In the aftermath of Saturday’s deadly attack on a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, capping a week of political violence that included a racially motivated shooting in Kentucky and pipe bombs mailed by a pro-Trump Floridian to numerous Democratic leaders and other critics of President Donald Trump, NBC News reported on an underlying spike in social media attacks on Jewish people in particular–using code language anyone who follows politics locally or nationally ought to recognize.
Separate researchers who were independently looking at [Instagram and Twitter] said attacks on Jewish people had spiked on both services ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 6, similar to a rise in harassment before the 2016 presidential election.
Many but not all of the posts mention billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, the researchers said. Soros is frequently the subject of unfounded conspiracy theories, and his home was among the targets in a series of attempted bombings this month. [Pols emphasis]
Jonathan Albright, a researcher at Columbia University in New York who directs a center on digital forensics, told NBC News that the amount of anti-Semitic material posted to Instagram and tied to Soros was possibly the worst sample of hate speech he had seen on the site.
Billionaire investor George Soros has served as a boogeyman for the far right for many years, stemming from his support both for Democratic candidates and liberal nonprofit organizations working in support of a wide range of progressive agenda items. Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton regularly invokes Soros as a villain on the campaign trail. In truth, conservative funders from Sheldon Adelson to the Koch Brothers spend vastly more on American politics than Soros–but Soros has been the subject of intense vilification because he was born in Europe, and perceived to be a corrupting foreign influence by the nativist right.
And of course, George Soros is Jewish.
RYAN WARNER: …Recently it was reported that Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, will be investing in your campaign perhaps to the tune of as much as a million dollars. While it sounds like that money might be welcome when you look at what your opponent is spending, I wonder what kind of influence comes with a sizeable contribution like that.
WALKER STAPLETON: Probably the same kind of influence that comes from Good Jobs Colorado which is being backed by checks from George Soros, a wealthy international financier… [Pols emphasis]
Full stop. The term “wealthy international financier” has stood in for “Jew” among anti-Semitic bigots literally for centuries. Henry Ford’s infamous anti-Semitic book The International Jew was entirely based on the trope of wealthy Jews controlling the world through financial treachery and a lack of national loyalties, like its forged predecessor The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In terms of identifying thinly-concealed prejudice against Jewish people, the phrase can be fairly considered a dead giveaway.
So the next logical question is, Did Walker Stapleton use these words by accident?
The answer: we don’t think so. And here’s why.
Stapleton was nominated for governor at the Republican State Assembly this year by former Congressman Tom Tancredo. Tancredo is a past board member of the openly racist organization VDARE, which had planned to host its annual conference in Colorado Springs but was turned away after negative press. Tancredo’s anger over the supposed bad treatment of VDARE led him to first consider a run for governor himself, then to endorse Stapleton once he was satisfied Stapleton took the “issue” seriously. If you go to VDARE’s website to read about Jewish people, this is the kind of thing you’ll find:
Jewish activity collectively, throughout history, is best understood as an elaborate and highly successful group competitive strategy directed against neighboring peoples and host societies. The objective has been control of economic resources and political power. One example: overwhelming Jewish support for non-traditional immigration, which has the effect of weakening America’s historic white majority. [Pols emphasis]
The individual in custody for the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh entered the building screaming “All Jews Must Die,” and in his social media rantings before the attack peddled conspiracy theories that Jewish immigration groups were funding the “caravan” of asylum seekers slowly traveling north through Mexico toward the U.S. border. The attack in Pittsburgh on Saturday was a direct expression of the ideology promoted by VDARE as you can read above. The ideology of Tom Tancredo. The man who nominated Walker Stapleton.
The same Walker Stapleton now demonizing “wealthy international financier” George Soros.
Stapleton’s embrace of Tom Tancredo, like Donald Trump himself, was not an accident. Employing Tancredo to tacitly reassure far-right voters about Stapleton’s own views was not an accident. The hatred being stirred up in order to turn out conservative votes across the nation and right here in Colorado, from fact-free conspiracy theories about “Soros funding the caravan” to Stapleton’s own ad campaigns vilifying so-called “sanctuary cities,” is not an accident. Based on these facts, we have absolutely no reason to believe that Stapleton’s choice of specific racist code words to describe Mr. Soros was an accident either.
At some point, you have to stop being polite and call this out for what it is.
After the deadliest hate crime against Jewish people in American history, the time has come.