As a migrant caravan of some 4000 Central American asylum seekers wends its way northward to the US/Mexico border, Republican candidates in next week’s 2018 midterm elections are increasingly pinning the blame on multi-billionaire financier George Soros.
Republican politicians and internet conspiracy pundits are accusing the wealthy progressive — who has funded many failed Democratic political campaigns including one in 2004 to defeat GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush and one in 2016 to elect Hillary Clinton US president — of providing financial resources to the Central American migrant caravan, stoking immigration fears among US voters.
According to a new Financial Times report, however, accusations of Soros quietly funding migrant movements that GOP candidates and conservative media outlets claim will flood the nation with undocumented immigrants is false.
Even the US president, when asked this week whether he thought that Soros was paying for the migrant’s northward march, said: “I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes,” cited by Haaretz.
Soros has continually refuted a connection with the so-called migrant caravan, according to Ft.com.
But the force with which the GOP and supportive right-wing conservative media outlets have pressed forward with false narratives has seen fringe conspiracy theories — including those against Soros — go mainstream, according to the Financial Times.
Much of Soros’s newfound global notoriety is a result of accusations made in 2015 by the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, as millions of refugees fled war-torn areas of northern Africa and the Middle East attempting to traverse central Europe on their way to wealthy EU nations.
“[George Soros] is perhaps the strongest example of those who support anything that weakens nation states,” Orban declared at the time, cited by Rt.com.
Blaming the Budapest-born Soros was seen as a natural fit for the increasingly nationalistic views of Orban in the face of a wide-ranging migrant crisis, according to Ft.com.
“These activists who support immigrants inadvertently become part of this international human-smuggling network,” Orban claimed at the time, cited by Bloomberg.com.
Soros conspiracy theories, long lingering on the fringes of society, have only recently gone mainstream thanks in part to the Trump administration, many GOP midterm candidates and a willing conservative press, according to the Financial Times.
“We have seen the borders of what is acceptable move to the center,” noted Laura Silber, a spokeswoman for the financier’s Open Society Foundation, pointing out a 2017 campaign in Budapest to print the face of Soros — a Holocaust survivor — on the floors of public trams so that commuters could step on his face.
But while the Trump administration has provided some support to Soros’ projects in Hungary — including a university in Budapest — the president’s off-the-cuff remarks continue to demonize the hedge fund manager, according to the Irish Times.
Republican attacks on Soros in the face of the upcoming 2018 midterm elections are now well-established, according to multiple reports.
Campaign ads aired toward the end of Trump’s surprising 2016 presidential campaign win accused Soros, alongside Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and then-US Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen — who, like Soros, are Jewish — suggested that “the levers of power in Washington” were at the hands of unaccountable Wall Street moguls, according to Financial Times.
Soros, noting the cultural shift against him, set about to clear the air, according to Nytimes.com.
“I have become a bit more concerned about my image,” he stated in a New York Times Magazine article earlier in 2018, adding, “it is disturbing to have those lies out there.”
US GOP midterm campaigning has nonetheless continued to paint Soros as a villain, including a Minnesota ad placed by the National Republican Congressional Committee showing Soros grinning alongside piles of cash while a narrator darkly intones that “Billionaire George Soros bankrolls the resistance,” cited by Motherjones.com.
In Florida, Republican congressman Matt Gaetz falsely claimed in a tweet that Soros had bankrolled the Central American migrant caravan, and his accusation was quickly spread by the conservative Fox News outlet.
Repeatedly subjected to threats of violence, Soros was the first of thirteen highly-visible Democrats and progressive organizations — including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and former US President Barack Obama — to receive pipe bombs in the mail from a fanatic Trump-supporter and conspiracy theorist named César Sayoc.
Only last week, the US the House of Representatives second-in-command, Kevin McCarthy, tweeted that Soros and two billionaire men associated with the Jewish faith — former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and big-ticket Democratic cash contributor Tom Steyer — were trying to purchase the outcome of the hotly-contested 2018 midterms.
McCarthy removed the tweet after the pipe bomb mailings were traced back to the anti-Semitic right-winger Sayoc.
Putting the blame for a host of complex sociological issues on the wealthy 88-year-old Jewish financier has become something of a cottage industry, suggested Deborah Lipstadt, an Emory University professor of Holocaust history and the author of a new book covering the causes and effects of modern anti-Semitism.
“Soros has become the House of Rothschild of the 21st century,” said Lipstadt, cited by Ft.com.
“No one [explicitly] says Soros is a Jew, but there are groups on the right for whom these [symbols] are a wink-wink, nod-nod dog whistle,” she added.
Modern conspiracy theories take root due in part to internet usage and are regularly tied to financiers of Jewish descent, notes University of Utah professor Robert Goldberg, the author of a book covering the seemingly endless supply of conspiracy culture in the US.
“I think this has really reached the mainstream,” Goldberg noted.
“Conspiracy theories have become normal,” he added, cited by the Financial Times.