“Fear again. If you want to control someone, all you have to do is to make them feel afraid.” Paul Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym
George Soros–the most evil man on this planet. Really, I wondered aloud as I read a post from an anti-Soros Facebook group? Over the past few years, as more repressive, right-wing governments have gained popularity in some Western democracies, Soros has become THE go-to bogeyman.
While I don’t personally know the wealthy philanthropist, I seriously doubt he’s responsible for all the global mischief he’s been (and is still being) accused of causing by right-wing media outlets and conspiracy theorists. The list of accusations includes but is certainly not limited to: the Arab Spring uprising in the Middle East, refugee invasion of Europe, Black Lives Matter Movement, Ukrainian Revolution and most recently the much-publicized ‘migrant caravan’ heading toward the US/Mexico border. Soros has been labeled the king of the Institutional Left by far-right Brietbart News and was accused by Donald Trump of paying women to protest during the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the US Supreme Court.
The Soros I’m aware of has used much of his wealth—via his Open Society Foundations—to promote human rights and democratic government initiatives in various regions of the world, especially in his native country of Hungary. He’s also often cited as being at least partially responsible for the final demise of communism in Eastern Europe and subsequent break-up of the former Soviet Union, the kind of work American administrations of the past would have been likely to applaud.
It seems the height of hypocrisy for American politicians to rail against Soros-sponsored initiatives when they themselves (on both the right and the left) are more than willing to accept money for their own election campaigns with very few questions asked. Hypocrisy seems to be a favored quality these days in Washington, DC.
What vehemently anti-Soros regimes in Washington and Budapest have in common is their use of Soros as an icon of the ‘evil left’ in order to stoke fear in the minds of citizens who failed to develop critical thinking skills. While I’m not exclaiming that Soros is somehow benignly benevolent without any personal agendas, I’m far too old and long of tooth to believe that one individual can wield the amount of power often credited to Soros.
2018 Midterm Elections
Welcome to the 2018 US Midterm Elections, a nasty little sideshow where mudslinging is the name of the game and ‘facts’ are played fast and loose. And the biggest bogeyman once again is…(drum roll)…George Soros.
Donald Trump, noted for his dramatic delivery of lie after slithering lie, has accused Soros of funding the thousands of Central American migrants currently reported to be headed for the southwestern border of the US. There is no evidence that Trump’s words are true, especially given his colorful history as the boy who’s cried wolf far too many times during his two years in office.
A more likely explanation for the massive gathering of migrants fleeing violence and repressive governments in Central America–particularly El Salvador and Honduras–is the fact that it’s far safer for large groups to travel unmolested over territory controlled by international drug cartels and others who would prey on desperate migrants traveling alone or in smaller groups. Add the ease of connecting and organizing large movements of people via social media, and it suddenly seems quite plausible that such a large group could have formed organically over a period of days or weeks.
Troops to the Border
Donald Trump, obviously delighting in his orchestration of so much melodrama, has decreed that 10,000-15,000 US soldiers be sent to hold the line on American’s southern border. A number of commentators have noted that such a build-up of troops along the US border with Mexico would exceed the number of American soldiers in either Iraq or Afghanistan, countries still labeled as war zones.
Trump’s betting the house (literally) that a vision of rapists, murderers and terrorists flooding across America’s southern border will be just the trick to get Americans into voting booths across the country on Tuesday. He’s also betting that his base won’t be upset about the millions of US taxpayer dollars he’s spending on his border showdown. This use of America’s military in an effort to swing the results of a national election is just the kind of grand theatrical production Trump relishes.
Social Media’s Role
Reminiscent of Russian collusion in the 2016 US Presidential election, a BBC investigation has uncovered similar deep social media roots of possible foreign interference in the 2018 Midterm Elections. An analysis of Twitter accounts pushing the Trump administration’s views has revealed curious patterns.
According to BBC’s Alistair Coleman:
“But what sets them apart from regular Twitter users is the sheer volume of posts. These accounts post hundreds of times daily, both their own content mixed with retweets from conservative accounts, including Donald Trump, his family, and conservative news outlets such as Breitbart and Gateway Pundit.
Posts appear on these accounts every few minutes, heavy with hashtags and emojis, and almost always with an accompanying meme, animated gif or photograph. It could be easy to surmise that it is a full-time job for the person or algorithm operating any given account.
The huge number of hashtags, sometimes several in each post (#MAGA, #VoteRedToSaveAmerica, #StopTheCaravan are all seen frequently), suggests an attempt to hijack search results – and hence the conversation through volume of traffic.
Curated content seems to be in broken English, suggesting it is not the user’s first language, and basic errors (“George Soro’s” with an apostrophe) suggests the output is based more on quantity rather than quality.
They’ve also remained active virtually continuously since they emerged in the months before the 2016 election when the emphasis was on #LockHerUp, #DrainTheSwamp and #EvilHilary.”
Hey, but it worked before
Lest we forget, we’ve been down this same ‘politics of fear’ road before with George W. Bush’s administration following 9/11. The puppet masters pulling Bush’s strings were Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and their target was preemptive strikes against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. This duo went so far as to push the lie that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction at the UN Security Council via their vessel, Secretary of State Colin Powell. The rest is written in the not so tidy history of that failed war.
After 15 years and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, the loss of 4,424 American troops and wounding of an additional 31,952, more than $1 trillion dollars spent (on credit) and security in much of Iraq is still a dream unfulfilled. In fact, many Iraqis still live daily without the basics of electricity and clean water.
While I’m no apologist for ruthless dictators like Saddam Hussein, sewing fear and lies to a willing public too distracted to pay attention is surely no substitute for well-planned and carefully considered domestic and foreign policies.
I’m wondering when the 40% of the American population who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 will wake from their mental slumber and recognize that he’s a perfect caricature of the snake oil salesman from the still romanticized days of the wild, Wild West.
On Tuesday, let’s show Trump and his cronies that the politics of fear no longer hold sway in the USA.