Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Economist paints a Rosy, If Not Heroic, Portrait of Soros, Depicting His Adversaries as Little Better than Racist

Of course, you can count on a mainstream media outlet like The Economist to write a (mostly) flattering, or at least positive, portrait of George Soros, referred to as the "Canary in the global mine".

Not a word about such things as the Hungarian quietly buying District Attorneys' seats (köszönöm to Instapundit)…
An appetite for risk made George Soros a billionaire, but also made him enemies, as has his congenital philanthropy. In recent months these resentments have reached a new, alarming pitch. Two strands of criticism, in America and abroad, seem to have fused, a confluence epitomised by a pair of obscure letters sent by Republican politicians. A group of senators wrote to Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, and a clutch of congressmen to the comptroller-general, taking aim at the same detail: the role of USAID, America’s foreign-aid agency, in Macedonia, specifically its collaboration with the local arm of Mr Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF).

Mr Soros has supported democratic reform in central and eastern Europe since he distributed photocopiers among activists in the 1980s. His programmes avowedly promote free media, fair elections and clean government, rather than opposition parties, but local autocrats often miss the distinction. The Kremlin, which blamed Mr Soros for peaceful uprisings in Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbours in the 2000s, kicked his affiliate out in 2015. Belarus and Uzbekistan have also given him the push.

His political views and hefty donations have led to vitriol in America as well. Denunciations of George W. Bush and the Iraq war made him a bogeyman among right-wing fulminators and conspiracy theorists. His support for Hillary Clinton and disparagement of Donald Trump—an “impostor” and “would-be dictator”—have reinvigorated his assailants. Recently he has developed a controversial sideline in local prosecutorial races, from Louisiana to Illinois, betting that reformist prosecutors can help change the criminal-justice system. Sometimes the candidates he backs seem as baffled by his interest as their rivals, but 12 out of his 15 picks have won.

 … In any case, Mr Soros’s infamy from the bayous to the Balkans is odd. He is certainly no saint. Some of his wealth comes from currency speculation, as when, short-selling the pound in 1992, he “broke the Bank of England”. He has a French conviction for insider trading in 1988. Yet he has given billions to worthy causes. Michael Vachon, a longtime adviser, points out that Mr Soros derives no personal benefit from his advocacy of, say, the rights of Roma or the abolition of the death penalty. In politics, Mr Vachon says, unlike many big-time donors he “is always lobbying for a public purpose, never for private gain”. Often he promotes policies, as on tax, that could cost him.

 … Whatever the causes, as Soros-bashing spreads—the idea of his global meddling gaining a meretricious credibility with repetition—so do other troubling views. One is the cynical claim that peaceful protesters, whether against Mr Trump’s policies or corruption in Romania, take to the streets only if they are bribed: usually, run the calumnies from Bucharest to Washington, by Mr Soros. “If we’d paid all the protesters they say we have,” jokes Laura Silber of OSF, “we’d be bankrupt many times over. It’s an insult to people standing up for their beliefs.” Second, ever-more supposedly democratic leaders are relying on external adversaries to bolster their positions, confecting them if necessary.

In its final paragraph, The Economist basically calls everyone opposed to "Public Enemy Number 1" a racist or an antisemite if not outright a Nazi.
Finally, there is the particular kind of foe that Mr Soros is made to embody. Portrayals of him as an octopus, or, as in a Hungarian billboard, as a puppet-master, inevitably recall the last century’s anti-Semitic propaganda. Some such echoes may be accidental, the conspiracists unconsciously defaulting to ancient tropes, but they are striking. In a tweet praising Mr Orban, for example, Steve King, a Republican congressman, called Mr Soros a “Marxist billionaire”. That chimes with the old slur against Jews whereby, as Tivadar Soros says in his book, “at one and the same time they held in their hands…the Western capitalist countries and Russian Bolshevism.” “He survived the Nazis,” Mr Vachon says of Mr Soros’s current situation, “and he takes a long view.” No doubt, but in some ways this must be depressingly familiar.

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