The right rails against George Soros to distract from its own US and Russian funding

The right rails against George Soros to distract from its own US and Russian funding

When both conservatives and the far right attack those on the left they inevitably fall back to criticism of the latter’s funding. Civil society groups and NGOs who’ve received financial backing from the far right’s boogeyman George Soros, and his Open Society Foundations (OSF), are regularly accused of being the philanthropist’s puppets. The conspiracies are as overplayed as they are stupid. 

They’re also a modern rehashing of the antisemitic conspiracy theories of old in which Jewish people are attempting to undermine our societies for their own assorted and generally nefarious purposes. “George Soros the globalist” is modern shorthand for the Jewish agenda in conspiracist and extremist circles.

Deflecting from the hypocrisy

But it would appear that some spread these talking points in order to deflect from issues surrounding the funding of their own favoured groups. Take John McGuirk’s Gript. A mouthpiece for the Irish alt-right, the website and McGuirk himself often rail against the funding of NGOs with Soros coming in for particular attention. A quick search of the website returns dozens of articles in which the Hungarian philanthropist is variously accused of undermining the courts, freedom of speech, and financially supporting a crackdown on civil liberties in Ireland. Groups that have received grants from his foundations are also given plenty of attention with their accounts being proof of a wider liberal conspiracy with Soros at the head of the snake.

Of course, the funding of groups and individuals cut from the same ideological cloth as Gript is of no interest to McGuirk and company. It can’t be because it would reveal the hypocrisy of raging against the supposed influence of foreign money behind liberal causes when the right is guilty of worse still. Many an article on Gript has made reference to the Iona Institute and its director, David Quinn. But no mention has ever been made of Iona’s finances and the fact that some of it was the result of a Russian money laundering operation. Nor has there been reference to the far-right Novae Terrae Foundation through which the dirty money was channeled to Iona. To be fair to Gript, none of the mainstream outlets have picked up on it either. 

Ironically, Quinn has published many a tweet about Soros’ funding of various pro-choice groups. Around the time of the Repeal the 8th campaign in 2017 and 2018, the Iona director regularly voiced his concerns about “Soros money”. In December 2017 Quinn complained that the Irish media was “engaging in the functional equivalent of fake news” by not reporting on Amnesty International Ireland receiving €137,000 from OSF in August 2015 and the fact that it was “breaking the law by refusing to hand back the Soros money”. The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) ordered Amnesty to return the money but after Amnesty appealed the decision to the High Court the two parties came to a settlement in July 2018. As part of the resolution, SIPO admitted its original reasoning and subsequent ordering of Amnesty to return the donation were “procedurally flawed”. Despite this, Quinn continued to voice his displeasure about “Soros money” in Ireland.

Known unknowns

Issues of funding from US and Russian anti-gender rights groups and oligarchs with close links to Vladimir Putin aren’t of concern. It’d be unwise to bite the hand the feeds. And feed well it does. 

The Irish branch of Human Life International (HLI), a Catholic extremist group, has income approaching €1m per year. Dwarfing Iona’s income, HLI Ireland has largely gone under the radar of most even though it’s part of an international network intent on attacking gender rights. Unsurprisingly, neither Gript or Quinn appear to have ever made any reference to HLI Ireland or its director Patrick Buckley and his links to Russian anti-gender rights groups.

The wider Irish far right also doesn’t take issue with foreign funding of the likes of HLI Ireland or Iona. Instead, Soros is the main target of its ire. Liberal groups are supposedly intent on destroying Western society and Soros is their puppet master. But links between the Irish far right and extremists abroad are an open secret. Europol has pointed to such links, writing in 2020 of the existence of a “strong international network involving right-wing extremists from Ireland, other European countries, and the USA”. The Beacon reported earlier that same year of a member of the National Party saying during a livestream that the party has “a lot of people in America coming on board helping us now as well”. More recently, we’ve been able to expose that a large amount of donations going to a fundraiser for two fake nuns linked to an antisemitic Catholic splinter group are originating in the US. 

Again and again activists have warned about US money being used to finance conservative and extremist causes here. Members of the European Parliament have also identified US money being used to fund attacks on the rights of women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community across the EU. According to a report the group published last year, anti-gender rights organisations spent $81.3m between 2009 and 2018 which came from the US. But as the report says, the millions of dollars under discussion is “an underestimation” of the true figure. We won’t see the McGuirks and Quinns of the world holding forth on this kind of funding. Because, for them, it’s funding for the right side. 

Featured image via Piqsels

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