Home > Uncategorized > The danger of antisemitic dog whistles- posted 4/2/2023

The danger of antisemitic dog whistles- posted 4/2/2023

I don’t usually pay attention to Donald Trump’s social media postings. However, I did notice that in his foaming-at-the-mouth about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the D.A. who is prosecuting him, he called Bragg a “Soros-backed animal”. Since he was indicted, Trump has repeatedly invoked the Hungarian-American billionaire, George Soros. He has tweeted on his social media that Bragg got over a million dollars from Soros.

Numerous other Republicans have followed Trump’s lead and they have also mirrored Trump’s invocation of Soros. Ron DeSantis, Mike Pompeo, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Rick Scott and Elise Stefanik all cited the Soros-Bragg connection as has FOX host Tucker Carlson. They all at least imply Bragg has been bought by Soros.

But there is no evidence that Bragg is controlled by Soros. No Soros money was ever ear-marked for Bragg. Soros and Bragg have never met or even spoken.

Bragg announced his candidacy for Manhattan D.A. in June 2019. On May 8, 2021, Color of Change, a progressive criminal justice group endorsed Bragg. Nationally, Color of Change was supporting progressive prosecutor candidates like Larry Krassner in Philadelphia. Soros gave Color of Change one million dollars and about $500,000 ended up going to support Bragg.

Trump’s statement that Soros gave Bragg one million dollars was false and an exaggeration. Soros never donated to Bragg directly. In the 2021-2022 election cycle, Color of Change spent $4.6 million. The money Color of Change gave to Bragg was 11% of what they spent in that election cycle. So it must be asked: why does George Soros figure so prominently in Republican social media? Why is he an obsession for Republicans?

For over ten years, George Soros has been a scapegoat for everything and has figured repeatedly in right wing conspiracy theories. While no one, including Soros, is beyond criticism, what has been going on with Soros is an antisemitic dogwhistle. At the core of antisemitic conspiracy theories is the narrative that a secret cabal of Jews run the world and they are at the root of the world’s problems.

Invoking Soros as Republicans consistently have is an updated version of the traditional antisemitic trope that goes back to the Rothschilds. Soros is a symbol for Jewish power and control. Republicans have not hesitated to try and jump start this ancient canard. It amounts to an attempt to mainstream antisemitism. Ben Lorber, a researcher of right wing extremist movements, writes:

“For a long time, white nationalists have been afraid of white people losing their grip on power in the country so the narrative that Jews are pulling the strings of the civil rights movement or pulling the strings of the Black Lives Matter movement today are at the core of white supremacism.”

The Soros dogwhistle is part of an attempted process to normalize antisemitism. While MAGA Republicans have a shifting array of enemies, the increasing antisemitism in America is a reflection of the prominence of identifying Jews as an enemy.

MAGA began with a Muslim ban and hatred directed at immigrants. It moved on to hating Black Lives Matter and Antifa. Now it is more focused on hating trans and queer people. Since Trump invoked Soros, Jews are being cast in an increasingly negative light. Candidly, it is not clear where the hatred will evolve to next.

As a Jewish person, who has studied Germany’s example, I would draw the parallel to the period of 1933 to 1939. Antisemitism in 1933 in Germany was a shadow of what it would later become. In the early 1930’s, antisemitism played a small role in attracting voters to fascism. That changed once the Nazis came to power. Still, the process of antisemitic indoctrination was quite gradual. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, wrote:

“ The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.”

Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda didn’t really focus on disparaging Jews until the late 1930’s. Certainly, antisemitism became increasingly normalized in Germany through laws and Hitler’s utterances through the mid-1930’s but the Nazis held back on their rage against Jews until the late 1930’s. Claudia Koonz has written in her book, The Nazi Conscience:

:”As the historian Raul Hilberg emphasized, the Final Solution depended not on the extremism of Hitler and a few top leaders but on the creation of a loose consensus, a “latent structure” that was “not so much a product of laws and commands as it was a matter of spirit, of shared comprehension, of consonance and synchronization.”

I think that lesson should not be lost on us. Antisemitism is not static. It creates a conspiratorial narrative to explain the disorientation and alienation experienced by many Americans. Trump has encouraged all kinds of erroneous and pernicious thinking including conspiracy theories like QAnon and white supremacist ideologies. He has falsely portrayed the white majority as oppressed.

Whether antisemitism re-emerges as a popular force in America is not pre-determined but the German historical experience dictates that it must be called out, exposed, and aggressively opposed before it gains greater traction.

Just mention of the name Soros conjures up all manner of globalist machinations among MAGA Republicans. The irony is that the Republicans are the party of Citizens United and dark money. Given their track record, it is rank hypocrisy to single out Soros for spending money. He does give much to liberal and progressive causes but is that any different than Republicans relying on super wealthy donors like the Koch and DeVos families for their causes?

The George Soros dogwhistle offers a clue into the MAGA mindset. It is too early to conclude that an American fascist threat is over because Trump lost in 2020 and he is facing criminal prosecution. If a MAGA candidate retakes the White House in 2024, MAGA enemies are extremely likely to face enhanced persecution. Fascist movements like the MAGA Republicans thrive on attacking their perceived enemies. All opponents of antisemitism and fascism must remain vigilant.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jlewandohotmailcom
    April 3, 2023 at 12:20 am

    The antisemitic, racist, & xenophobic messages have become well-crafted, haven’t they? They build fear, rage, and a sort of religious fervor that almost demands violence, while nurturing the narrative that it’s all in self-defense. It’s hard to combat, because calling out bigotry always leads to the bigots crying about being called out. I think what you’re doing is the only way–point out the history of these tropes and the fact that the outcome of adopting them as policy has never been good, so those willing to listen won’t be fooled.

    • April 3, 2023 at 12:33 am

      Jean, I do agree that calling out the antisemitism, racism, homophobia etc is the right way to go. I think the Jewish experience shows the wisdom of confronting the fascists/racists/ antisemites. Not challenging only emboldens them.

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