The Republican Party promoted an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory: a week later, 11 people are dead
What once was an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory peddled by neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups has not just been elevated, in recent weeks, but adopted as campaign strategy by multiple Republican groups and office holders. The theory is that moneyed Jewish “puppet masters” are behind recent efforts to bring asylum-seekers and immigrants to America, part of a plan to destabilize white rule. It is a decades-old anti-Semitic trope by the far-right, but one that leapt to prominence in recent weeks with claims that a “caravan” of Central American refugees is the product of a devious plot by Holocaust survivor George Soros.
Rep. Matt Gaetz was overt in this. On October 17th he tweeted:
BREAKING: Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!
The tweet has remained undeleted, even after Soros was the target of an attempted bombing and after an anti-Semitic white supremacist murdered eleven Jewish Americans in their synagogue, wounding several others. The accusation was entirely false, and remains entirely false, but that did not stop Donald Trump himself from obliquely promoting it in a televised rally the next evening.
The theory that George Soros is secretly responsible for nearly all political events in America–to an extent that far exceeds any other named American–continues to be both one of the most commonly expressed current anti-Semitic tropes and the one that regularly, and incessantly, finds its way to Fox News, to Republican lawmakers, to Republican election campaigns and PACs, and in statements by the Republican president. But it is not Trump that has been doing the heavy lifting on advertising, promoting and mainstreaming those notions: That role has been embraced by Republican Party leadership.