is a book – and I’m a getting a ton of these – from people who were doing what we’re doing now. We now are documenting who all of these [communists] are. Well, there were Americans in the first 50 years of this nation that took this seriously, and they documented it.
“And this is from 1936, and in it, it talks about – it’s the who’s who and handbook for radicalism for patriots, this is, ‘Who were the communists in America?’” Beck said. “The overwhelming number of communists? Labor unions.
“The other thing they talked about in this book that I was reading last night,” Beck continued, “they said, ‘There’s this teacher’s union thing. But you really want to know who the real radical communists are? The [National Education Association].’ That’s 1936, and they’re talking about this new organization that is really nasty, that you really have to look out for, the NEA. But everything this book has talked about, they have mainstreamed.”
Over the weekend, not only Media Matters, but also several e-mailers joined in criticizing Beck’s use of Dilling’s book. Beck issued a clarification on today’s program:
“I’m also getting some amazing mail from the left that now says I’m a Nazi anti-Semite because I quoted a book on Friday,” Beck said on the air today. “It was a who’s who, who’s in the Communist Party in 1935, apparently written by a Nazi sympathizer here in America, part of the, I’m sure – I don’t know because I didn’t look it up – but I’m sure part of the Father Coughlin, social justice crowd, because this is the choice that progressives give you – you’re either a Nazi or a communist. No, I’m neither.
“But now I’m kind of stuck between the place where the left says that I’m a Nazi sympathizer and a Jew lover. So I guess the left can have it all, that I’m a Jew-loving Nazi sympathizer. It’s a really interesting place that I don’t know if anybody’s ever been,” Beck scoffed.
Though Beck’s monologue suggested he was unaware of Dilling’s Nazi ties and wasn’t promoting her ideology, Maloy isn’t satisfied with the explanation.
“Glenn Beck should explain why he didn’t look a little deeper into Mrs. Dilling’s peculiar and abhorrent worldview before promoting her works on the air,” Maloy writes.