For the better part of three decades, the religious right has bullied devout Christians into voting for virtually any schmuck with an “R” next to his or her name. They’ve suggested in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that voting for a Democrat could put your salvation at risk, and that the Democratic Party is demonic at worst or being played by the devil and the Antichrist at best.
More recently, one of the right-wing fringe’s favorite whipping boys has been billionaire financier and unabashed liberal George Soros. For instance, during the furor over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a number of Republicans claimed that the protesters on hand at the Capitol before the final vote were on Soros’ payroll. This smear went all the way up to Donald Trump himself.
Besides being blatantly false, these claims border on being anti-Semitic. After all, Soros is a wealthy Jew, and it has long been an article of faith on the far right that wealthy Jews control everything, or are at the very least out to control everything. However, this is but one of many far-right tropes that have been “mainstreamed” by Trump and others in recent years. They have simply used Soros conspiracy theories as a foil to do so.
At least one right-wing pundit found a way to merge claims that Democrats are the devil with a below-the-belt attack on Soros. He would have us believe that Soros is working hand in glove with the Antichrist–if he isn’t the Antichrist himself.
Some of the biggest stars of the far-right tubes are so-called counter-terrorism analysts who offer red meat disguised as commentary. One of the most infamous members of that club is Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. His outfit purports to be a national security think tank, but actually serves up a steady diet of Islamophobia.
Among other things, he believes that the logo of the U. S. Missile Defense Agency is a secret hint that this country has submitted to Islam. His reputation for accusing virtually everything and everyone of being in bed with jihadists actually got him banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2010 and 2011. In a measure of how extreme the GOP has gotten of late, Gaffney has been a frequent guest at CPAC in more recent years, including 2018.
But Islamophobia isn’t the only lunacy in which Gaffney regularly trades, as evidenced by Thursday’s edition of the “Secure Freedom Minute,” a syndicated daily “national security commentary” that airs on 400 stations across the nation. In it, he tackled a question that has been floating around the far-right Web for much of the week–is Soros the Antichrist?
Blame Rudy Giuliani for this latest deplorable meme. Last weekend, Yashar Ali of HuffPost noticed Giuliani retweeted this chilling suggestion from a Trump diehard.
Gaffney conceded that question is something that is best tackled by theologians, since they are “better equipped to debate it than politicians.” But then he proceeded to tackle it himself. He mused that Soros’ “decades-long record” of “malevolence and destruction” is such that, at the very least, he should be considered “the anti-Christ’s right-hand man.”
What does that “decades-long record” show? Well, according to Gaffney, Soros’ support of “open societies” is a sham, since he uses his wealth to “undermine democratically elected governments” and to “fracture this country” by crawling into bed with its supposed enemies, “both foreign and domestic.”
Um, Frank? Just because a government is democratically elected doesn’t insulate it from criticism. If you believe that doing so doesn’t further an “open society,” you’re treading on dangerous ground. And that would be true even if you hadn’t suggested that Soros is the Antichrist’s “right-hand man”–and left open the suggestion that he’s the Antichrist himself.
Gaffney then directs his followers to a maudlin, mawkish documentary put together by the American Association of Evangelicals, an outfit that thinks some evangelicals are playing too nice with the left. Watch here, if you can stand it.
That documentary rehashes a number of long-debunked myths about Soros, such as the claim that he and his family helped the Nazis kill Jews.
This isn’t just a dog whistle, folks. By even hinting that Soros is working with the Antichrist, Gaffney is warning his followers that supporting anything supposedly connected with him is furthering the cause of “the enemy.”
For most of the last two years, Trump has struggled to get his approval ratings out of the low 40s. The only reason he’s doing even that well is because the religious right has managed to bully evangelicals into bowing down to him. This dog-whistling bile from Gaffney is a textbook example of how they’re doing it.
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