There are a lot of issues with our political system today, but perhaps one of the scarier aspects is that Donald Trump is the Conspiracy Theory President.
I know this is old news. After all, Trump was a proponent of birtherism for years before he got elected. And I would dearly love to brush off the majority of these conspiracy theories as ridiculous, except that enough people believe them to make a genuine impact on our discourse today.
I miss old-school conspiracy theories. I miss aliens and crop circles and “technology is going to turn us into zombies.” They were stupid, but they were relatively harmless.
The ones Trump and Alex Jones and even some Fox News hosts spread are decidedly not harmless, even if they are just as ridiculous. Pizzagate — a theory that posited Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ran a child sex trafficking ring through a pizza shop in Washington DC — is both insane and the direct cause of a man entering a DC pizza store with a gun and threatening violence.
They are so ridiculous and so divorced from reality, the first reaction is to laugh it off. But there are people who aren’t laughing — who are listening and believing — and some of them are in positions of serious power or influence.
Recently, George Soros has made the news again. Fox News, Senator Chuck Grassley, and President Trump have all repeated the line that Soros paid protestors to speak out against Kavanaugh. Frankly, it is disgusting.
The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018
Most of the time when Soros’s name shows up online, it’s some horseshit about him paying protestors and selling out fellow Jews to the Nazis in World War II. This is, to any sane person, clearly ridiculous for two reasons: 1) how, exactly, does paying protestors work? (Do they get taxed? Is it cash? Do they get venmoed the money? Does it show up in their savings account automatically? Is it just an Amazon gift card? Does Soros secretly pay off debt?) and 2) Soros was 14-years-old when World War II ended, so he wasn’t exactly selling anybody out.
Those are just the first two reasons that come to mind. When we look a little bit deeper, it gets worse.
The idea that Jews have a secret cabal where they secretly hold all the power and run the media and the banks is an old and boring one. George Soros is a rich Hungarian Jewish man who is active in the Democratic party. Soros paying protestors is a theory borne out of very old, very boring, and very basic anti-Semitic propaganda.
Throwing the stories of him “selling out fellow Jews to the Nazis” is a fun twist, in that it is utterly illogical for a young boy to have been capable of doing that, period, but it is especially nonsensical when you factor in the prevailing Nazi attitude towards the Jewish people. Nazis didn’t hate some Jews or even most Jews. The Nazis were committing a mass genocide. There are no “good” or “token” Jews to a Nazi. This theory falls apart under any amount of scrutiny.
Furthermore, there’s something especially gross about calling a Jewish man who survived the Nazis in World War II a Nazi himself. It is a bastardization of history, a twisting of buzzwords to suit your own purposes and obscure the pain felt by actual victims.
Maria Bartiromo asked Chuck Grassley this morning if he thinks George Soros is paying the elevator protesters. "I have heard so many people believe that. I tend to believe it," Grassley said. Trump tweeted the accusation about 80 minutes later pic.twitter.com/az8QtMZwma
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) October 5, 2018
But that’s not the point of a George Soros conspiracy theory, is it? No, a George Soros conspiracy theory cloaks itself in concern for the Jewish people (he sold out his friends!) while repeating anti-Semitic dog whistles to whip up a boogeyman and paint the GOP as the reasonable good guys.
Think about the kind of soul one has to have to spout that sort of rhetoric — to cynically insist Soros is some man behind the curtain, pulling strings, like bad SS propaganda, and then wrapping yourself up in the Israeli flag to deflect any criticism. Think about how rotten, how spoiled a person must be on the inside to repeat these ideas as if they’re worth discussing or considering.
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube