Far Right Still Spreading Conspiracy That Inspired Synagogue Shooter
Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
In the month since a far-right gunman massacred 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue, seemingly driven by a conspiracy theory that Jews were orchestrating an invasion of the United States by migrants, this deadly false narrative has continued to spread as a talking point on right-wing platforms.
The alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, used social media site Gab (a “haven for white nationalists”) to post a derogatory statement about Jewish refugee-resettlement organization HIAS. He accused the organization of bringing “invaders” into the U.S. before unleashing his deadly attack against those worshipping inside the Tree of Life synagogue. And when he was captured, he claimed Jews were “committing genocide” of his people. Since the deadly incident, rhetoric accusing Jews of committing so-called “white genocide” by supporting immigration into the United States seems to continue to proliferate unchecked.
This week, a Twitter account called @InvasionPlot cropped up and began posting photos and names of Jewish scholars, journalists, student activists, and public officials, among others, and highlighting the individuals’ pro-immigrant and pro-refugee views. The Twitter bio says “this didn’t happen by accident,” and the account garnered thousands of followers before it was suspended.
Sociologist Philip N. Cohen noted that after he was targeted by the account, his mentions were swamped with neo-Nazis and anti-Semites:
this my mentions getting nazi-ratioed https://t.co/4E9H4mgnlp
— Philip N Cohen (@familyunequal) November 29, 2018
The Twitter account’s emergence is far from an isolated incident. The false narrative that Jews are orchestrating an invasion of migrants to alter demographics is tightly linked to sensationalized news coverage of a caravan of migrants and asylum-seekers currently situated in Tijuana, Mexico. On the white supremacist message board Stormfront, a user postulated that immigration is a Jewish plot to murder “innocent White Children.”
Posts on Gab, the forum the alleged synagogue shooter used, continue to assert that the migrant caravan is controlled by Jews and that Jews are orchestrating an “invasion of Europe” by Muslim immigrants.
But the conspiracy theory has not remained confined to the extremist right, or to the fringes of the internet. On Gab, users have attempted to pin the purported plot behind the caravan on Jewish philanthropist George Soros.
Similarly, on right-wing media, the same tactic has continued to spread, with President Donald Trump elevatingthis anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in October. On November 13, Ami Horowitz, a guest on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, speculated that “Soros is part” of the carvan, noting that “this whole thing cost millions and millions of dollars.”
And on November 16, NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton laid out the conspiracy theory in stark terms: “It didn’t take a whole lot … to find a pretty direct link between George Soros money and the people in the caravan getting fed.”
Despite clear evidence that this very conspiracy theory already inspired a massacre, the false notion that Jews are orchestrating an “invasion” of the United States doesn’t seem to be disappearing from right-wing media — and it may inspire violence again.
Header image by Melissa Joskow / Media Matters