George Soros is a former hedge fund investor who has spent billions of his fortune on philanthropic causes. But to many conservatives, the frequent Democratic donor is a sinister liberal puppet-master who has funded everything from the protests surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation to the migrant caravan currently making its way through Mexico to the southern border. Though there is no evidence Soros has any connection to the caravan, on Monday an explosive device was found in the mailbox of his home in Bedford, New York. “An employee of the residence opened the package, revealing what appeared to be an explosive device,” the police said in a statement. “The employee placed the package in a wooded area and called the Bedford police.”
Soros was not home at the time the device was found, and the bomb squad was able to “proactively detonate” it, according to officials who spoke with the New York Times. The Bedford Police Department has turned the case over to the FBI.
The scare comes as right-wing conspiracy theorists speculate that Soros has in some way funded the procession of close to 7,000 migrants that originated in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Last Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) posted a video of migrants being handed single bills of currency. Though he claimed the video was shot in Honduras, he later posted a correction that the scene actually took place in Guatemala. “Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!” the congressman wrote. A day later, President Trump tweeted the same video, writing, “Can you believe this, and what Democrats are allowing to be done to our Country?”
Can you believe this, and what Democrats are allowing to be done to our Country? pic.twitter.com/4aDpASkjIU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2018
Luis Assardo, a Guatemalan journalist who spoke with the Times, said that merchants in the city where the video was shot told her that they offered migrants food, clothing and money, and migrants have said they were not paid to join the caravan. Gaetz later told the Times that he now believes that it was the cartel handing out money, and that in posting the video he was just asking questions.
That’s all it takes, though. Trump ran with the theory that the caravan was the doing of Democrats, and is now speaking at rallies about how liberal money is funding the caravan. “A lot of money has been passing to people to come up and try and get to the border by Election Day, because they think that’s a negative for us,” Trump said in Montana on Thursday, the same day he posted the video. “They have lousy policy. The one thing, they stick together, but they wanted that caravan and there are those that say that caravan didn’t just happen. It didn’t just happen. A lot of reasons that caravan, 4,000 people.”
The idea that Soros or other liberal forces are funding the caravan has continued to spread throughout right-wing media. Again, there is absolutely no evidence to support this, and the idea that liberal activists have orchestrated a 7,000-person exodus of migrants to illegally infiltrate the United States and vote Democrat on November 6th is too absurd to entertain seriously. Nevertheless…
Garbage fake news like this, which of course I found on Facebook, has real world consequences. It's gotta stop. pic.twitter.com/LQryLVCUIL
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) October 23, 2018
Though Trump claims Democrats feel the caravan would “be a negative” for Republicans, this hasn’t been the case. With the midterms barely two weeks away, the thousands of migrants closing in on the border has dominated news coverage, while actual issues like health care have fallen out of focus. This has allowed the president to double down on what got him elected in 2016: fear. As a Washington Post report published Monday night laid out, Trump has eschewed touting his accomplishments in favor of painting a dystopian picture of what he wants people to believe life in the United States would be like if Democrats were in power. The migrant caravan couldn’t have materialized at a better time for this strategy. Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, called the caravan a “political gift” while speaking to the Post. “I wish they were carrying heroin,” he said. “I wish we had thought of it. It speaks to the dearth of our creativity, unfortunately,” Bennett said. “There are 7,000 people marching toward the U.S. border. One party wants to let them in. The other party wants to keep them out.
As with the 2016 election, the strategy seems to be working, at least to a certain extent. A survey conducted in August by Grinnell College found that 52 percent of Republicans falsely believe that undocumented immigrants commit more violent crimes than the general population, and Trump’s doomsday rhetoric regarding the caravan has only exacerbated this falsehood. The Times even spoke to a woman in northern Minnesota who is concerned that a migrant gang could take over a local community of summer lake homes. “What’s to stop them?” she told the paper.
— Kevin Robillard (@Robillard) October 23, 2018
Very little of what Trump has said about the caravan is actually true. There is no evidence corroborating his claim that it was funded or in any way fueled by Democratic interests. On Monday, he tweeted that the caravan contains “unknown Middle Easterners,” of which there is also no evidence. When asked by reporters Monday afternoon if there was any basis for the claim, Trump told them to “go into the middle of the caravan, take your cameras and search.” The president has also repeatedly alleged that the caravan is filled with “bad people” and “hardened criminals” looking to bring “DRUGS” across the border. Though this is the operating idea behind his fear-mongering, there’s not real evidence to support this, either, and pictures released of the caravan mostly depict families fleeing crime and oppression in their home countries. When asked by Times reporter Emily Cochrane to provide evidence that the caravan is ridden with criminals, Trump scoffed. “Oh please, please, don’t be a baby,” he said.