lunes, 29 de octubre de 2018

Republicans and Democrats Don’t Just Disagree About Politics. They Have Different Sexual Fantasies

In this political environment, it’s easy to look at Republicans and Democrats as having next to nothing in common. Regardless of the issue at hand, we see them as wanting completely different things—especially when it comes to issues of sex and sexuality.

From differences in the way they have approached the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to their views on abortion and same-sex marriage, Democrats and Republicans appear worlds apart.

It’s not just their public policy positions that seem to differ wildly, though.

According to the largest and most comprehensive survey of sexual fantasies ever conducted in the United States, it would appear that there are also political differences in our private sexual fantasies.

I surveyed 4,175 adult Americans from all 50 states about what turns them on and published the findings in a book entitled Tell Me What You Want. As part of this survey, participants were given a list of hundreds of different people, places and things that might be a turn-on. For each one, they reported on how frequently they fantasized about it.

I learned a lot about the nature of sexual desire in modern America, but one of the more intriguing things I uncovered was the political divide in our fantasy worlds.

While self-identified Republicans and self-identified Democrats reported fantasizing with the same average frequency—several times per week—I found that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to fantasize about a range of activities that involve sex outside of marriage. Think things like infidelity, orgies and partner swapping, from 1970s-style “key parties” to modern-day forms of swinging. Republicans also reported more fantasies with voyeuristic themes, including visiting strip clubs and practicing something known as “cuckolding,” which involves watching one’s partner have sex with someone else.

Why do Republicans seem to be drawn to non-monogamy and Democrats to power play in their sexual fantasies?

By contrast, self-identified Democrats were more likely than Republicans to fantasize about almost the entire spectrum of BDSM activities, from bondage to spanking to dominance-submission play. The largest Democrat-Republican divide on the BDSM spectrum was in masochism, which involves deriving pleasure from the experience of pain.

Why is that? Why do Republicans seem to be drawn to nonmonogamy and Democrats to power play in their sexual fantasies?

On the surface, it might be tempting to see this as revealing a fundamental difference in their sexual psychology. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that while some of the activities that turn Republicans and Democrats on appear vastly different, the underlying processes that drive our sexual fantasies may actually be the same. There’s far more that unites us than divides us when it comes to sexual desire.

What connects Republicans and Democrats, I believe, is that their fantasies are at least partly driven by what they can’t have. As I argue in Tell Me What You Want, the supersized sexual appeal that nonmonogamous and voyeuristic acts hold for Republicans likely stems from the fact that sex outside of marriage and multipartner sex are huge no-nos in a political party that continues to make “traditional marriage” one of the cornerstones of its official platform and regularly funnels federal funds toward abstinence-only sex education. Nothing makes us want to try something like being told you can’t do it. This is why taboos, no matter what they are, often become turn-ons.

This same instinct may also help to explain, in part, the appeal of BDSM to Democrats. Within the Democratic Party, much of what drives the political agenda is the view that inequality is the source of a wide range of social problems. This is regularly seen in the party platform, which recently made multiple mentions of the need to “level the playing field.” It’s not a stretch, then, to suggest that playing with power differentials—especially in BDSM settings, where women and men might not appear to be on equal footing and where the lines of sexual consent might not always be explicit—is taboo in many Democratic circles.

The appeal of the taboo stems from a long-standing principle of psychology known as reactance—which stipulates that when our freedom is threatened and we’re told we can’t do something, we want to do it even more. Many a parent has discovered this principle and used it to their benefit in shaping their children’s behavior through reverse psychology: Frame the desired act as something your child isn’t allowed to do and you just might get what you want.

To be sure, sexual fantasies have complex origins. They aren’t just a product of our political affiliation and what we’re told we can’t or shouldn’t do—there are myriad other factors that contribute to why we develop the turn-ons that we do. But my research suggests that politics certainly seems to play some role.

It’s also worth noting that, while the popularity of nonmonogamy and BDSM fantasies differ by political orientation, the rest of what we want—including specific sexual activities, partners and settings—is strikingly similar.

Whether we identify as Republican, Democrat, independent or something else, we’re not just turned on by taboos, but also by trying new and different things in general. For example, it’s human nature to be titillated by novelty, mixing up what we do, where we do it and whom we do it with. Most of us seek to meet a range of psychological needs in our fantasies, too, such as feeling desired, validated and competent. And the vast majority of us are fantasizing about our current romantic partners far more than we’re fantasizing about Hollywood celebrities, porn stars and politicians.

Incidentally, just about 1 in 10 Republicans and 1 in 10 Democrats reported ever having fantasized about a politician before. Among those who did, it’s worth noting that these fantasies sometimes involved reaching across the aisle, if you catch my drift. When presented with a list of 25 politicians, made up of 11 prominent Democrats and 14 prominent Republicans (as well as a write-in option, in case one’s preferred politician wasn’t represented), 17 percent of Republicans reported fantasizing about Democrats, while 27 pecent of Democrats reported fantasizing about Republicans.

Interestingly, the single most commonly fantasized-about politician among both parties was the same: Sarah Palin (though Republicans were much more likely to have Palin fantasies than Democrats).

Following Palin, the next most frequently mentioned politicians in Republicans’ fantasies were John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Nikki Haley. While, after Palin, Democrats fantasized about Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

(Note that my data were collected in 2014 and 2015 before the Trump presidency began and only into the early days of his campaign. At that time, I received only one fantasy about Donald Trump in the entire dataset.)

So, in this increasingly polarized political season, we should all take a moment to remember there’s at least one area where we’re more alike than we are different. If only Congress could be as bipartisan as we are in our sexual fantasies.

The long, painful end of Angela Merkel

The German chancellor needs the Social Democrats to stay in power — but they may not oblige her.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

How the mighty have fallen. Angela Merkel, the eternal chancellor of Germany, the uncrowned queen of Europe, took refuge Monday from her party’s catastrophic showing in state elections in Hesse in a tactical retreat.

Merkel’s calculus in assuming responsibility for her party’s dismal result — announcing that she would not seek reelection as chairwoman of the CDU, nor run again for the chancellorship — seems obvious: Pull back and dig in until the end of her fourth term.

But whether she clings on to the chancellorship until the end of her term in 2021 or is taken down by party rivals before then, the Merkel era is over.

Her Christian Democratic Party (CDU) lost 11 percentage points in Hesse, a cosmic drop by German standards, coming in at 27 percent. The party’s fate in the national opinion polls sharpens the disaster: The most recent survey gives the CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU 25 percent nationwide. It is a precipitous decline. The union, as the tandem is known, used to score in the mid to high forties, once even above 50 percent.

Merkel’s misfortune is only exceeded by the harder fall of her Social Democratic coalition partner. The SPD used to field such giants as Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt as chancellors in the 1970s and early 1980s, pocketing up to 48 percent of the vote. It is now down to 14 in the most recent poll.

But how can Merkel serve out her term heading a government that polls show has lost the confidence of the electorate?

The “grand coalition” of Christian and Social Democrats has turned into a very small one, commanding just 39 percent in recent surveys. If a general election were to take place today, it would be sent packing.

This calamity — unprecedented in post-war German history — casts doubt over the chances of success of Merkel’s tactical maneuver.

If she does manage to cling on until 2021, Merkel will have matched the record of her predecessor Helmut Kohl, who governed for 16 years. Only authoritarian rulers get to stay in power that long, the lonely democratic exception being Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died before completing his fourth term.

But how can Merkel serve out her term heading a government that polls show has lost the confidence of the electorate? Worse, how can she keep in check her SPD coalition partner, headed by Andrea Nahles?

SPD leader Andrea Nahles reacts as first exit polls are announced on public television during the state elections in Hesse at the SPD headquarters in Berlin

The SPD, once the voice of a rising working class, shares the fate of so many Social Democratic parties in Europe. Italy’s center left has shattered, while its French counterpart has shrunk into insignificance. As industry’s share of GDP has dwindled along with the old working class, so have the fortunes of the Social Democrats. These parties are also the victims of their own success. Whether on the left or right, all European parties are now committed to the munificent welfare state, and so the Social Democrats are losing their most valuable claim to popular allegiance.

Merkel, though, needs them badly to stay in power — and they may not oblige her. The left wing of the SPD believes the party can rejuvenate itself in opposition, pressing the moderate leadership to abandon Merkel. Defection, however, looks treacherous. There’s no evidence a sharp leftward turn would recapture the votes of yesteryear.

First, there is already a hard-left party in the German spectrum, the appropriately named Die Linke (the Left Party), which is good for about 10 percent of the vote. Then, there are the Greens, a semi-left shooting star sucking up 20 percent with a blend of environmentalist and welfarist policies. Whatever the SPD would eke out on the left would cost votes in the center, from where Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder vaulted into the chancellor’s office.

Second, the opposition gambit has been tried before, from 2009 to 2013, and it did not work. The SPD rose a bit from 23 to 25.7 percent — a far cry from the 34 scored in 2005. So the lack of power does not promise a surge in power.

Third, deserting Merkel will not necessarily bring her down. She may still be able to form an alternative coalition with the Free Democrats and the Greens, thus limping to the end of her fourth term. If that fails, Merkel could engineer snap elections. But that does not promise a shinier future for the SPD. Why would a party that has been trounced in every recent state election, as well as in the polls, suddenly rise from the ashes?

Merkel’s gambit may well give her three more years in office. She may be damaged and exhausted, but her strategic savvy and ruthlessness are not to be underestimated. The dozen or so intra-party rivals she has dispatched over the years are testimony to her uncanny talent for power politics.

That is the upside, shaky as it may be. The downside is obvious. Whenever the lead wolf is as wounded as is Merkel, the pack will sniff out opportunities to pounce. They might bring her down tomorrow or at the party convention in December. Or she might survive against the odds until 2021.

Either way, the age of Merkel is over. Like her towering Christian Democratic predecessors, Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, she has stayed on too long, missing that magic moment when she could have walked offstage in a blaze of glory. Now, she will slink off amid the mendacious accolades of those who once feted or feared her.

The ‘Nate Silver Effect’ Is Changing Journalism


Political journalism has become infatuated with opinion polls, and yet news organizations remain ill-equipped to make sense of the flood of data.


The near-year since Donald Trump’s surprise electoral victory has been filled with soul-searching and recriminations among those who research public opinion and those who write about it. A conversation around whether polls failed has hardened into two main camps: one blaming the data, the other blaming the media.

But this version of the debate misses the point. The problem isn’t simply flawed data or the media’s misuse of it; these problems cannot be separated. Political journalism has become infatuated with opinion polls—what some have called a “Nate Silver Effect”—and yet news organizations remain ill-equipped to make sense of the flood of data.

Aggregators and forecasting websites such as RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight, which attracted a combined 200 million visits in October 2016, have altered the way political reporters cover American politics, but among journalists and survey researchers, considerable ambivalence remains over whether these changes have, on balance, been for the better.

Several years before the 2016 election, I set out to better understand the changes in how news organizations were using opinion data by interviewing journalists, polling analysts and research practitioners across a range of institutions, including major national news outlets and private industry. Some of my findings were recently published online in the journal Journalism, and have considerable bearing on debates over what went wrong last year.

The shock results of 2016 were not an aberration. In talking with people who study and report on public opinion, it was apparent that there have been major shifts in how data are evaluated for quality and disseminated publicly. Even if the 2016 polls were not nearly as far off as their detractors sometimes assume (and they weren’t, at least if you compare national polling averages in the closing days of the 2016 race to Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote), methodologies are changing rapidly, newsroom resources are shrinking, and it has become easier than ever for anyone to sponsor their own junk survey, pass it off as social science and disseminate results to sympathetic audiences. (Much of the public already believes that this is what pollsters do: A Marist poll from March found that sixin 10 registered voters do not trust opinion surveys.)

And this is where the Nate Silver Effect gets complicated. Polls are popular fodder, but discretion when it comes to them is all too rare. The quality of the data underlying aggregators’ models is, in fact, more questionable than in the past. Was a new survey conducted using acceptable methodological rigor? Are assumptions about non-response and voting likelihoods defensible? Did question-wording or question-order put a thumb on the scale? Weighing these matters—let alone accounting for the vagaries of ordinary sampling error—requires a level of institutional knowledge and resources that most news organizations simply cannot afford.

Sites like FiveThirtyEight have drilled into readers the importance of averaging across polls as a corrective to people’s tendencies to “pick the poll numbers they like and disregard the rest,” as one reporter I interviewed put it. This very concern over outlier polls led this same reporter’s news organization to avoid citing individual poll results (“I always tell everyone I want to see three polls before I’ll quote them”). But in doing so, there’s a risk of learning the wrong lessons. Averaging across polls helps guard against some sources of error, such as those due to ordinary sampling error, but it does little to address the underlying problem of poor-quality data. It’s a garbage-in, garbage-out scenario: Averaging polls can be useful, but if the data being input are bad, then the averages will be tainted, too. In fact, in its postmortem on the performance of the 2016 polls, the American Association for Public Opinion Research found that the “large, problematic errors” observed in “key battleground states”—which fueled many forecasters’ overconfident models—were due in large part to a lack of high-quality state-level surveys in the final weeks of the race. Averaging using outdated or flawed data might have contributed to perceptions that Clinton’s lead was insurmountable.

Many reporters and editors have taken to heart the importance of paying appropriate attention to polling data when handicapping races or describing candidates’ chances, but parsing and dissecting data are rarely as straightforward as plugging numbers into an algorithm. It requires making judgment calls about a range of factors that are difficult to quantify. To his credit, Silver and his colleagues have tried to guide journalists with easily digestible tips for reading polls “like a pro” in an attempt to guard against the trap of false confidence, but the numbers themselves are often more compelling than the caveats.

Even in 2014 and 2015, I heard repeated concerns about whether the Nate Silver Effect on newsrooms might be causing some to embrace polling averages and forecasts as gospel, with election outcomes presumed to be preordained by the data weeks or months before votes are cast. One editor I spoke with blamed the “incessant desire of social scientists to pretend they’re physicists” when human behavior is “never going to be that precise.” But the expectation of “pinpoint” precision also comes with the territory; as one survey researcher pointed out: “If it’s a number, it’s precise—it’s $1.39; it’s 34 percent.” Ultimately, elections themselves are precise counts, creating a demand for decimal-point accuracy that no amount of aggregated survey data can responsibly offer.

This Nate Silver Effect is not merely a failure of interpretation, innumeracy or a misreading of probability, as Silver himself emphasized in an 11-part post-election series. Newsrooms do struggle with all of these things, but journalists are in the business of communicating, and as it turns out, it’s hard to characterize degrees of uncertainty without confusing an average reader. For example, one polling analyst I spoke with described having “fights with editors” over whether a “2-point lead” for one candidate constituted an actual lead, or a virtual dead heat due to normal polling error. Survey data are not newsworthy if all they ever suggest is that either candidate has a decent chance of winning.

To many of those I interviewed, a still more troubling development tied to the advent of the aggregators has been the media’s diminishing role as gatekeepers of opinion data. In an earlier era, leading media organizations established editorial standards intended to weed out shoddy polls from their coverage. Critics charge that these policies contributed to myopic coverage that focused only on polls sponsored by news organizations themselves, but standards differentiating between firms of ill-repute and those using sound and transparent methods were meant to guard against the reporting of dubious data. Now, forecasting and aggregator sites, with the aid of social media, have provided survey firms a powerful platform for reaching readers hungry for their results—often regardless of the firms’ rigor or reputation.

In effect, gatekeeping around opinion polls has quietly shifted away from legacy media newsrooms altogether and into the hands of the aggregators and forecasters. Even media organizations that continue to employ strict polling standards cited numerous examples in recent elections in which polls otherwise deemed unfit for coverage could not be ignored because they drove larger campaign news cycles. The tendency of aggregator sites to “throw everything in” without distinguishing among firms, as Iowa pollster Ann Selzer pointed out in a 2015 interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, has contributed to a culture where, generally, fewer are passing judgments about data quality and saying, “This is a bad poll; we’re not going to mention it.”

My own interviews echoed Selzer’s lament that few reporters are “doing the work of looking at the methodology.” Many instead professed to relying on “brand names” and personal relationships with pollsters as a proxy for data quality. One reporter at a leading national newspaper admitted, “If you wanted to hoodwink me and you had an institution and a trusted name behind it, you probably could.”

Many younger, more digitally minded journalists I spoke with did not even necessarily believe they should serve as gatekeepers of polling information: Information was likely to circulate one way or another online; better to be involved in the conversation than to be on the outside of it. “In a lot of ways, Twitter is our ombudsman,” one such reporter told me. “You just want to get stuff out quickly” and rely on readers to critique the data and help decipher its reliability. “We have left-wingers and right-wingers who follow us, and they’ll call us out.”

Others suggested there is real value in having these debates about polling methods out in the open. When faced with competing results from firms with differing methods or approaches, one analyst told me his news organization would seek to “make sure that the reader knew about all of them” while helping to “guide the readers to understand why these two polls differ and which one we think may be … more accurate.” Or as another analyst put it, “It’s like with sources, I mean some of them are sketchy, and that’s true with polls, too. You know, we quote people sometimes who are sketchy people who have agendas. And still we quote them saying, ‘Look, this is a kind of sketchy dude, and he has a dog in this fight. And this is what he says.’” (A more senior reporter maintained a different view: “If you doubt the data, why would you tweet it? Why would you use it in any way, shape or form?”)

Polling has exploded even as the media has become less equipped to process it and convey it accurately. According to one estimate, by the end of 2012, more than 1,200 unique firms and institutions had conducted 37,000 separate public opinion polls in the United States, mostly since the 1990s. By my count, that number ballooned to 48,600 by the end of 2016. Yet many newsrooms now lack the expertise to evaluate and analyze raw polling data, particularly the underlying weighting and modeling assumptions employed, which can significantly shift results. While some organizations maintain a small team of staffers to plan and coordinate surveys and write up results, the process of sampling, fielding and analyzing survey data no longer occurs in-house at any American news organizations. As one pollster said, “In this explosion of data, the irony is the resources to make sense of it aren’t there.”

Some cash-strapped newsrooms continue to fund expensive, in-depth telephone surveys using trained, live interviewers—once the undisputed gold standard in opinion research. But these polls are becoming rarer amid declining response rates, rising cellphone use and a yawning cost differential with online surveys. While some internet pollsters have notched impressive results, the statistical models they use to compensate for unrepresentative samples often remain shrouded in secrecy, making it difficult even for experts to distinguish between them—much less journalists. These complications make the explanatory journalism offered by sites such as FiveThirtyEight that much more valuable, but it’s their forecasts and the numbers (71.4 percent!) that get all the attention.

It’s not just pollsters and journalists who have a problem when people lose trust in survey research—the rest of us do, too. While the conversation over the media’s use of data has centered narrowly around horse-race coverage, polls remain among the most valuable tools available to systematically gauge public opinion and make it matter—to give all segments of the public an equal chance to state their preferences concerning how the country ought to be governed. Fair or not, the perceived failure of the polls in 2016 makes it that much easier for elected officials to dismiss and ignore the public’s expressed concerns altogether—a result that should worry all Americans.

domingo, 21 de octubre de 2018

Social Media Bots Draw Public’s Attention and Concern

While most Americans know about social media bots, many think they have a negative impact on how people stay informed

Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, many Americans have expressed concern about the presence of misinformation online, particularly on social media. Recent Congressional hearings and investigations by social media sites and academic researchers have suggested that one factor in the spread of misinformation is social media bots – accounts that operate on their own, without human involvement, to post and interact with others on social media sites.

This topic has drawn the attention of much of the public: About two-thirds of Americans (66%) have heard about social media bots, though far fewer (16%) have heard a lot about these accounts. Among those aware of the phenomenon, a large majority are concerned that bot accounts are being used maliciously, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted July 30-Aug. 12, 2018, among 4,581 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel (the Center has previously studied bots on Twitter and the news sites to which they link). Eight-in-ten of those who have heard of bots say that these accounts are mostly used for bad purposes, while just 17% say they are mostly used for good purposes.

To further understand some of the nuances of the public’s views of social media bots, the remainder of this study explores attitudes among those Americans who have heard about them (about a third – 34% – have not heard anything about them).

While many Americans are aware of the existence of social media bots, fewer are confident they can identify them. About half of those who have heard about bots (47%) are very or somewhat confident they can recognize these accounts on social media, with just 7% saying they are very confident. In contrast, 84% of Americans expressed confidence in their ability to recognize made-up news in an earlier study.

When it comes to the news environment specifically, many find social media bots’ presence pervasive and concerning. About eight-in-ten of those who have heard of bots (81%) think that at least a fair amount of the news people get from social media comes from these accounts, including 17% who think a great deal comes from bots. And about two-thirds (66%) think that social media bots have a mostly negative effect on how well-informed Americans are about current events, while far fewer (11%) believe they have a mostly positive effect.

While the public’s overall impression of social media bots is negative, they have more nuanced views about specific uses of these accounts – with some uses receiving overwhelming support or opposition. For example, 78% of those who have heard about bots support the government using them to post emergency updates, the most popular function of the nine asked about in the survey. In contrast, these Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to the use of bots to post made-up news or false information (92%). They are also largely opposed to bots being used for political purposes and are more split when considering how companies and news organizations often use bots.

Most Americans have heard about social media bots; many think they are malicious and hard to identify

By Galen Stocking and Nami Sumida

Amid the ongoing debate about the role of bots on social media, about two-thirds of Americans (66%) have heard at least something about social media bots – defined in this survey as accounts that operate “on their own, without human involvement, to post and do other activities on social media sites.” But very few pay close attention: Just 16% have heard a lot about social media bots. And roughly a third of the public (34%) has heard nothing at all about these types of accounts.

While most Americans have heard about them, the debate about social media bots has not reached all corners of the public at the same rate.

Younger Americans are much more likely than older adults to have heard about social media bots. About three-quarters of Americans ages 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 (78% and 76%, respectively) have heard of bots, compared with 58% of those ages 50 to 64 and about half of those 65 or older (49%). The same pattern holds when comparing how much they have heard, with younger Americans more likely than their elders to have heard a lot or some about bots.

There are also differences in familiarity by education and, to a lesser extent, by party affiliation. About three-quarters of Americans with a college degree (78%) have heard of social media bots, compared with 55% of those with only a high school education. In addition, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to have heard about social media bots (72% vs. 61%, respectively).
Many see bad intentions behind social media bots and find them difficult to identify

Amid the larger debate about misinformation and bots on social media, the public largely views bots negatively. An overwhelming majority of those who have heard of bots (80%) say that these accounts are mostly used for bad purposes, while just 17% say that bots are mostly used for good purposes.

This broad consensus is consistent across demographic groups. For instance, roughly eight-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents as well as Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who have heard of bots suspect they are primarily used for malicious purposes (84% and 78%, respectively). Similarly, even though younger people are more likely to have heard of bots, there is broad agreement across age groups about their intended purpose: About eight-in-ten Americans in each age group who have heard about bots believe they are mostly used for malicious purposes.

Not only does the public generally have a negative view of social media bots, but few Americans have a lot of confidence in their own ability to detect them. About half of those who have heard of bots (47%) are very or somewhat confident that they can recognize them, and just 7% are very confident. About four-in-ten (38%) are not very confident, and 15% say they are not at all confident. This stands in contrast to the confidence Americans had in their ability to detect made-up news: In a December 2016 survey, 84% of Americans were very or somewhat confident in their ability to recognize made-up news.

Younger Americans are more likely than older adults to be at least somewhat confident they can recognize social media bots. Six-in-ten adults ages 18 to 29 who have heard of these accounts are at least somewhat confident they can recognize them, compared with about half or less for older age groups.

Many believe at least some of the news on social media comes from bots and that these accounts have a negative impact on how the public stays informed

While social media bots can be used for many different purposes, much of the public discussion has been about their use in the spread of news. The public seems to have taken notice, and many believe at least some of the news Americans get on social media comes from bots.

About eight-in-ten of those who have heard of bots (81%) think these accounts are responsible for at least a fair amount of the news Americans get on social media, though fewer (17%) think a great deal comes from bots. (A previous Pew Research Center study of more than 100,000 tweeted links to 50 popular news websites found that 59% of those shared links were suspected to be from bots.)

And, just as Americans are concerned about bots generally, many in the public perceive bots’ involvement in the news to be negative, at least when it comes to how well-informed the public is about the news. About two-thirds of those who have heard about social media bots (66%) say that these accounts have a mostly negative effect on how well-informed Americans are about events and issues in the news. In contrast, only 11% believe bots have a mostly positive effect, and about two-in-ten (21%) say they do not have much of an effect.

What’s more, those who think bots are responsible for a sizable portion of the news on social media are also more likely to think bots have a negative impact on keeping the public informed. Among those who say at least a fair amount of news on social media comes from bots, about seven-in-ten (72%) say that bots negatively impact how well-informed Americans are about the news, compared with 11% who say bots have a positive impact and 17% who say they have no impact.

Not many differences emerge across demographic groups, with broad agreement that at least a fair amount of the news Americans see on social media comes from bots and that bots have a negative effect on how well-informed Americans are.

Americans express nuanced views of many common uses of social media bots

Although social media bots largely have a negative connotation among the public, certain uses of bots seem to be more acceptable than others. Those who have heard about bots were asked about a mix of nine ways that social media bots are used. Topping the list of supported uses: government agencies using bots to post emergency updates. About eight-in-ten of those who have heard about bots (78%) find this practice to be acceptable.

On the flip side, there is solid opposition to an organization or individual using bots to share false information, with 92% of those who have heard of bots saying this is not acceptable. Strong majorities also oppose a celebrity using bots to gain more social media followers (67%) and a political party using bots to share information that favors or disfavors one candidate (75%). When it comes to an issue-based group using bots for a political purpose – to draw attention to a specific topic – opposition is not as strong as to a political party using bots, though more people still find it unacceptable (57%) than acceptable (42%).

The public is more split for the remaining uses. At least half of those who have heard about social media bots find the two business-related uses acceptable: businesses using bots to promote products (55%) and respond to customers’ questions (53%). Similarly, the public is about evenly split on whether news organizations’ use of bots to post headlines or news stories is acceptable or not (50% find it acceptable and 49% find it unacceptable). And when it comes to an individual using bots to share pictures or quotes, about equal shares of those who have heard of bots find it acceptable (48%) as unacceptable (50%).
The more Americans know about bots, the less likely they are to find several of their uses to be acceptable

Americans who have heard more about social media bots are less likely to be supportive of a number of their uses.

This is true for the two politics-related uses. Those who have heard a lot about bots are 10-percentage points less likely than those who have heard some or not much about bots to say an issue-based group using bots to draw attention to a specific topic is acceptable (34% and 44%, respectively). Similarly, those who have heard a lot about bots are less supportive of a political party using bots to share information that favors or disfavors one candidate, compared with those who haven’t heard as much about bots (19% and 25%, respectively).

Awareness about social media bots also influences views on two uses that help people or organizations promote themselves. For instance, a business using bots to promote its products is considered acceptable by 45% of those who have heard a lot about bots, compared with 58% of those who have heard less about them – a 13-point gap. And there is a 9-point gap when it comes to a celebrity using bots to get more social media followers.

2018 Midterm Voters: Issues and Political Values

Huge partisan divides on health care, immigration, U.S. global role

Supporters of Republican and Democratic candidates in the upcoming congressional election are deeply divided over the government’s role in ensuring health care, the fairness of the nation’s economic system and views of racial equality in the United States.

And these disagreements extend to how the U.S. should approach allies and whether or not other countries “often take advantage of the United States.”

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Sept. 18-24 among 1,754 adults, including 1,439 registered voters, finds wide differences in the views of Republican and Democratic voters across 13 different issues and policy areas, though the size of the partisan gaps vary.

An overwhelming majority of registered voters who support Democratic candidates for Congress this November (85%) say that it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. In contrast, only a quarter of Republican voters (24%) say this is the government’s responsibility, while nearly three times as many (73%) say it is not. (For more on Americans’ views of the government’s role in providing health care, see “Most continue to say health care coverage is government’s responsibility”.)

The partisan gaps on many of these values and issues are in line with those seen in previous Pew Research Center reports, including in last year’s major report on trends in the public’s political values. That study found that the partisan gaps across a number of political values – especially on race and immigration – have widened over the past decade. In the new survey, 85% of Democratic voters say the country needs to continue to make changes to give blacks equal rights with whites, compared with 29% of Republican voters.

There also are significant gaps on views of whether abortion should be legal, the factors that make people rich and poor and the fairness of the U.S. economic system.

Two specific Trump-era policies – increased tariffs between the U.S. and its trading partners, and the 2017 tax bill – are viewed much more positively by GOP voters than by Democratic voters. Overall views of the tax law remain largely unchanged from early this year: In the new survey, 78% of voters who support the GOP candidate in their district approve of the tax law, compared with just 11% of Democrats.

And the partisan differences are about as wide in views of the Trump administration’s decision to increase tariffs on imported goods from a number of countries. Nearly three-quarters of GOP voters (72%) say increased tariffs will be good for the United States, about five times the share of Democratic voters who support higher tariffs (14%).

Looking at voters’ priorities for immigration policy, there is some common ground among partisans. When asked whether the policy priority should be “creating a way for immigrants already here illegally to become citizens if they meet certain requirements,” or “better border security and stronger enforcement of our immigration laws” – or whether both should be given equal priority – nearly half of Republican voters (48%) and about as many Democratic voters (45%) say both should be given equal priority.

Still, far more Democratic voters (49%) than Republican voters (11%) say the priority should be on creating a way for those in the U.S. illegally to become citizens if they meet certain conditions. By contrast, far more Republican voters (39%) than Democratic voters (5%) say the focus should be on better border security and enforcement.

(For more on how voters view the importance of immigration, health care, taxes, trade and other issues, see “Voter Enthusiasm at Record High in Nationalized Midterm Environment.”)
Shifting priorities for dealing with illegal immigration

Since 2016, the share of adults in the general public who say border security should take priority over creating a way for those in the country illegally to become citizens has decreased. Two years ago, about a quarter (24%) said stronger law enforcement should be the priority for dealing with illegal immigration. Today, about two-in-ten (19%) say this.

During that same period, the share who prioritize creating a pathway for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship has increased modestly – from 29% in 2016 to 33%.

A plurality (46%) continue to say that both of these should be given equal priority.

Today, significantly more Republicans say both border security and legal pathway should be given equal priority (48%) than say the priority should be border security (38%), a shift from recent years.

About half of Democrats and Democratic leaners (51%) now say creating a way for immigrants who are currently here illegally to become citizens should be prioritized – the largest share saying this since the question was first asked in August 2010; 43% say border security and a pathway to citizenship should be given equal priority. Just 5% say border security should take the higher priority.

There are large demographic differences within the general public on priorities in dealing with illegal immigration.

Women are much more likely to prioritize a legal pathway to citizenship than men (40% to 27%).

Though a plurality of whites say both should be equally prioritized, whites (23%) are far more likely than blacks (6%) and Hispanics (9%) to say better border security should take priority.

About half of Hispanics (47%) say a pathway for legal citizenship should be the priority, while 43% say both should be equally prioritized. Among blacks, 53% say both should be equal priorities, while 37% say the priority should be creating a way for those in the country illegally to become citizens.

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to prioritize stronger law enforcement, while Democrats are more likely to prioritize a path to citizenship for those currently in the U.S. illegally.
Americans’ views of relationships with other nations

A majority of Americans (55%) continue to say that the U.S. should take into account the interests of its allies in foreign policy, even if it means making compromises with them. Fewer say the U.S. should follow its own national interests, even when its allies strongly disagree (38%).

Since 2017, the public has become slightly less likely to say compromising with allies is preferable (59% then, 55% now). This downtick is also more in line with opinions measured in years prior to 2017.

As was true a year ago, Republican and Democratic views differ. Currently, a 38-percentage-point gap separates partisans on whether the U.S. should take into account the interests of allies – one of the largest partisan gaps measured in the past 15 years.

On balance, more adults say that other countries often take unfair advantage of the U.S. (51%) than say that other countries treat the U.S. about as fairly as we treat them (42%). In the 1990s, Americans were much more likely to view other countries’ treatment of the U.S. as unfair than they are today.

When the question was last asked nearly two decades ago, 70% said that other countries take advantage of the U.S. while just 24% said that other countries treat the U.S. with mutual fairness.

These changes are largely attributable to a shift in views among Democrats and Democratic leaners. In 1999, about two-thirds of Democrats (68%) said other countries often take unfair advantage of the U.S.; just 28% say that today. By comparison, 80% of Republicans now say that other countries take unfair advantage (up from 73% in September 1999). As a result, today there is a wide divide between Republicans and Democrats in these views, when there had been little partisan difference in the 1990s.

Among both parties, there are ideological divisions in these views. Conservative Republicans are more likely than moderate and liberal Republicans to say there is unfair treatment (85% to 67%, respectively). Liberal Democrats are more likely than conservative or moderate Democrats to say other countries treat the U.S. fairly (75% vs. 57%).
Opinions on tariffs, tax bill little changed

Overall, the public continues to say that increased tariffs between the U.S. and its trading partners – first imposed by the Trump administration earlier this year – will be bad for the country.

In July, roughly half of the public said they thought increased tariffs would be bad for the U.S. Today, a similar share also says this (53%).

Partisans continue to hold opposing views on this policy; 70% of Republicans say they think tariffs will be good for the U.S. Conversely, nearly eight-in-ten Democrats (79%) say they will be bad for the U.S.

Nine months after passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, views of the sweeping tax law are little changed. More say they disapprove (46%) rather than approve (36%) of the law; about two-in-ten adults (18%) do not offer an opinion either way.

Americans with family incomes of $75,000 or continue to more offer more positive views of the law than those with lower incomes. Among Americans with annual family incomes of less than $75,000, the balance of opinion is negative (48% disapprove, 31% approve), while views of those with higher incomes are more divided (49% approve, 41% disapprove).

Partisan views of the bill are also similar to those measured just after its passage: 72% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they approve of the tax legislation, compared with just 12% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

Republicans are somewhat divided along ideological lines. A 79% majority of conservative Republicans say they approve of the bill, while a narrower majority (61%) of moderate or liberal Republicans say the same. Among Democrats, there are no significant differences in these views by ideology.

miércoles, 17 de octubre de 2018

Many Around the World Are Disengaged From Politics

But could be motivated to participate on issues like health care, poverty and education

A woman votes at a polling station during an Indonesian regional election in June.

An engaged citizenry is often considered a sign of a healthy democracy. High levels of political and civic participation increase the likelihood that the voices of ordinary citizens will be heard in important debates, and they confer a degree of legitimacy on democratic institutions. However, in many nations around the world, much of the public is disengaged from politics.

Survey conducted in 14 countries

Argentina Kenya
Brazil Mexico
Greece Nigeria
Hungary Philippines
Indonesia Poland
Israel South Africa
Italy Tunisia

Source: Spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey.

To better understand public attitudes toward civic engagement, Pew Research Center conducted face-to-face surveys in 14 nations encompassing a wide range of political systems. The study, conducted in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as part of their International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), includes countries from Africa, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Because it does not represent every region, the study cannot reflect the globe as a whole. But with 14,875 participants across such a wide variety of countries, it remains a useful snapshot of key, cross-national patterns in civic life.

The survey finds that, aside from voting, relatively few people take part in other forms of political and civic participation. Still, some types of engagement are more common among young people, those with more education, those on the political left and social network users. And certain issues – especially health care, poverty and education – are more likely than others to inspire political action. Here are eight key takeaways from the survey, which was conducted from May 20 to Aug. 12, 2018, via face-to-face interviews.

Most people vote, but other forms of participation are much less common. Across the 14 nations polled, a median of 78% say they have voted at least once in the past. Another 9% say they might vote in the future, while 7% say they would never vote.

With at least 9-in-10 reporting they have voted in the past, participation is highest in three of the four countries with compulsory voting (Brazil, Argentina and Greece). Voting is similarly high in both Indonesia (91%) and the Philippines (91%), two countries that do not have compulsory voting laws.

The lowest percentage is found in Tunisia (62%), which has only held two national elections since the Jasmine Revolution overthrew long-serving President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 and spurred the Arab Spring protests across the Middle East.

Attending a political campaign event or speech is the second most common type of participation among those surveyed – a median of 33% have done this at least once. Fewer people report participating in volunteer organizations (a median of 27%), posting comments on political issues online (17%), participating in an organized protest (14%) or donating money to a social or political organization (12%).

Health care, poverty and education are the top motivators for political engagement. When asked what types of issues could get them to take political action, such as contacting an elected official or participating in a demonstration, people in 13 of 14 countries rank poor health care as either their first or second choice among the issues tested. Many also place poverty and poor-quality schools among the top two issues. Overall, people are somewhat less likely to say the other issues tested could inspire them to take action. One exception is free speech, which is the top motivating issue in Nigeria and in the top two in Italy and Poland (where it is tied for second with police misconduct).

Young people vote less often. In 10 of the nations polled, people ages 50 and older are more likely than 18- to 29-year-olds to say they have voted in at least one election. The gap between the oldest and youngest respondents who have voted is more than 40 percentage points in Tunisia and South Africa, and it is more than 20 points in Mexico, Poland, Greece and Kenya.

But young people are more likely to participate online. Those ages 18-29 are more likely than older adults to post comments online about social or political issues in 12 of the 14 countries surveyed. For example, 36% of Poles ages 18-29 have posted their views online, compared with only 4% of those 50 and older.

Young people are also more motivated by a variety of issues. Freedom of speech is a good example – in 10 countries, 18- to 29-year-olds are more likely than people 50 and older to say they would take political action on the issue of free speech. In Brazil, 73% of adults under 30 say they could be motivated to get politically involved over free speech, compared with 39% of those 50 and older. Young people are also more likely to take action around the issue of discrimination in 10 countries, and notable age gaps are also found on poor-quality schools, police misconduct, poverty, government corruption and poor health care.

There is a strong link between education and political participation. In 13 nations, those with more education are more likely to post their views online.1 In seven nations, they are more likely to have donated money to a political or social organization. And in six countries, they are more likely to participate in a political protest. Roughly three-in-ten Brazilians with higher levels of education (29%) have participated in a protest, compared with just 8% among those with less education.

People with more education are also consistently more likely to be motivated by certain issues. This is especially true regarding free speech: In 11 countries, people with higher levels of education are more likely to say they could be motivated to take political action on free speech issues. Poverty is the one issue where there are relatively few differences between those who have more education and those with less education.

Social networking usage is linked to greater engagement on issues. People who use online social networking sites are particularly likely to take political action across the full range of issues included on the survey. For instance, in 13 of 14 countries, people who use social networking sites are more likely than those who don’t to say they might take political action on the issue of free speech. As a group, social networkers tend to be younger and more educated than those who do not engage in social networking.

In some cases, people on the political left are more likely than those on the right to take action. In eight of the countries in the study, respondents were asked to place themselves on a left-right ideological scale. In several countries, those who put themselves on the left side of the political spectrum are more likely to take part in protests and be motivated to participate by the issues of free speech and police misconduct. Israel stands out as a country where ideological differences are especially common – every issue tested is more motivating to those on the left than to those on the right. Fully 63% of Israelis on the political left, for example, say they would likely take political action on the issue of discrimination, compared with just 33% of those on the right.

lunes, 15 de octubre de 2018

China’s middle class surges, while India’s lags behind

China and India: How Many Lived on How Much in 2001 and 2011
Share of China’s and India’s population that lives on a given level of income

In 2011, the income distribution in China appeared distinct from the income distribution in India. The shares of people living on more than $5 per day were much greater in China. Meanwhile, 31% of people in India lived on $3 per day, compared with only 13% in China.
Note: Income (or consumption) is expressed in 2011 purchasing power parities in 2011 prices. The height of the bars shows the share of the population that lives on $0-1, $1-2, and so on. Incomes beyond $50 daily per person are not shown because of the small shares of the populations that live on those budgets. For example, less than 1% of China’s population lived on more than $50 per day in 2011.

Source: Pew Research Center analysis of data from the World Bank PovcalNet database (Center for Global Development version available on the Harvard Dataverse Network)

China and India both succeeded in slashing poverty in the decade from 2001 to 2011. But while that contributed to a rapidly growing middle class in China, it did little to increase the number of Indians who could be considered middle income, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.

From 2001 to 2011, the share of Chinese who are middle income jumped from 3% to 18%. But the share of Indians who are middle income was almost unchanged, inching up from 1% in 2001 to 3% in 2011, the latest year for which data are available.

Shanghai’s gleaming skyline and the ubiquitous “Made in China” tag are among the visible symbols of this economic divide. According to International Monetary Fund data, China is now the world’s largest economy, producing 16% of all goods and services, whereas India accounts for only 7%. As recently as 1991, China and India each accounted for about 4% of global output. The two Asian neighbors, while both demographic giants, appear to be on different trajectories.

The Pew Research study, which covered 111 countries, divided people in China and India into five income groups: the poor (who live on $2 or less daily), low income ($2.01-10), middle income ($10.01-20), upper-middle income ($20.01-50), and high income (more than $50). These figures are expressed in 2011 purchasing power parities and 2011 prices. In annual terms, the middle-income range translates to an income of $14,600 to $29,200 for a family of four.

The one shared achievement between the two countries was their success in cutting the poverty rate. From 2001 to 2011, the poverty rate in China fell from 41% to 12% and the poverty rate in India dropped from 35% to 20%. That moved 356 million Chinese and 133 million Indians out of poverty, or 489 million people in total. This is almost three-quarters of the number of people that emerged from poverty globally.

China was more successful than India in pushing its population closer to a middle-income lifestyle. The transition out of poverty resulted in an increase in low-income Chinese, with their share in the population rising from 57% in 2001 to 66% in 2011. But the share of middle income grew by even more, from 3% to 18%. Also, the share of China’s population that is upper-middle income or high income climbed from less than 1% to 5%.

By contrast, the transition out of poverty in India mainly resulted in an increase in the share of its low-income population, from 63% in 2001 to 77% in 2011. The middle-income share rose only from 1% to 3%, and about 1% of India’s population is estimated to have had an upper-middle-income or high-income standard of living in 2011.

China has pulled away from India in part because it initiated economic reforms in the late 1970s, more than a decade before India launched its own reforms in 1991. China’s economic reforms are also seen as deeper and more far-reaching, resulting in superior trade and investment outcomes.

But this is not necessarily unmitigated good news for China. Research shows that rising prosperity in China is going hand-in-hand with rising inequality. There is also concern about a stock market bubble in China and what it might mean for the country’s near-term economic future.

On the other hand, there is guarded optimism that India may push further forward economically under its new government. Other estimates of the size of India’s middle class suggest that it may account for between 5% and 10% of its population. (Although these estimates use the same $10 threshold for entry into the middle class as the Pew Research study, they extend it to encompass people living on as much as $50 per day and also draw on other data sources.) But for the moment, a sizable gap remains between the economies of China and India.

Key facts about Latinos in the 2018 midterm elections

Latinos vote at a polling station in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles.

More than 29 million Latinos are eligible to vote nationwide in 2018, making up 12.8% of all eligible voters – both new highs, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

The pool of eligible Hispanic voters has steadily grown in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018, an additional 4 million Hispanics became eligible voters (U.S. citizens ages 18 and older). Much of this growth has been driven by young U.S.-born Hispanics coming of age. Since 2014, around 3 million have turned 18. Other sources of growth include Hispanic immigrant naturalizations – among Mexicans alone, 423,000 became U.S. citizens from 2014 to 2017 – as well as residents of Puerto Rico moving to one of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, especially Florida.

Explore the data

Explore interactive maps and tables showing key characteristics of Latino voters and overall eligible voter population in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in 414 of the nation’s 435 congressional districts.

Here are key facts about the Latino vote in 2018:

1The Latino voter turnout rate in midterm elections has declined since 2006. In 2014, the turnout rate among Latino eligible voters dropped to a record low of 27.0%. (White and Asian eligible voters also had record-low turnout rates.) Despite this, a record 6.8 million Latinos voted.

Young Latinos have contributed to this low voter turnout. In 2014, just 16.0% of eligible Latinos ages 18 to 35 voted, compared with 36.2% of Latinos 36 and older. At the same time, younger Latinos make up a large share of the Hispanic electorate. About 43.5% of all Hispanic eligible voters in 2018 are 18 to 35 years old, compared with 30.6% of all U.S. eligible voters. Hispanics also account for a significant share of young eligible voters nationwide. Hispanics make up about a fifth (18.1%) of all U.S. eligible voters ages 18 to 35, but just 10.4% of eligible voters ages 36 and older.

2About seven-in-ten (71%) Hispanic eligible voters live in just six states in 2017 – California (7.7 million), Texas (5.4 million), Florida (3.0 million), New York (2.0 million), Arizona (1.1 million) and Illinois (1.0 million). Hispanics make up the highest share of all eligible voters in New Mexico (42.6%), followed by California (30.0%), Texas (29.8%), Arizona (23.4%) and Florida (19.8%).

3Though most Hispanic eligible voters are concentrated in just a few states, their numbers have grown quickly in many states across the country. From 2014 to 2017, North Dakota saw a 32.4% increase in the number of Hispanics eligible to vote, the largest percentage increase in the nation (the state’s overall Hispanic population has also grown in recent years). South Carolina (30.1%), Oregon (28.8%) and North Carolina (28.2%) have also had large increases in Hispanic eligible voters during this time.

4There are 176 congressional districts with at least 50,000 Latino eligible voters in 2017, and they contain nearly 80% of all Latino eligible voters. In one California district and three in Texas, Hispanics make up at least three-quarters of all eligible voters: California’s 40th District (81.0%) and Texas’ 34th (79.3%), 16th (76.5%) and 15th (75.1%). All four districts have Democratic incumbents. Texas’ 20th District, which covers part of San Antonio, has 357,000 Hispanic eligible voters, the most of any congressional district in the nation.

5Latinos make up a small share of eligible voters in Southern states, even though these states have experienced some of the fastest Latino population growth in the country. Only about a third of Latinos living in Kentucky (36.1%), Georgia (34.8%), Arkansas (34.6%), Alabama (33.9%), North Carolina (33.2%) and Tennessee (32.0%) are eligible to vote.

6A number of congressional districts in the South saw the fastest growth of Latino eligible voters in the country. North Carolina’s 8th District saw the nation’s largest increase (163.2%) in Latino eligible voters between 2014 and 2017. The next five districts with the largest growth during this time are Florida’s 6th (up 110.3%), North Carolina’s 5th (71.3%) and Florida’s 16th (70.5%).

sábado, 13 de octubre de 2018

Why Young Men of Color Are Joining White-Supremacist Groups

Patriot Prayer’s leader is half-Japanese. Black and brown faces march with the Proud Boys. Is the future of hate multicultural?

Arun Gupta

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

PORTLAND, Oregon—Outfitted in a flak jacket and fighting gloves, Enrique Tarrio was one of dozens of black, Latino, and Asian men who marched alongside white supremacists in Portland on Aug. 4.

Tarrio, who identifies as Afro-Cuban, is president of the Miami chapter of the Proud Boys, who call themselves “Western chauvinists,” and “regularly spout white-nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Last month, prior to the Patriot Prayer rally he attended in Portland, Tarrio was picturedwith other far-right activists making a hand sign that started as a hoax but has become an in-joke. Last year, Tarrio said traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the Unite the Right rally that ended with a neo-Nazi allegedly killing an anti-fascist protester. (The Proud Boys said any members who went to the event were kicked out.)

Tarrio and other people of color at the far-right rallies claim institutional racism no longer exists in America. In their view, blacks are to blame for any lingering inequality because they are dependent on welfare, lack strong leadership, and believe Democrats who tell them “You’re always going to be broke. You’re not going to make it in society because of institutional racism,” as one mixed-race man put it.

If racism doesn’t exist, I ask Tarrio, how would he explain the disproportionate killing of young black men by police? “Hip-hop culture,” he says. It “glorifies that lifestyle… of selling drugs, shooting up.” Because of that, “Obviously you’re going to have higher crime rates. Obviously you’re going to have more police presence and more confrontations.” (Police kill black males aged 15 to 34 at nine times the rate of the general population.)

Elysa Sanchez, who is black and Puerto Rican, attended the “Liberty or Death Rally Against Left-Wing Violence” in Seattle on Aug. 18, joining about 20 militiamen open-carrying handguns and semi-automatic rifles.

Sanchez says, “If black people are committing more murders, more robberies, more thefts, more violent crime, that’s why you would see more black men having encounters with the police.”

Also in Seattle, Franky Price, who said he is “black and white,”wore a T-shirt reading, “It’s okay to be white.”

They are among nearly a dozen black, Latino, and Asian participants at far-right rallies on the West Coast interviewed by The Daily Beast recently. They represent the new face of the far right that some scholars term “multiracial white supremacy.”

The Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, which overlap, embrace an America-first nationalism that is less pro-white than it is anti-Muslim, anti-illegal immigrant, and anti-Black Lives Matter. “Proud Boys is multi-racial fraternity with thousands of members worldwide,” a lawyer for the group’s leader, Gavin McInnis, said in a statement. “The only requirements for membership are that a person must be biologically male and believe that the West is the best.”

Daniel Martinez HoSang, associate professor at Yale University, co-author of the forthcoming Producers, Parasites, Patriots: Race and the New Right-Wing Politics of Precarity, says “Multiculturalism has become a norm in society” and has spread from corporations and consumer culture to conservatism and the far-right.

Indeed, Patriot Prayer’s leader is Joey Gibson, who is half-Japanese and claims Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a hero. But his agenda is the opposite of King’s. Gibson’s rallies have attracted neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis.

His right-hand man is Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, a 345-pound Samoan American who calls himself “a brown brother for Donald Trump” and is notorious for brawling. By bringing diversity to what is at heart a white-supremacist movement, people of color give it legitimacy to challenge state power and commit violence against their enemies.

David Neiwert, author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump, says, “The ranks of people of color who show up to these right-wing events are totally dominated by males.” He says the alt-right targets white males between the ages of 15 and 30 with a message of male resentment, which ends up attracting black, Latino, and Asian men as well.

Neiwert says many young men of color in the far-right grew up on conservative traditions common in minority communities. Their journey to the far-right has been enabled by the ease of recruitment in the internet age and the endorsement of extremism by Trump.

Entry points to the far-right include male-dominated video-game culture, the anti-feminist gamergate, troll havens on 4chan and 8chan, and the conspiracism that flourishes on websites like Infowars. Libertarianism is another gateway.

“A lot of these young guys,” Neiwert says, “especially from the software world, who are being sucked into white nationalism, start out being worked up about Ayn Rand in high school.”

Andrew Zhao, 25, a software engineer, says his parents, physicists who emigrated from mainland China, “are Trump fans.” He found out about the Seattle rally from Reddit and Facebook and said, “We need more patriotism. A lot of liberals don’t like America.”

“A lot of these young guys, especially from the software world, who are being sucked into white nationalism, start out being worked up about Ayn Rand in high school.”
— David Neiwert

Daniel HoSang says some people of color are drawn to the far-right because they “identify with the military, with nationalism, with patriotism, with conservatism.”

Wearing a Proud Boys hat, David Nopal, 23, came to the Seattle rally alone, like others. Nopal, whose parents crossed illegally from Mexico, said, “I’m very patriotic. The U.S. isn’t perfect, but we are a hell of a lot better than other countries.”

Sanchez comes from a military family. “They all love America. It’s a big part of the reason I’m a patriot.”

Similarly, Tarrio attributes his anti-socialist politics to his grandfather’s experience in Cuba under Fidel Castro.

They proudly identify as “American” without modifiers. In their America they’ve never experienced racism. They eagerly talk politics, but evidence of their America is scant beyond the internet. Institutional racism has been ended by affirmative action, “black privilege,” and equal protection under the law. Any remaining black inequality is caused by social welfare and liberal policies. In any case, it was Democrats who started the Klan.

People of color within the far-right play a role that “excuses white racism and bears witness to the failure of people of color,” HoSang says, adding that they make “white supremacy a more durable force.”

HoSang said the far-right is trying to broaden its appeal from a whites-only movement in a multiracial America, so it is “laying claim to the ideas of anti-racism, racial uplift, and civil-rights progress.”

HoSang says, “It’s hard for people to wrap their head around how Dr. King and civil-rights language are being used to legitimate positions approaching fascism and violence to restore hierarchy and order. But they are.”

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with a statement from the Proud Boys and to clarify that the group formally opposed the Charlottesville march.

There's Been a George Soros for Every Era of Anti-Semitic Panic

From Russia to Hungary to, now, Donald Trump’s America, a rising authoritarianism plays on an atavistic European hatred. We live in the Soros Age of Anti-Semitism.

Spencer Ackerman

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

It’s been largely forgotten, but when Russian military intelligence created online cutouts in 2016 to manipulate the American electorate, the Democratic Party wasn’t its only target.

The most prominent of those fake digital identities was Guccifer 2.0, which took credit for hacking the Democratic National Committee and then provided the pilfered information to WikiLeaks. The other was called DCLeaks. On Aug. 29, 2016, two months after the DNC hack became public, DCLeaks’ now-banned Twitter account told its followers to check out another of its projects: “Find Soros files on”

Visitors to the now-shuttered site could find purported documents from the billionaire philanthropist’s Open Society Foundations, which promote liberal values and democratization. They had file names like “public health program access to medicine” and “youth exchange my city real world.” But before those curious about the leaks got there, the Russians wanted to put George Soros in a particular context.

The homepage displayed a photo illustration of a smug-looking Soros in the midst of four scenes of street chaos whose apparent perpetrators were conspicuously nonwhite. They were taken from the Ferguson, Missouri, protests in 2014, the birthplace—to the consternation of many white Americans whom the Kremlin sought to cultivate—of the contemporary civil rights movement. In both the image and the accompanying text, the Russians portrayed Soros as the puppet master.

“Soros is named as the architect and sponsor of almost every revolution and coup around the world for the last 25 years. Thanks to him and his puppets USA is thought to be a vampire, not a lighthouse of freedom and democracy,” the website proclaimed. The “oligarch” who sired the U.S. vampire, and whose “slaves spill blood of millions and millions people just to make him even more rich” [sic], had a particular background the Russians highlighted in the very first sentence: Soros is “of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry and holds dual citizenship.”

More than two years later, the president of the United States gave a similar portrayal of Soros, though Trump left Soros’s background unsaid. Soros, Trump said on Friday, Oct. 5, had paid for “professionally made identical signs” in the hands of women objecting to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court justiceship. On Tuesday, he followed up by implying that Soros had stiffed these hired “screamers.” In Trump-like fashion, his accusations were a form of mirror-imaging, as Trump himself had paid for people to support his presidential announcement and denied them payment for months, and he appears to have misunderstood a Fox News guest who spoke sarcasticallyabout Soros paying the protesters.

But it was not Trump’s first time making sinister allegations about Soros. He did so in the final advertisement from his campaign, run at the time by the blood-and-soil nationalist Steve Bannon. Its message was reminiscent of the darker periods of European history: the virtuous future of the forgotten, salt-of-the-earth people has been stolen by a predatory elite. As a shot of the Capitol Dome faded into a Wall Street sign, Trump narrated a message to “those who control the levers of power in Washington” right as the camera showed an image of Soros, giving way to a shot of then-Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen, who is also Jewish, as Trump continued speaking about “global special interests.” This followed months of the so-called alt-right transforming “globalism” into an anti-Semitic euphemism, and preceded Trump stocking his cabinet with ultra-rich financiers, Jew and gentile alike.

In the 1980s and 1990s, George Soros was hailed as an anti-communist and post-communist hero. His philanthropy helped smooth democratic transitions from the Soviet orbit in central and Eastern Europe. Alongside that track record was a different one: Soros was a ruthless currency speculator who benefited from, among other things, the 1992 British financial disaster and who once blithely dismissed second thoughts over the world-moving power of his investments, saying, “I am engaged in an amoral activity that is not meant to have anything to do with guilt.” In a 60 Minutes interview from 1998—one that Glenn Beck would famously butcher to paint Soros, who as a boy lived through Nazi occupation, as a Nazi collaborator—Jim Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, remarked that Soros was “Donald Trump without the humility.”

The current portraiture of Soros, now ascendant if not dominant online, isn’t interested in that sort of complexity. For the far right, from Russia to central Europe and increasingly, America, Soros is the latest Jewish manipulator whose extreme wealth finances puppet groups and publications to drain the prosperity of the Herrenvolk. This cannot be dismissed as the preoccupation of ignorable fools on the internet, nor as the equivalent of liberal criticism of the Koch Brothers. Instead, the attack on Soros follows classic anti-Semitic templates, grimly recurrent throughout western history, and some of the most powerful geopolitical figures in the world are pushing it. It’s fueled by Soros’s political activism against a revanchist right eager to view the world in zero-sum racial terms that is on the march across Europe, America and beyond.

“The attack on Soros follows classic anti-Semitic templates, grimly recurrent throughout western history, and some of the most powerful geopolitical figures in the world are pushing it.”

Other Jewish bogeymen may haunt the fever dreams of the vicious, but the scale and intensity of the attacks on Soros are unrivalled. They reveal what the global nationalist right believes is at stake in this present moment. We may one day look back on this era as the Soros Age of anti-Semitism.

“It’s important to distinguish between intent and effect. Of course a person who shares a conspiracy theory about George Soros may not intend to promulgate anti-Semitism, and of course not every Soros conspiracy theory is anti-Semitic. But the image of the rich, powerful Jew who manipulates social and political movements around the world for his own agenda is an ancient anti-Semitic trope,” said Aryeh Tuchman, the associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.

“Because Soros’s Jewish identity is so well known, we are concerned that conspiracy theories about George Soros may have the effect of reinforcing this trope and spreading it throughout the broader population,” Tuchman added. “This is especially true when other anti-Semitic tropes are woven in, such as claims that Soros controls the media or the banks, or when he is described using terms that harken back to medieval claims that Jews are evil, demonic, or agents of the Antichrist.”

There will always be this sort of tentacular George Soros figure. There have been many before. One was said to have profited off the bloodshed at Waterloo.

Thirty years after the pivotal battle capping the end of the Napoleonic Wars, a pamphlet circulated across Europe claiming that Nathan Rothschild, a London banker and scion of the Jewish mega-financier family, sped from the battlefield to parlay his insider knowledge of the French defeat into a windfall on the London stock exchange. “This family,” charged an author writing under the nom de plume “Satan,” “is our evil genius.”

It was the fake news of its era. Nathan Rothschild was never at Waterloo. He died five years before the pamphlet’s publication in 1841, leaving him unable to rebut it. But the lie, after a series of adjustments to explain away its baseline factual mistakes, would reach escape velocity. One subsequent version, according to Brian Cathcart of Kingston University London, claimed Rothschild “deliberately provoked a collapse in stock market confidence by encouraging rumors that Wellington had been defeated.”

Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836), from a painting. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)


The form of conspiracy theories follows their function. Here was a Jewish family whose fortune was said to derive from exploiting European carnage. As Jews, they were considered a foreign presence on the continent, one that had taken advantage of their adopted countries’ naive openness to establish a shadowy power that could determine the fate of nations. Accordingly, European publics would not have to look to their distant autocratic governments for their political disenfranchisement, nor would they have to look to a confusing system of capitalist finance to explain obscene discrepancies in wealth. In place of a systemic critique was a Jewish face. More recently, you can find Rothschild references in the QAnon conspiracy theory, alongside, of course, Soros.

A recurrent theme of 19th-century anti-Semitism is that it finds substantial currency at moments when old regimes appear exhausted and fear about revolutionary dislocation intensifies. A tutor to Russia’s final two tsars demonstrated the utility of using Jews as an omnibus explanation for the anxieties of his age. Jews in Russia endured repression of their civil and economic rights—but they only appeared powerless.

“Yids,” wrote Konstantin Pobyedonostsev in August 1879, have “invaded everything, but the spirit of the times works in their favor. They are at the root of the Social Democratic movement and tsaricide. They control the press and the stock market. They reduce the masses to financial slavery. They formulate the principles of contemporary science, which tends to disassociate itself from Christianity. And in spite of that, every time their name is mentioned, a chorus of voices is raised in favor of the Jews, supposedly in the name of civilization and tolerance, that is to say, indifference to faith. And nobody dares say that here the Jews control everything.” Like many before and since, Pobyedonostsev did not pause to reconcile his claimed Jewish interest in exploitative capitalism with his claimed Jewish interest in the socialism designed to destroy it, but a man like George Soros offers Pobyedonostsev’s descendants a way to square the circle.

After Rothschild, there was Max Warburg. Warburg, another Jewish banker, was a member of the Hamburg parliament and said to have an open line to Kaiser Wilhelm II. Once Pobyednostsev’s fears came true in 1917, a forgery about Warburg appeared in Petrograd claiming that he and a “Rhenish-Westphalian syndicate” were financing the Bolsheviks, through the Jewish Trotsky.

A Russian journalist, Eugene Semyonov, provided the forgery to an American diplomat, Edgar Sisson. It had currency for the Creel Committee, an official U.S. government propaganda organ promoting participation in World War I, since it portrayed the Russian Revolution as a German plot financed by Jews. In September 1918, the committee published it under the title The German-Bolshevik Conspiracy. Leon Poliakov writes in the fourth volume of his History of Anti-Semitism that it was the first time that an anti-Semitic forgery was published by a government that was neither tsarist nor otherwise committed to anti-Semitism as a matter of policy. (Warburg himself, 20 years later, would immigrate to New York to flee the Nazis.)

According to Poliakov, the years between the world wars were a boom time for anti-Semitic forgeries in the United States. There was the fake George Washington missive, warning that the Jews, not the British Army, were the principal danger. And there was a fake Ben Franklin prophesy, forecasting Jewish world domination by 1950 or so. Detectives hired by the anti-Semitic industrialist Henry Ford traveled to Mongolia, of all places, in pursuit of an authentic Hebrew copy of the invented Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Another went “looking for the secret channel through which [Supreme Court Justice and Jew] Louis Brandeis gave his orders to the White House.”

Foreshadowing the present day, the upswing of American anti-Semitism came at the intersection of an immigration panic, an ascendant nativist movement, and fears about foreign-borne internal subversion. As the Bolshevik Revolution spread, so did a cottage industry of paranoiacs connecting it to mainstream American Jewry, just as a later generation of Islamophobes would do to American Islam after 9/11. In 1919, a Methodist minister recently driven from Russia, the Rev. George A. Simons, testified to a Senate subcommittee about the Jewishness of Bolshevism.

Simons, speaking through barely concealed euphemism, told the Senate that he had encountered “hundreds of agitators” in the former St. Petersburg who had come from “the East Side of New York,” meaning the Jewish slum. The typical sentiment of Russians to describe the post-revolutionary arrangement, Simons related, was that “it is not a Russian government, it is a Hebrew government.” But, Simons assured the Senate, he was no bigot: “I am not in sympathy with anti-Semitism. I never was and never will be. I hate pogroms of any type. But I am firmly convinced that this business is Jewish.”

Vladimir Putin and the global nationalist right have particular motivations to vilify Soros, though deploying anti-Semitism to do it is entirely their choice.

Soros was deeply involved in post-Soviet economic efforts in Russia in the 1990s, corresponding with the nadir of Russian power that Vladimir Putin considers a national humiliation demanding redress. And though he’s denied doing any such thing, Russians have long speculated that Soros profited off a Russian economic downturn in 1998, a year during which he boasted of being Russia’s largest single investor. (His Quantum Fund claims to have lost $2 billion from the episode.) Prophetically, Soros warned Charlie Rose in 1995 of revanchist eastern-European authoritarianism born of an alliance between nationalist politicians and business interests: “Russia is very much up for grabs. It’s very much a struggle which way it’s going to go.”

Soros’s solution to all of this is liberalism. He took his inspiration from the anti-totalitarian philosopher Karl Popper, best known for The Open Society and Its Enemies, and used Popper’s work to develop a critique of the rapacious capitalism Soros himself practiced as a threat to that open society—conveniently, after he had made his billions. Soros’s Open Society Foundations, which operate in over 140 countries, provide assistance and financing to civil-society institutions that promote transparency, the rule of law, higher education, refugee aid, the rights of marginalized peoples, and democratic accountability.

Accordingly, recipients of Soros’s philanthropy include groups such as NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU that in their various ways oppose the agendas of the American right. In 2003, Soros pledged what would for anyone other than him count as a fortune in a failed attempt to prevent George W. Bush’s re-election, fanning the flames of his enemies’ ire. Then, in October 2017, the elderly Soros transferred a gargantuan $18 billion to the foundation, making it the U.S.’ second largest philanthropic organization.

But it’s one thing to be a wealthy donor, even an unfathomably wealthy one: American politics, to its cross-ideological abasement, relies upon them, and scrutiny of them is vital for the very open societies Soros promotes. It’s quite another for such an unfathomably wealthy donor to stand as a singular, nefarious explanation for all manner of global political phenomena. A recent ADL study about anti-Semitism on Twitter took particular note of the frequency and virulence of invocations of Soros for “undermin[ing] western civilization, or following a long-standing pattern of Jewish behavior.” The ADL even found far-right warnings that Soros had engineered the lethal white-supremacist march on Charlottesville as a false-flag operation.

After the teenage survivors of the Parkland high school massacre began their demonstrations for gun control, some let the mask slip. One now-suspended “alt-right” account tweeted that it was “@georgesoros at work.” Softer versions of that sentiment are ubiquitous online. One more humorous version came after someone posted a picture of a bald Britney Spears attacking a car during her 2007 meltdown to joke that it was Parkland’s Emma Gonzalez – prompting an apparently elderly woman to tweet that “these children of Satan… are funded by Soros.” At an “alt-right” gathering in New York convened by Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, drunken panelists referred to Soros as the “head of the snake.”

Larger players in the “alt-right” firmament, echoing their 19th- and 20th-century antecedents, find the malevolent handiwork of Soros everywhere. WikiLeaks, on Twitter, sought to discredit 2016-era reporting in the Panama Papers concerning Vladimir Putin by portraying it as Soros-funded. Bannon’s former home for distorted news, Breitbart, ran a cottage industry connecting far-right targets to Soros, no matter how innocuous the connection. In a typical piece, H.R. McMaster’s consultancy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies – a minor thing, considering it overlapped with McMaster’s Army career – became “Soros-funded” through a IISS affiliation with the nuclear-nonproliferation Ploughshares Fund. Google and Facebook were hit with similar Breitbart smears-by-association through their sins of using credible organizations like the Poynter Institution, which take Open Society money, to reduce the onslaught of fake news. InfoWars similarly highlights Soros money taken by its critics to paint itself as unfairly persecuted.

In keeping with the broader trajectory of the extreme right, the paranoid conception of Soros has moved closer to the corridors of power. In December, the GOP nominee for Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, castigated Soros in terms redolent with anti-Semitism. Soros’s agenda was “sexual” in nature, said a man accused of child predation, and it’s “not our American culture.” Soros, Moore told a radio host, “comes from another world that I don’t identify with. … No matter how much money he’s got, he’s still going to the same place that people who don’t recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going.”

“Soros’s agenda was ‘sexual’ in nature, said Roy Moore, a man accused of child predation. Soros ‘comes from another world that I don’t identify with. … No matter how much money he’s got, he’s still going to the same place that people who don’t recognize God and morality and accept his salvation are going.’”

That same month, Erik Prince, brother of Trump’s education secretary and mercenary CEO, encouraged a GQ reporter to investigate the Clintons’ sartorial choices of purple shirts and ties. “Purple Revolution lore,” the wealthy Prince told GQ. “I think it’s a Soros thing.” (There is no such thing as the Purple Revolution.) A Prince associate and former CIA official, the Intercept reported last year, told would-be donors that McMaster used a burner phone to route the fruits of deep-state surveillance on Bannon and the Trump family to “a facility in Cyprus owned by George Soros.”

More recently, after the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, Senator Chuck Grassley stopped just short of validating the accusation that Soros had paid for those protesting Kavanaugh. “I believe it fits in his attack mode that he has, and how he uses his billions and billions of resources,” said the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee. Even Rudy Giuliani on Saturday retweeted someone who called Soros the “anti-Christ.” The “evil genius” that “Satan” concocted in 1841 had found its 2018 incarnation.

Nowhere has the attack on Soros been more geopolitically potent, or as clarifying, as in his native Hungary.

The Hungarian strongman prime minister Viktor Orban, for months ahead of his April reelection, united anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to portray Soros as the string-puller behind a transformational Islamic invasion of Syrian migrants. Whereas some Soros opponents mumble through their anti-Semitism, Orban roars it. Soros is out to deal “a final blow to Christian culture,” Orban charged in November. “It’s Soros’s plan for America, too. PM Orban’s view is deeply well informed & reasoned,” the racist Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King said in December while quote-tweeting an account that used the Soros photo illustration from the DCLeaks page.

In a March pre-election speech, Orban put Soros and immigration in existential terms for Hungary. He pledged to expel Soros as the Hungarians did previous remote tyrannies from the Ottomans to the Hapsburgs to the Soviets. And he applied anti-Semitic tropes not seen from a European leader since Hitler.

“We are fighting an enemy that is different from us,” Orban said, per a New York Times translation. “Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world.” Even a previously sympathetic writer, National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty, said the speech read like “a checklist drawn from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Perhaps it’s worth noting that Orban himself received a Soros-funded scholarship to Oxford. But it was not the only irony in this ugly episode. To its discredit, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu wilfully averted its eyes from Orban’s anti-Semitism. Billboards in Hungary last year promoted Orban’s anti-immigrant agenda by using a photo of a smiling Soros to warn Hungarians against letting him get “the last laugh.” Yossi Amrani, the Israeli ambassador, posted on Facebook that the campaign sowed “sad memories”—an apparent allusion to Hungary’s complicity in genocidal anti-Semitism—and “hatred and fear.”

Yet the Israeli foreign ministry undercut its own diplomat. It insisted it had no intent to “delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel's democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.” That followed on Israel opting to accept official assurances against anti-Semitism after Orban called Miklós Horthy—Hitler’s Hungarian ally whose expulsions of Hungarian Jewry led to the slaughter of half a million people in the Holocaust—an “exceptional statesman.”

An Israeli journalist, Mairav Zonszein, contextualized the toleration of anti-Semitism within Netanyahu’s broader alignment with right-wing nationalist governments “if it will bolster the Greater Israel movement.” This appears to be an allusion to Soros’s funding of Israeli groups such as B’tselem and Breaking The Silence, which challenge the brutal Israeli treatment of Palestinians, an internal criticism that Netanyahu and his allies cannot abide. Netanyahu, who postures as the protector of diaspora Jewry when it suits him, had tacitly collaborated with an anti-Semite to turn a Hungarian-born Jew into a metaphorically stateless person.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after making joint statements at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Israel.

This spring, Orban’s government criminalized the assistance of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants through what it called the “Stop Soros” laws. Ahead of its passage, the Open Society Foundations announced that it would cease operations in Budapest and transfer its local staff to Germany. In July, Netanyahu hosted Orban in Jerusalem and declared him a “true friend of Israel.”

Calculations like Netanyahu’s underscore the ascendancy and the purpose of the global far right. From Russia to America and beyond, the open society is on its back foot against an assault not seen since the 1930s. The assaulters are far from finished. Whereas the previous generation of European nationalists wanted to marginalize the European Union, the current one seeks to take it over. Orban and his Italian ally, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, are crusading on an anti-immigration platform ahead of spring’s European Parliamentary elections. They’re joined, on the outside, by Steve Bannon, who dreams of a pan-European nationalist bloc and styles himself, as he told The Daily Beast’s Nico Hines, a counterweight to the version of George Soros so thoroughly cultivated for the reactionary European, Russian and American imagination.

Soros would not talk for this article. But the Open Society Foundations’ communications director, Laura Silber, called the attacks on him “a tribute,” as his philanthropy “strikes at the interests of autocrats, oligarchs and corrupt politicians” and supports human dignity.

“The voices that are loudest in speaking out against George Soros are those that are authoritarian, seeking to galvanize their bases and consolidate power, ignoring or silencing the most vulnerable,” Silber told The Daily Beast. “They’re doing it by circulating recurrent tropes. The billboards that the Hungarian government put up were eerily similar to World War II propaganda, and it’s telling that they were defaced with swastikas and hateful epithets.”

“The voices that are loudest in speaking out against George Soros are those that are authoritarian, seeking to galvanize their bases and consolidate power, ignoring or silencing the most vulnerable.”
— Laura Silber

The U.S. has been better to and for Jews than any other diaspora nation in history. It’s for that reason that many American Jews, particularly those whose white skin affords them access to the highest levels of the American Dream, often diminish the dangers posed by a mass movement comfortable, wittingly or not, with creating a Jewish scapegoat for its political frustrations. There is also a powerful Jewish collective instinct to avoid calling attention to empowered anti-Semitism for fear of provoking it to violence.

Nearly a century ago, as anti-Semitic propaganda backed by powerful white Americans like Henry Ford proliferated, an American Jewish lawyer and civil-rights leader urged his fellow Jews to confront it. “Events have shown that the policy of silence was a mistake. Not only do Ford’s articles appear every week with undiminished virulence, but worse, the Protocols is distributed in every club, placed in every newspaper,” wrote Louis Marshall in 1921. “It has been received by every member of Congress and put in the hands of thousands of personalities. It is the topic of conversation in every living room and in every social sphere.”

Eighteen years later, 20,000 Nazi supporters filled Madison Square Gardento preach their vision of an American Reich. It would not be long, across the Atlantic, before much worse unfolded.

“I’m concerned that the prevalence of conspiracy theories about Soros which paint him as a larger than life, powerful figure has the effect of shrinking that public space where anti-Semitism is not acceptable,” said the ADL’s Tuchman. “If you have fully embraced the notion that there is a powerful Jewish figure manipulating social and political movements around the world to promote his agenda, you’re inching toward the edges of that space where anti-Semitism is acceptable. Soros is a liminal figure in that way.”