There’s a lot to say about the Kavanaugh disaster, and I might have more to say later (hopefully, it won’t be too derivative–there are professionals who are paid to be Johnny on the spot for these kinds of events). But one thing that shouldn’t get disappeared down the memory hole is Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s use of the ‘George Soros pays protestors’ anti-Semitic trope (and he’s not the only one doing it). While I’ve long recognized that the Republican Party has a ‘Jewish problem‘, I really didn’t think senior leaders would promote anti-Semitic slurs (there’s video at the link):
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.
Referring to financier George Soros is not some form of Republican faux-populism (and the racist right is thrilled by all of this by the way). In Europe, this slur is widely used by the far-right and the right to tap into anti-Semitic sentiment. Like much of the ‘alt-right’ bigotry, it is a recent European import–this slur does not derive from the ‘traditional’ American caste system racism, but is derived from the European neo-Nazi right:
But this small, noticeable–and much more directly violent–part of the far-right is more akin to the militias of the 1990s, which were obsessed with Jewish-led global conspiracies, along the lines of The Turner Diaries. It played a role in motivating the Oklahoma City bombings, and it winds it way through the ‘sovereign citizens’ movement.
In this ideology, Jews are controlling other minorities and use them as their shock troops and servants (as laughable as that is to everyone supposedly involved in the conspiracy). Admittedly, the typical bigotry towards minorities and immigrants is a critical part of it–they use this as a ‘gateway drug’ for recruiting (and they are quite willing to have more ‘traditional’ racists as allies). But, at the core, is a Jewish conspiracy: break the Jews, and it all falls apart.
In this they are much more akin to the European far-right, than traditional U.S. racists and segregationists. They are a related, but different problem, separate from the foundational scourge of racism, even as they use it as a ‘gateway drug’ to build their strength and find allies. If we wish to defeat them, we must understand them.
This is what the ‘George Soros pays professional protestors’ is tapping into (though, like everyone else, I’m still waiting for my SOROS!! check). At this point, if you are a Jew, it is clear that the Republican Party, as currently constituted, is an existential threat. And that whole allies thing on the left? Right now, Jews need some.
Grassley also makes clear just how easy it is for any group to move from ‘model minority’ to scapegoat (take note Asian-Americans). This could get really bad–and don’t think it will go away just because Democrats win an election (though Democrats do need to do that). The struggle never ends, but we have no choice but to fight it.
Update: The Wall Street Journal is now pushing this too (it’s a three tweet thread, read it).