Talking points

Soros: Did he fund Ka­vanaugh protests?

The Week (US) - - 16 News -

Pres­i­dent Trump has dis­cov­ered the Right’s “fa­vorite bo­gey­man,” said Adele Stan in The Amer­i­can Prospect. Last week, Trump joined in conservatives’ ac­cu­sa­tion that sex­ual as­sault sur­vivors protest­ing Brett Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion to the Supreme Court were be­ing funded by bil­lion­aire fi­nancier George Soros. It’s no se­cret that Soros, a Jewish Holo­caust sur­vivor born in Hun­gary, gives lav­ishly to lib­eral groups through his Open So­ci­ety Foun­da­tion. But in right-wing “fever swamps,” the de­pic­tion of Soros as a Machi­avel­lian pup­pet­mas­ter echoes the ugly anti-Semitic con­spir­a­cies of pre­vi­ous eras. “No, the protesters aren’t be­ing paid to protest, let alone by George Soros,” said Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Nev­er­the­less, prom­i­nent Repub­li­cans rushed to back up Trump, in­clud­ing Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee chair. This is scary stuff. In Hun­gary and Poland—for­mer democ­ra­cies that are now de facto one-party states—gov­ern­ments reg­u­larly ac­cuse Soros “of stir­ring up op­po­si­tion to their rule,” with strong, anti-Semitic code words.

Trump’s Soros-bash­ing isn’t anti-Semitic, said Jonathan Tobin in Soros is a prom­i­nent pro­gres­sive, and Repub­li­can at­tacks on Soros “are no dif­fer­ent from the way Democrats have gone all out to de­mo­nize the bil­lion­aire Koch Broth­ers—non-Jewish lib­er­tar­i­ans who spent freely on be­half of Repub­li­cans.” Trump ac­tu­ally “has a point,” said Asra No­mani in The Wall Street Jour­nal. Soros isn’t cut­ting lit­eral checks to demon­stra­tors, but he has pro­vided mil­lions in grants to many of the lib­eral groups that or­ga­nized against Ka­vanaugh, in­clud­ing the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Cen­ter for Pop­u­lar Democ­racy. As jour­nal­ists and in­ves­ti­ga­tors of­ten say, “fol­low the money.”

First of all, most large-scale protests—whether on the Right or the Left—re­quire money for pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tion, lo­gis­tics, and sup­port, said Philip Bump in The Washington Post. That doesn’t mean that “the protesters them­selves are not sin­cere.” Sec­ondly, it’s rich to hear Trump com­plain­ing about money in pol­i­tics. Ka­vanaugh ben­e­fited from at least $12 mil­lion in television ads sup­port­ing his nom­i­na­tion that were paid for by the pro-con­ser­va­tive Ju­di­cial Crisis Net­work, whose donors are hid­den from the pub­lic. Of course, Trump would know a thing or two about paid protesters. It’s of­ten for­got­ten now, but when Trump first launched his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign—then con­sid­ered a joke—he paid dozens of ac­tors $50 a head to be there and cheer wildly. How’s that for fake news?

Soros: Echoes of anti-Semitism

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