May 29, 2019


New York Times columnist David Leonhardt called Grassley’s remark an “anti-Semitic smear,” elaborating, “The notion that George Soros is stirring up artificial protest is one of the biggest anti-Semitic tropes in the world today. A public official can’t claim it’s an innocent observation about someone who happens to be Jewish.” And in a piece for The Daily Beast titled, “There’s Been a George Soros for Every Era of Anti-Semitic Panic,” Spencer Ackerman declared “We may one day look back on this era as the Soros Age of anti-Semitism.”

But as a matter of simple factual accuracy, the assertion by Trump and other conservatives that Soros had “paid” individuals who protested the Kavanaugh appointment was true. No, he had not signed personal checks to the protesters. But that objection is pure semantics. Soros has, through his philanthropic organs, donated substantial sums of money to the groups that organized the anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations, including the one which staged the most high-profile of them all: the live-televised elevator confrontation. And according to an analysis undertaken by former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani, “At least 20 of the largest groups” involved in the protests “have been Open Society grantees.”

If the substantive content of Trump’s claim could be faulted for anything, it should not be for supposedly coded anti-Semitism, but rather the cynical attempt to delegitimize protest itself as unrepresentative of popular sentiment. Trump has established a dichotomy in the minds of his supporters whereby those who oppose his policies are not fellow Americans but members of a “mob” in cahoots with “the fake news media” and other traitorous malefactors. That said, it is far from irrelevant that many or even some of the protesters, who were attempting to override the constitutional process of representative democracy through pressure techniques, were professional political activists deriving part of their salary from George Soros’ largesse.

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