The internet has once again exploded with a surge of social media posts about George Soros, with far-right activists and QAnon conspiracy theorists posting wildly imaginative claims about the billionaire philanthropist. But behind the spectacle of paranoid outrage, there is a troubling and undeniable truth about the constant attacks on George Soros:
The Hungarian-born financier, whose philanthropic organization Open Society Foundations supports freedom and democracy initiatives in over 100 countries around world, is frequently accused of being a mastermind of international conspiracies. The countless unfounded claims against the successful businessman could fill books, all without any evidence of their truth. In fact, in the overheated political environment of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, they continue to grow.
A cursory read of conservative and far-right media would have you believe that Soros and his funding is behind Antifa, Black Lives Matter, violent protests, illegal immigration, fraudulent voting schemes and a myriad of other radical conspiracy theories. And of course, his detractors fume at his funding of democratic causes and candidates in state and federal elections across the country.
For example, the most recent anti-Soros flare up appears to be centered around an article in the conservative media outlet The Free Beacon focused on activities related to Soros’s Democracy Alliance donor network that supports progressive candidates and causes, and in particular the network’s affiliated Strategic Victory Fund, a political action committee. The PAC, like similar initiatives on the conservative side of the political spectrum, seeks to influence voters through a range of educational and engagement tactics on the state level.
The fierce attacks on Soros not only come from conservative activists and media. He is frequently the target of conservative and Republican political leaders, including President Trump, who has used his Twitter account to make baseless claims against the financier. Soros has been called a Nazi by some of the President’s supporters (a claim retweeted by the President’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.) and even referred to as the “Antichrist” by Trump’s longtime advisor Rudy Giuliani.
The emergence of QAnon has also added fuel to the anti-Soros fire, with unfounded claims that Soros, as a “globalist,” is behind an international network of pedophiles and others who seek to defeat President Trump. The viral nature of QAnon, and its conspiracy minded followers are increasing misinformation, and fear, about Soros at an exponential rate.
So, if it isn’t facts that are driving the animosity towards Soros, what is it?
Anti-Semitism, plain and simple.
Soros’ critics barely hide their anti-Semitism anymore, frequently posting images of him with grossly distorted anti-Semitic features. The attacks also frequently reference, directly and indirectly, longstanding anti-Semitic theories form texts such as the Elders of Zion that claims Jews are running an international cabal. The most perverse attacks on Soros relate to fraudulent claims that he was a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer. In fact, Soros’s family escaped persecution from the Nazis, who killed over 500,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II.
What is most troubling perhaps about the attacks on Soros is that they also reflect a growing wave of anti-Semitism in America and around the world. The Anti-Defamation League has called Soros conspiracy theories “a gateway to anti-Semitism” and noted the explosion of anti-Soros sentiment in the a wake of the George Floyd protests. The report also detailed a litany of anti-Soros pundits and provocateurs who have trafficked in false claims and inflammatory rhetoric. By giving oxygen to anti-Soros theories, these pundits not only do a disservice to the truth, but they fuel anti-Semitic hate and violence that is beginning to reach worrisome levels of pervasiveness in America.
Without question, there is a place for disagreement with any one individual’s politics, and Soros should not be immune to criticism. But the animosity against Soros goes far beyond criticism of any other billionaire funder of political efforts, and perhaps beyond all of them put together. The truth is there is only one sordid reason for why attacks on George Soros are constantly trending, and it is not because of his money or his politics.
It is because he is Jewish.