Police are investigating after an explosive device was mailed to the home of George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who has become the frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories.
The device was discovered by a staff member at Soros’ residence in the town of Bedford, an upscale suburb north of New York City, on Monday afternoon. Upon opening the package and realizing what it was, the staff immediately placed the package in an isolated area and called the police. The New York Times reported that a bomb squad was able to safely detonate the device, and an extensive investigation involving local police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the FBI began. The case has now been handed over to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force Division.
No one was hurt during the incident, and Soros was not at his Bedford residence when the device was discovered.
For years George Soros has been the subject to a vast number of right-wing conspiracy theories, which broadly claim that his philanthropy (he has given more than $18 billion to liberal causes around the world) is cover for a vast array of conspiracies.
The theories have been around since at least 2007, when former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly described Soros as “an extremist who wants open borders, a one-world foreign policy, legalized drugs, euthanasia, and on and on.” They have proved to be particularly popular among those who would have previously been described as being on the far-right fringe. Alex Jones for instance has claimed that Brennan Gilmore, who filmed the Charlottesville attack, was being paid by George Soros. The billionaire is also a frequent staple in the Q-Anon conspiracy and its various offshoots.
However, the Soros conspiracies have increasingly moved over into mainstream Republican rhetoric. During the Kavanaugh confirmation protests, for instance, Trump claimed that some of the protesters were “paid by Soros.” On Monday, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) told Fox that it was possible that George Soros was funding the migrant caravan heading towards the United States. Earlier in the month, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani also re-tweeted a post which claimed Soros was the anti-Christ.
BREAKING: Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source! pic.twitter.com/5pEByiGkkN
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 17, 2018
Amid all the conspiracies there is the worrying undertone of anti-Semitism against Soros, who is Jewish. As multiple commentators have pointed out, the scapegoating of Soros as the evil, cosmopolitan puppet master manipulating the lives of “true patriots” via the media and the finance system is exactly the same anti-Semitic template which was previously leveled against Jews.