George Soros is a self-made billionaire hedge fund manager who makes substantial donations to progressive causes worldwide. While those on the alt-right might agree with that description, they also paint a much more sinister picture of him. This includes claims he was a Nazi soldier even though when World War II ended, Soros was a 14-year-old Jew.
His legions of opponents also consider progressive political protestors to be Soros stooges on his payroll. He first came to be widely reviled in conservative circles when he opposed the second Iraq war. During such times, many persons lob irrational accusations drenched in nationalistic fervor. In addition to some right wingers lambasting Soros, The New York Sun called for the imprisonment of anti-war protestors, the Dixie Chicks became pariahs for their mild criticism of the president, and Abu Ghraib whistleblowing hero Joe Darby was labeled a traitor.
While those other instances have faded from memory, the Soros conspiracy theory endures. Glenn Beck labeled him a marionette master who controls the world. Bill O’Reilly called him an “off-the-charts dangerous extremist who wants open borders, a one-world foreign policy, and the legalization of drugs and euthanasia.” Such descriptions enable the speaker to cram all of their and the world’s problems into a bite-sized capsule. It’s much easier than finding solutions to complex issues. It’s also more attractive to blame everything on an impossibly wealthy, influential, and diabolical Jew.
Theorists holding these views think Soros runs or helps control a shadow government that has unlimited power save the ability to shut down YouTube videos exposing it. And despite wielding this unchecked influence and possessing a ruthlessness in executing world dominion, his progressive puppets control neither the White House nor the Senate.
There is a counter belief by some left-wingers that the Koch brothers control a shadow government that benefits Republicans and, to a lesser extent, Libertarians. My objections to any such claims are nonpartisan and my concern is only with conspiracy malarkey. Anyone making these types of claims against the Koch brothers is equally wrong and just as batty.
There is no denying Soros’ ability to influence policy and move markets. Once in the 1990s he traded so many Malaysian ringgits that is caused the currency to substantially devalue. This led Malay Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad to declare, “We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews,” which is poorly-veiled code speak for, “We do want to say that this is a plot by the Jews.” Mohamad continued, “But it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge.”
Soros learned early and up close about the harrowing specter of anti-Semitism. He survived the German invasion of his native Hungary and his opponents have obscenely twisted this into a narrative where a Holocaust survivor was a Nazi or one of their collaborators. In actuality, that’s who Soros was hiding from. When Soros was 13, his father changed the family name to Schwartz and also purchased papers identifying the family as Christian. He also had his son portray himself as the godson of a Hungarian official. This official protected Jews in an occupied country, a la Oskar Schindler.
One of the official’s responsibilities was to catalog properties the Nazis seized and he once took the teenage Soros with him, though Soros did none of the inventory. He hung out with staff members at the looted estate and learned horsemanship. This equestrian excursion described in conspiracy theory circles as Nazi enablement and collaboration.
Following the Allied victory, Soros studied at the London School of Economics and later devised a monetary theory that helped make him a billionaire many times over. He once even experienced a 10-figure rise in his net worth in 24 hours. As an extremely wealthy Jew who fills liberal coffers and who has shaped the course of markets and policies, Soros is obvious conspiracy theory fodder. As such, there are long-refuted lies still making the Internet rounds, including a photo of Auschwitz clerk Oskar Groening, which is wrongly claimed to be a picture of Soros in Nazi garb.
While painted as the moneybags of a far left deep state, Soros’ politics are more nuanced. True, he has made contributions to organizations fighting for migrant welfare and criminal justice reform. But he has also criticized the hijacking of the #MeToo movement by political opportunists and has said the reason he won’t donate to moderate Republicans is that the association with him would harm those politicians. In fact, before he became the focus of conspiracy theories, Soros made donations to the GOP. Further, one of the reasons he has pumped many millions into Eastern European countries is because of his first-hand experience with the horrors and shortcomings of communism. What’s more, his biggest donations have been outside the political realm; he has given nearly a billion dollars to those former Soviet bloc countries to help them privatize industries, a notion beloved by Republicans and Libertarians.
Conspiracy theorists often speak of powerful Jews trying to run the world. But they want to be the ones revealing this secret. Since it’s well-known that Soros is an extremely wealthy, politically influential Jew, the theorists dig for something deeper so they can maintain their status as members of the enlightened few. That’s why they accuse him of running of a deep state, but that is a self-defeating claim. Someone controlling a shadow government would be, as the name suggests, far removed from the limelight and would be someone we had never heard of.