George Soros is extremely active in American politics. At least, in the view of the alt-right’s conspiracy theorists. Throughout the past year, he’s been accused of single-handedly funding a number of violent movements in addition to a large number of other “leftist schemes.” However, scrutiny of Soros is nothing new. Since the early 90s when he made a fortune by shorting the British pound, the public, conservatives especially, have been wary of the financial power he wields. Often spending outrageous sums to further his political goals, he’s been made an easy target for the right wing. With his contributions of over $18 billion to Open Society Foundations, as reported by the Atlantic, the right-wingers have more ammunition than ever.
An Enticing Target For Partisan Conspiracies
However, the most recent target of right wing conspiracies hasn’t been his political donations or even his currency manipulation, but rather his philanthropy. A long-time advocate of progressive and democratic causes around the globe, Soros has given almost unfathomable sums to these causes, earning him the ire of those who oppose them. The partisan divide in the United States has shown this clearly with the right-wing being fervently opposed to his every move and scrutinizing every dollar given. The vicious divide fuels a suspicion against financial elites such as Soros and makes it easy for people to focus their anger and suspicion towards them.
It’s easy to understand this distrust. However, this kind of narrative can be incredibly dangerous, not only for Soros or those crafting the conspiracies but for democracy as a whole. These types of theories have become a staple of authoritarianism, and have been used in the past to cut down grassroots activism. But perhaps more diabolically, they muddle the very real discussion about the actual power that philanthropists have at their disposal and drown out valid concerns about the influence of these mega-donors with conspiratorial nonsense.
Why Have These Theories Been So Prevalent in the US?
The economy and political structure of the United States has made it seem the perfect place for philanthropists, but it has also been proven to foster conspiracies against them. So it’s no surprise that Soros, already a controversial figure outside the US, had attracted so much undeserved ire. A champion of globalism, progressive policies, and capitalism, his values alone have made him an easy target.
George Soros has never been one to steer clear of controversy, and his philanthropy has shown this quite clearly. This has further compounded theories about him and has made it easy for outlandish conspiracies featuring him to gain a strong following.
The Real Power of Philantropy
Over the past few decades, Soros has given roughly $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations, which have used nearly all of those funds in order to further social-justice, human-rights, and democratic causes. In his most recent move, Soros has shown support for a more liberal immigration policy throughout Europe in order to help alleviate the recent refugee crisis. Soros and his ability to exercise power via wealth is something worth serious consideration. When one man can wield as much power as Soros, it’s easy for theorists to assume the worst. However, the real danger of these theories lies in the fact that they hide any real threats, and stifle actual discussion about a very real issue.
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