Tomorrow afternoon, Princeton College Republicans, The Princeton Tory, and the Clio Party will be hosting an event with Representative Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.). In the past, Hagedorn claimed that former Senator Joe Lieberman only supported the Iraq War because he was Jewish.
More recently, in Hagedorn’s 2018 campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) insinuated that his opponent, Dan Feehan, was owned by the Jewish-American billionaire George Soros. The advertisement depicted Soros, a Holocaust survivor, behind stacks of money, along with Antifa protestors.
In an attempt to justify their assertion, the NRCC pointed to Feehan’s previous employment at the Center for a New American Security, a centrist think tank, which had received some funding from a Soros-sponsored foundation. The truth, however, is that Feehan never worked at the think tank in any full time capacity.
And while the Center for a New American Security has received funding from Soros’ Open Society Foundations, it has also received grants from the federal government, John Hopkins University, and Boeing. Politifact found unequivocally that “Soros hasn’t donated to Feehan and does not ‘bankroll’ Feehan.”
Depictions of Soros as owning political candidates are rooted in centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has warned that images “casting a Jewish individual as a puppet master who manipulates national events for malign purposes has the effect of mainstreaming anti-Semitic tropes.” The extent to which Soros is used as an anti-Semitic punching bag is well documented.
The perpetrator of the 2018 shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, for example, believed that Soros was funding an immigrant caravan to invade the United States. He justified his massacre as an attempt to stop the invasion and “slaughter” of Americans.
Soros himself has been the target of violence — also in 2018, he was sent a pipe bomb by an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist. Jewish leaders from left-wing groups, such as Max Berger of IfNotNow, criticized Hagedorn’s ad. Berger was joined by more conservative voices, such as Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL, who called the depiction of Soros “appalling” and an “invocation of classic anti-Semitic themes.”
It is, therefore, concerning to me that the Princeton College Republicans are welcoming a figure who has made anti-Semitic remarks and invoked anti-Semitic tropes to speak, even virtually, to our campus community. In the past, College Republicans President Adam Hoffman ’23 has criticized campus speakers who have a “reprehensible history of normalizing anti-Semitism.”
I agree with Hoffman that normalizing anti-Semitism on campus is tragic. So then why does this same standard not apply to College Republican events? We cannot afford to be hypocrites when it comes to anti-Semitism; it is not a label we reserve only for political opponents.
I hope that going forward, all campus groups do a better job of vetting the history of invitees to ensure that hate has no platform at Princeton.
Zachariah Sippy is a sophomore from Lexington, Ky. He can be reached at ZSippy@Princeton.edu.
Editor’s note: This piece has been modified to make clear that the NRCC, rather than Hagedorn himself, was responsible for the 2018 advertisement invoking Soros. Furthermore, this article has been updated to reflect that Feehan worked at the Center for a New American Security.