Mar 14, 2014
Internet Lies Meet the Armed and Unhinged
Posted on Jan 10, 2011
By Barry Lando
Liberals instinctively rose to defend Julian Assange’s right to publish hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents on WikiLeaks. Freedom of the press, the public’s right to know, trumps all.
But the Internet is also threatening our liberal democracy, as the flood of Op-Ed comments generated by the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords makes clear: Any frenzied zealot has a forum to spew the most incendiary lies to millions around the globe. The extremists are abetted, of course, by rabid TV broadcasters whose ratings are directly related to their gall.
This in a country already roiled by political passions, a nation where semiautomatic pistols can be obtained by near-lunatics, including those who believe that their mission is to save the United States or mankind from the forces of darkness.
For instance, the same day the congresswoman was shot, a friend in Vancouver, Canada, relayed a blog to me vilifying financier George Soros in the most violent terms.
On the face of it, the charges were outrageous, but the author of the blog attributed the statements to “four months of research” by Steve Kroft of television’s “60 Minutes.”
That attribution was the reason my friend, a very educated, sophisticated woman, had not simply deleted it. After all, Steve Kroft. “Sixty Minutes.”
“Is this true?” she wanted to know.
Google showed me that these charges had been ricocheting around the Internet for more than 10 years. This despite the fact that Soros’ lawyers in several jurisdictions had obtained public apologies from editorialists in the U.S. and Canada who had repeated the lies.
What about the attribution to Steve Kroft and “60 Minutes”?
In fact, none of those wild-eyed charges were actually reported by Kroft in his 1998 “60 Minutes” profile of Soros.
The only unattractive fact from the report that came close to anything in the blog was the explanation that Soros was born Jewish and, when the Nazis took over Hungary in 1944, Soros’ father bribed a government official to “adopt” the young Soros as his godson.
As thousands of Jews were being deported to the death camps, the official protected Soros, occasionally taking him on official rounds, once while confiscating the property of a large Jewish landowner who had fled the country. Kroft asked Soros how he felt about that situation.
In America Soros has poured billions of dollars into liberal causes, from the Democratic Party to legalizing marijuana, making him a prime target of the right. Right-wingers have had no hesitation in transforming a frightened, 14-year-old Soros into “Hitler’s henchman.”
Take, for instance, Anne Coulter on the March 26, 2009, episode of Fox News’ “Hannity”:
“I don’t think George Soros’ name should come out without pointing out that this is not the first crisis he’s done well in. He collaborated with the Nazis in Hungary, as he admitted, so he did well under the Nazis.”
But that’s just for starters. A March 10, 2009, Human Events Online column:
“Soros is a behind-the-scenes despot. He is an evil man who has used his wealth to further all the causes the Democrat Party holds dear. He was also a Nazi collaborator. ”
Or a March 11, 2009, Investor’s Business Daily editorial:
“His ultimate goal is to create a global socialist collective where we hand over our money and/or freedom and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ ”
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