While there is palpable anger on streets in United States of America over the killing of George Floyd, there is an equal and opposite reaction on social media coming from the right wing. Amidst direct criticism of the vandalism that has been part of Black Lives Matter protests, the Right has also been entertaining some conspiracy theories as to who is behind these.
One man who has constantly drawn the ire of the conservative media and activists is the billionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros. Known for providing generous financial support to liberal causes, now the octogenarian is at the center of a spade of conspiracy theories that depict him as a sinister puppet-master orchestrating the ongoing fracas.
Photoshopped images and false information has been used to suggest that the 89-year old businessman has been paying the protesters and providing them logistical support. Due to him being Jewish, a streak of anti-Semitism is also part and parcel of these attacks.
So, why does Soros face so much of opprobrium from the American right? Why has he become their cherished target? Well, there are five possible reasons that can be identified for the great antipathy that the conservatives have for the Hungarian-American.
Support to liberal causes
Traditionally, billionaires and top businessman have been regarded as big supporters of right-wing politics. The belief in less regulation and tax cuts that is characteristic of conservative economic policies attracts such people to this side of the political aisle. Soros, however is an exception. Not only is he a supporter of liberal causes, he is also very keen on supporting them monetarily.
It would be very unfair to regard every right-leaning critic of Soros as anti-Semitic. But when the attacks on him are analysed, it is clear that an element of it exists. While this may not be the motivation behind more substantial criticisms of the 89-year old, many fringe elements on social media are quite open in attacking his racial identity.
Distrust in institutions
One of the unique features of the current conservative fraternity in US politics is the widespread distrust of government institutions. The idea that there is a 'swamp' in Washington that ought to be 'drained' played a key role in Donald Trump's election. Obviously, a man as financially strong as Soros and as influential as him is going to be seen as part of this 'swamp.'
Views on cultural issues
One would think that a man who survived the Holocaust and also battled Communism through his endeavors would be regarded as a hero by the conservative intelligentsia. However, Soros' commitment to an 'open society' has taken him towards supporting things like same-sex marriage. Such stands do make him more unpopular with the right.
This may be the least powerful reason why the American right distrusts Soros but still one that may be an important contributing factor. Even though he is a naturalized American, the billionaire hedge fund investor spent his formative years in Europe. Perhaps, that also colours the views of his critics.