According to prominent far-right figures in the U.S., there’s only one man responsible for the controversy surrounding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court: Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros.
Soros playing some sort of behind-the-scenes role in the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, particularly last week’s announcement of a supplemental FBI investigation into the allegations, is the latest conspiracy theory spreading among the far-right.
Fox News’ Laura Ingraham has spearheaded the conspiracy, tweeting on Friday that “SOROS STRIKES AGAIN.”
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) September 29, 2018
To Ingraham, the two women who confronted Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in an elevator — a dramatic showdown during which the women revealed their own sexual assault stories, helping convince Flake to throw his weight behind an FBI investigation — were little more than tools in an “astroturf” operation. And, as the conspiracy theory goes, the ultimate operative behind the confrontation was apparently Soros. “Flake screamer/assault victim is co-[executive] director of the Soros-funded left-wing group Center for Democracy,” Ingraham wrote.
Ingraham then linked to a story from notorious conspiracy site Big League Politics. The bare-bones post, which noted that the Center for Popular Democracy had received funding from a Soros-linked group in the past, did little to explain why Soros would concoct a scheme to confront a waffling senator in an elevator, or why Soros would care in the first place about the accusations against Kavanaugh. (Patrick Howley, the author of the Big League Politics post, has his own history of grotesque, misogynistic writing.)
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) September 29, 2018
Little matter, though. To America’s far-right, the Soros-as-bogeyman meme was too good to miss, as illustrated by the post from Big League Politics — a site best known for not only encouraging Pizzagate conspiracy theorizing, but for popularizing conspiracy theories like QAnon or the notion that Clinton-linked operatives killed former DNC staffer Seth Rich.
Not to be outdone by Big League Politics, another fester of conspiracy theories, Gateway Pundit, went a step further. Where Ingraham at least acknowledged that the women were victims of assault, Gateway Pundit’s post blared that the “WOMEN SCREAMING AT FLAKE IN ELEVATOR were Soros-Funded Astroturfed Activist Leaders! — NOT VICTIMS.” Naturally, the post provided no proof of its claims.
Others, likewise, pushed conspiracies about Soros and Kavanaugh. For instance, conspiratorial radio hosts like Kevin McCullough and Wayne Allyn Root — who recently opened for Trump’s speech in Nevada — both refused to believe that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claims could be authentic, but were instead tied to some kind of Soros-linked operation to thwart Kavanaugh.
And far-right agitator Katie Hopkins, a British national who has been facing financial difficulties, also said that the “elevator scene” was “produced by Soros.”
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) September 30, 2018
Ingraham herself has a well-documented history of pushing these Soros-based conspiracies. In 2016, when anti-Trump protests were in full swing, Ingraham claimed that those marching were “Soros protesters” and “sad puppets for George Soros.” Unsurprisingly, Ingraham offered no proof. (Numerous marchers sarcastically responded to her claims by noting that they still hadn’t received their checks from Soros.)
More Soros protestors. https://t.co/BcamIWAXCs
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 26, 2016
These AstroTurf protestors are props in a far bigger game. Now threatening inauguration. Sad puppets for George Soros.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) November 10, 2016
The claims about Soros’ apparent culpability in delaying Kavanaugh’s ascension is just the latest attempt by the far-right to frame Soros as the ultimate actor responsible for everything from the rise of Beto O’Rourke in Texas to backing left-wing groups abroad.
The claims are also the latest evidence of convergence among international far-right themes. Soros entered the American far-right’s lexicon sometime a few years ago, after the far-right across the post-communist space — namely in Hungary, but also in countries like Russia and Romania — painted Soros as the root of all liberal evils, from migration to economic malaise.
In the time since, Soros has been blamed for everything from last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to broader opposition to Trump’s policies. Erik Prince, a businessman involved in shady meetings with Russian operatives, memorably claimed that Soros was trying to lead a “color revolution” in the U.S.
“For a new generation of nationalists — from the U.S. to Russia and Hungary — Mr Soros has become the perfect villain,” wrote Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman.
Even in state-level races, Soros-based conspiracies have infiltrated discourse. As The Texas Observer’s Chris Hooks wrote last year, “A spectre is haunting Texas — the spectre of Soros.” (Disclaimer: This reporter has written in the past for EurasiaNet, which was once funded by Open Society Foundations, which was itself founded by Soros.)
Of course, as with most conspiracies, there’s a far darker reality lurking behind the notion that Soros is responsible for all the ills facing down nationalist movements. While most of those pushing Soros-based conspiracies don’t come out and say that Soros is evil because he’s Jewish, it doesn’t take much sleuthing to discern the anti-Semitism behind the conspiracies. Between the imagery of Soros pulling strings to the fact that Soros has effectively replaced “the Rothschilds” as the go-to for any conspiracy about an international cabal thwarting the people’s will, it’s not hard to catch the bigotry lacing the rising conspiracies about Soros.
Remember that by “Soros” they mean “Jews,” the way previous generations preferred “Rothschild” for their little antisemitic euphemism. https://t.co/F6BYj30aeQ
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) September 29, 2018
As Foreign Policy’s Emily Tamkin, in her definitive profile of how Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has marshaled animus toward Soros while gutting Hungary’s democracy, wrote, “Orban himself does not come out and say that Soros is bad because he is Jewish. But many believe he doesn’t need to.” Nor, apparently, does Ingraham — but her increasingly paranoid followers clearly don’t need her to.