Only days after white supremacist spouting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories murdered 11 Jewish Americans in their synagogue, Donald Trump returned today to stoking the same anti-Semitic conspiracy, hypothesizing that he “wouldn’t be surprised” to learn that frequent conservative target George Soros was funding a caravan of Central American migrants.
Reporter: Do think somebody is funding the caravan?
Trump: “I wouldn’t be surprised, yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Reporter: George Soros?
Trump: “I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes.”
This is false. There has been not a shred of evidence to support Trump‘s theory or the more generalized anti-Semitic theory that powerful Jewish groups are secretly behind recent immigration patterns, only an unending stream of conspiracy theories peddled by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Republican lawmakers, and Fox News guests. (We can debate among ourselves whether it was wise for this unnamed reporter to prod Trump into repeating this conspiracy yet again or whether the reporter was merely giving Trump the opportunity to distance himself from his past conspiracies.)
Soros was the victim of an attempted pipe bombing earlier this month. Despite this, the liberal Jewish American, a Holocaust survivor who has devoted himself to pro-democracy causes around the world, has remained a continued target of Republican-pushed conspiracy theories intended to demonize him.
Trump may genuinely believe these conspiracy theories–after all, they have appeared on Fox News, his only meaningful source of information. Alternatively, he may not, but is instead calculating that the propagation of these false theories is worth even the risk of continued violence if it results in goosing far-right turnout in these last days of a midterm election. It is difficult to say which is more likely.