I’d like to think it was another case of that cliché about great minds, etc. … (I don’t believe I qualify, but I think my friend Roger Kimball does) … but when I woke up Sunday and saw Roger had written about George Soros on Roger’s Rules, I thought, sonofabeehiver, he stole my subject. I was about to write about Soros.
So I censored myself for a few hours, but I am going forward because there is more than enough to say about George Soros, especially now, more than enough for one person, even one as wise as Kimball. In fact, were I a biographer — an occupation for which I have nowhere near the patience or perspicacity — Soros would be my first choice for a subject. He is a paradigmatic figure for our times, a kind of a monster created in the twentieth century, inexorably metastasizing into the twenty-first.
Now I realize monster is a big word to call someone and I don’t use it lightly. It’s just the one that comes to mind — there is something almost inhuman about Soros.
Most of us know him as the multi-billionaire financier of ultra-liberal causes (love them or leave them) whose fortune, ironically, comes from currency speculation — the “man who broke the Bank of England” during the 1992 British pound currency crisis. Never mind that thousands lost their pensions in the process. It’s the breaks of the game — capitalism as practiced by a quondam anti-captialist.
But that’s far from the most troubling thing about Soros. What disturbs most is something you will not read about in his Wikipedia entry, except in the most veiled manner. Soros — who appears in the right-hand column of that entry as a “Hungarian American” and an “atheist” — is a Hungarian Jew who, when 14 at the height of the Holocaust, was, well… no Anne Frank.
The Ottawa Sun‘s Ezra Levant, quoted by Kimball, puts it succinctly:
To survive, George, then a teenager, collaborated with the Nazis.
First he worked for the Judenrat. That was the Jewish council set up by the Nazis to do their dirty work for them. Instead of the Nazis rounding up Jews every day for the trains, they delegated that murderous task to Jews who were willing to do it to survive another day at the expense of their neighbours.
Theodore [his father] hatched a better plan for his son. He bribed a non-Jewish official at the agriculture ministry to let George live with him. George helped the official confiscate property from Jews.
Well, okay, you’re thinking — he was fourteen. Give the guy a break. And I must admit that I — a secular Jew like Soros — have occasionally speculated about how I would have behaved in similar circumstances. And, although in my fantasy I might be a noble resistance fighter, laying my life on the line against fascism the way Primo Levi and others have described it, I certainly have no way of knowing. I might have been a sleazy collaborator myself. But I do know this: if I had done something like that just to survive, it would have haunted me the rest of my days.
And here’s the really creepy part: not so George Soros. In a surprisingly overlooked interview with 60 Minutes‘ Steve Kroft, Soros denied guilt or second thoughts about his World War II activities.
From Levant again:
How does Soros feel about what he did as a teenager? Has it kept him up at night?
Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes asked him that. Was it difficult? “Not at all,” Soros answered.
“No feeling of guilt?” asked Kroft. “No,” said Soros. “There was no sense that I shouldn’t be there. If I wasn’t doing it, somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. Whether I was there or not. So I had no sense of guilt.”
Somebody else would have done it. Sound familiar? It’s just the kind of excuse you might use when devaluing the British pound. A psychoanalyst might call it “splitting,” taking a part of your personality and splitting it off, as if there were two disconnected parts of you — the monster and the good citizen. The good citizen provides a mask, a disguise for the monster to do his work.
Am I calling Soros a disturbed person? In probability, yes. A man with two sides who is all the more dangerous for having both.
Starting in the 1980s, the good side went to work using his immense funds to help Eastern European countries transition out of the Soviet Union. This culminated in the 1990s with the establishment of the Open Society Institute.
But here in the United States, the same young man who collaborated with the Nazis has trouble as a grown man making moral distinctions or choosing sensible allies. He funded MoveOn.org, whose astonishing conflation of Bush and Hitler was both morally shameful and psychologically sick. (What an insult that was to the memory of the Holocaust.)
Now — and this is the proximate cause of my wanting to write about him in the first place — Soros is going after the tea party movement. From supporting freedom in Eastern Europe he has turned to attacking it in Eastern Tennessee. According to infowars.com:
Soros and the foundation left have launched a website designed to go after the growing Tea Party movement. Teapartytracker.org will post video interviews and blog entries gathered by folks on the false left who never grow weary of demonstrating their outrage over the very idea of a grassroots political effort overthrowing establishment Democrats and Republicans in the district of corporate criminals.
Teapartytracker.org will be sponsored by the NAACP, Think Progress, New Left Media and Media Matters for America. Think Progress is a George Soros operation connected to John Podesta’s Center for American Progress. Podesta is Clinton’s former chief of staff. Media Matters for America is the brainchild of a MoveOn consultant and Podesta’s Center for American Progress. Soros is a major supporter of MoveOn.
So now we have a former (allegedly guilt-free) collaborator with Hitler helping fund an attack on the tea parties. An ex-Ku Kluxer in the Senate was bad enough, but this is crazy, if you take even three baby steps backward to think about it.
What does Soros really think about the tea parties? Does he actually believe they are racists, even after all this time when there has been no evidence whatsoever? Could he be that stupid (or that cynical)? It seems in one part imbecilic and another black comic — with a script by Jonathan Swift and illustrations by Hieronymus Bosch.
Or is this all just pro-forma? A man sitting in his Manhattan office gazing out over Central Park South or by the fire at his chalet in Gstaad watching the skiers wind their way down the mountain? It’s like a novel by Daniel Silva. Whatever it is, the joke is on us.
UPDATE: Jeff Carter, a former director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, has an interesting perspective.