In a November 24 blog post, The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg took a hammer to Glenn Beck's continued effort to demonize Aryeh Neier, the president of George Soros' Open Society Institute, exposing Beck's nonsensical conspiracy that Soros is really trying to destabilize American democracy (and take over the world). Hertzberg completely upends Beck's portrayal of Neier as a "radical, violent, subversive, rage-maddened, [and] riot-inciting" individual, pointing out facts that Beck rarely, if ever, bothers himself with.
For days, as Hertzberg notes, we were treated to an anti-Soros-themed "sideshow" in which Neier, who helped found Human Rights Watch and served as the national executive director of the ACLU, was described as "the founder of the violent activist group SDS," Students for a Democratic Society. Beck would go on to connect SDS with the "Days of Rage riots" and the Weather Underground and call their activities "subversive." But as we've noted, in his 2003 autobiography, Neier writes that he had "little influence" on SDS and opposed its direction because he was "anti-Soviet and anti-Communist."
In sum, (a) Neier was not the founder of SDS, merely its re-namer; and, more important, (b) he parted company with it because, in his view, it had become insufficiently anti-Soviet and anti-Communist. ("I disapproved of SDS's leftism," he adds in "Taking Liberties.")
As we further stated, as of 1962, SDS opposed violence, as the group's Port Huron statement says. Hertzberg notes that the Port Huron statement reads: "As democrats we are in basic opposition to the communist system." He concludes:
Remember: This is the SDS that Neier broke with -- the naïve, romantic, painfully earnest SDS of "participatory democracy," whose slogan as late as the 1964 election was "Part of the way with LBJ." The SDS of "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh! NLF is gonna win!" and "Long Live the Victory of the People's War!" and "Off the pig!" was still many years in the future. Neier was long gone by the time SDS went crazy, morphed into the Weather Underground, and started staging idiotic stunts like the Days of Rage (smashing store windows in the Chicago Loop) and committing acts of petty terrorism (such as setting off a homemade bomb in a Pentagon men's room).
Neier was the very opposite of what Beck says he was. But, given that Beck's basic thesis is that George Soros's heroic (and successful) efforts to undermine Communist dictatorships prove that he is trying to undermine American democracy, we should not be too surprised. The only question is whether Beck is a liar, an ignoramus, or a charlatan. I'm voting for all three.
Hertzberg previously criticized Beck for citing a New Yorker piece while trying to portray Soros as an anti-Semite.