A Republican representative for Texas met a barrage of criticism on Thursday after he accused Democratic donor George Soros of turning against “fellow Jews” and assisting in the expropriation of their property.
Representative Louie Gohmert brought up a once widespread conspiracy theory about the Hungarian-born billionaire’s ethnicity, while starting his speech on Fox Business Network with the widely covered story regarding the tech giant Google and its reported involvement in devising a search engine for China.
"Google is born in a free country and then they go over and oppress others, help oppress in another country", Gohmert said, shortly after moving on to something else:
"You mention [George] Orwell", he added, thereby digressing from the topic. "That reminds me of another George. George Soros is supposed to be Jewish but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he’s inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they own".
"Holy crap", one Twitter user posted, whereas another said to pay no attention to a GOP member repeating “vile slander”.
“No big deal”, another one chimed in on the social network, remarking, tongue-in-cheek, that one of those conspiracy theorists or theory believers might have directed mail bombs at the prominent Democrats in the run-up to the midterms.
Meanwhile, the well-known fact-checking website Snopes deemed the conspiracy theory about Soros, which circulates on the internet from time to time, to be "false". The theory suggests that Soros collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two, though he was only 14 years of age at the time the Germans occupied Hungary, in 1944.
"Abhorrent that a sitting Congressman propagated debunked Soros conspiracies", the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted shortly after.
"Rep. Gohmert should retract his remarks immediately. This rhetoric is common in extreme far-right circles & perpetuates anti-Semitism", the ADL added, posting a link to their website attempting to bust a number of false claims regarding Soros, namely theories that depict him as a greedy and covetous Jewish man.
Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney later on Thursday chose to distance the network from Gohmert's comments, saying the aired speaker’s views are not shared by the media outlet and the program, in particular.
It is not the first time that Fox News has been implicated in a scandal surrounding Soros’ name. Fox Business dropped a guest in October, who blamed the contentious migrant caravan on the “Soros-occupied State Department”.