Republicans are using the Wisconsin parade tragedy to promote antisemitic claims

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Conservatives are blaming George Soros, claiming falsely that the Jewish philanthropist has somehow helped release criminals onto the streets.

Conservatives have wasted no time in politicizing the recent Waukesha, Wisconsin, tragedy, in which a driver plowed his car into scores of people participating in a local holiday parade.

The most recent theory promoted by some Republicans is antisemitic in nature and suggests billionaire philanthropist George Soros is somehow responsible for what happened.

"The massacre in Waukesha is horrifying. It was also preventable," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted Monday. "Soros prosecutors unleash havoc and violence when they take power. It is their goal. When we take back Congress, Republicans will take on the Soros prosecutors and stand up for the victims of crime."

Conservative lawmakers have specifically tried to blame the liberal donor for giving funds to local district attorney campaigns, to back bail reform, citing the fact that the Waukesha driver allegedly behind Sunday's incident had posted bond just over a week earlier, after being charged with reckless endangerment and skipping bail in a separate domestic abuse case.

The man in question had a long history of run-ins with police and had allegedly been fleeing the scene of another suspected domestic dispute when he struck multiple parade participants, killing at least five. The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office has since announced an inquiry into what it called the "inappropriately low" bail approved for the suspect earlier in November.

While Soros has poured money into such races across the country, it was not immediately clear whether he had donated to John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County district attorney. A scan of finance reports from Chisholm's campaign committee, Citizens for Chisholm, did not immediately reveal any contributions from the philanthropist.

Republicans were quick to blame Soros regardless.

"He funds everything destructive to faith, families, and freedom. He hates America," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wrote. "George Soros should have his citizenship revoked and we should block his money from poisoning our great country forever more. It's simple. If you don't like our Constitution, we throw you out."

Invoking Soros' name in connection with conspiracy theories and global plots, as many on the right commonly do, follows a pattern of antisemitism that connotes outsized Jewish control of society, according to experts. Soros is a Holocaust survivor who was born in Hungary in 1930 and made his fortune as a hedge fund manager.

"In far-right circles worldwide, Soros' philanthropy often is recast as fodder for outsized conspiracy theories, including claims that he masterminds specific global plots or manipulates particular events to further his goals," the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish anti-hate organization, states on its site. "Many of those conspiracy theories employ longstanding antisemitic myths, particularly the notion that rich and powerful Jews work behind the scenes, plotting to control countries and manipulate global events."

"Soros prosecutors" has become a canard on the right in the culture-war fight around policing and tough-on-crime policies. Conservatives, for example, recently targeted a Muslim prosecutor in Loudoun County, Virginia, in the lead-up to the state's gubernatorial election, alleging that her connection to Soros resulted in a school sexual assault cover-up.

The more recent right-wing claims, including one from Ohio-based Senate candidate J.D. Vance that "the Waukesha terrorist is just one of many criminals that Soros-backed prosecutors have released into our cities" and that his philanthropy has created "death and crime across America," are the latest in a trend of GOP fearmongering surrounding the incident.

Hours after the Sunday night incident, Fox News hosted Nigel Farage, a former British politician and Brexit leader, who connected the parade tragedy to the southern border and domestic terrorism, despite the case having nothing to do with immigration.

Tying the Waukesha driver to Democrats appears to be part of a broader attempt by conservatives to use crime as a cudgel against the left, alleging that high crime rates are a result of liberal policies to slash police budgets or admit immigrants and refugees into the country.

Crime has increased nationwide, but that rise has not been limited to Democratic-controlled regions. Numbers have ballooned as well in some cities that boosted police funding.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.