It’s been nearly two months since this summer’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and the conspiracy theories are still flying.
In the aftermath of the violence that left one woman dead and 19 others badly injured, right-wing pundits began spewing baseless claims that the entire ordeal was a scheme orchestrated by the left to stoke racial tensions. All were eventually debunked, but Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) appears to still be clinging to the conspiracies.
In an interview with Vice News published Thursday, Oct. 5, Gosar suggested that the “Unite the Right” rally was actually “created by the left” and funded by billionaire Democrat donor George Soros. He also alluded to conservative blogger and rally organizer Jason Kessler, who he dubbed an “Obama sympathizer.”
“Maybe [the rally] was created by the left,” the congressman said. “Because, let’s look at the person that actually started the rally. It has come to our attention that this is a person from Occupy Wall Street, that was an Obama sympathizer. So, wait a minute — be careful where you start taking these people to.”
Gosar went on to accuse Soros, a Jew who survived Nazi occupation during World War I in Hungary, of turning against his people and collaborating with the Third Reich. When asked if he thought the billionaire financed the neo-Nazi march, Gosar responded, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out?”
The congressman’s claims, which have been promoted by the likes of InfoWars founder Alex Jones, drew swift backlash from critics and fellow Republicans on social media.
A Republican member of Congress. Will other Republicans rebuke him? If not, is this a party to which one can belong?https://t.co/LRq9WuIeeV
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) October 5, 2017
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) October 6, 2017
Gosar’s anti-Semitic accusations against Soros also prompted a sharply worded rebuke from the liberal donor’s Open Society Foundation.
“[George] was 14 years old when the war ended. He did not collaborate with the Nazis,” a Soros spokeswoman said in a statement to Vice News. He did not help round up people. He did not confiscate anybody’s property. Such baseless allegations are insulting to the victims of the Holocaust, to all Jewish people, and to anyone who honors the truth.”
“It is an affront to Mr. Soros and his family, who against the odds managed to survive one of the darkest moments in our history,” she added.
During his interview, Gosar also drew on theories about Kessler, saying he was a supporter of former President Barack Obama and leftist movement Occupy Wall Street. The Democrat turned-white supremacist acknowledged voting for Obama and attending an Occupy rally in 2011, but told news site Snopes earlier this year he was turned of by the Democratic party during Obama’s second term and has been spewing white nationalist ideologies ever since.
Gosar is now the second House Republican to suggest the Charlottesville unrest was part of a ploy by left-wing organizers. Last month, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) called the deadly event a setup for these “dumb Civil War re-enactors.”
“It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation” and “put our president on the spot,” Rohabacher said.