GOP Soros Ad

The Tree of Life Synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers, acted in October 2018 based on a conspiracy theory that was a more racist and antisemitic version of what right-wing media were saying leading up to the 2018 electoral midterms in the United States. Most people who believe in grand conspiracy theories of infiltrated governments and invasions don’t violently act on their beliefs. There are multiple reasons why, but most on the far right like to feel victimization and find meaning through their beliefs, while not actually taking any real risks. A stable society and law enforcement keeps most people in check, which is one reason to not encourage the beliefs of people like Bowers. Indications are that Bowers’ beliefs were already established, so right-wing media’s contribution may have been to make that threat from within and without feel more imminent, as if the fate of the country rested on the election and what happened with the caravan.

The caravan invasion narrative promoted by Trump and right-wing media bore a striking resemblance to the Camp of the Saints narrative, and some people noticed. Camp of the Saints is a book beloved of Steve Bannon, who has likened mass migration in Europe to being just like Camp of the Saints multiple times. Bannon’s former news organization, Breitbart, endorsed Camp of the Saints at least four times. That was in part because Stephen Miller recommended it to white nationalist Katie McHugh while she worked at Breitbart. Former Congressman Steve King also expressed admiration for the book. The book was republished by John Tanton a few decades ago, who also helped founded, in whole or in part, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA.

The essence of Camp of the Saints is that caravans of lower races, coming by boat, arrive on the shores of the West: A West that has lost its self-respect and sanity as it compassionately lets everybody in. In doing this, it foretells the end of Western culture. The hordes of refugees are portrayed as animals in their urges, who are so culturally different that they would just kill and pillage without knowing what they are doing. Seriously. The most disgusting scene is where all the refugees on the boat participate in a mass orgy. Those who would kill the “invaders” are portrayed as sensible. Camp of the Saints was one of the books that laid out what has become The Great Replacement and white genocide conspiracy theories.

The narratives promoted by Trump, his surrogates, and some right-wing media played into a Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory. These can be flexible on the far right. Those who don’t want to endorse the racist narrative can talk about international bankers can use the same “conspirator” names, but not make it about race. It’s also useful because once someone believes the grand conspiracy theory, they can potentially be drawn into the racist aspect of the narrative.

More casual racists may look at the Civil Rights movement and declare that “blacks” couldn’t have possibly done this on their own without outside influence. They might say that blacks were content until liberals agitated them. They might claim that communists were stirring them up to bring down America. Antisemitic conspiracy theorists, however, also add: “It’s the Jews.” The Jews are behind communism and have brainwashed white liberals to destroy their own country, they would argue. The Jews want to stir up the lower races in America to take things away from the white Christians. The Jews want to bring in mongrel hordes to destroy our culture and lower our living standards. The Jews want to foment rebellion amongst leftists to bring down our government and implement some kind of socialist communist dystopia and ultimately bring us into a world government.

The idea that there is a leftist threat from within and a globalist threat from without has been around for decades in far-right circles. The more recent version claims that BLM/Antifa/Dems are Soros-funded groups, combined with migrants being brought into the country, is meant to destabilize the country and bring us into a socialist New World Order, or some variation of that story. Soros is the new Rothschild, in terms of being the international Jew puppet master. Soros is also much more tangible than Rothschild. Soros is a major funder of Democrats and a funder of Black Lives Matter, and like most donors, has his policy preferences and goals. Conspiracy theorists, however, make him the demon pulling the strings behind a conspiracy that will end America.

What follows is a selection of quotes by right-wing media pundits and political operators that aligned with conspiracy theories like The Great Replacement. The timeline starts in October 2018 and will end on election day, November 6, 2018. Comparing with social media and Internet forums would be instructive, but is beyond the scope of this analysis.

October 2018

As October 2018 began, the United States Senate were vetting Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be a Supreme Court Justice. Allegations of sexual assault became a centerpiece. On October 1, Fox News’ pundit Tucker Carlson said, “It is not about Brett Kavanaugh at this point, it is about punishing everyone who looks like Brett Kavanaugh.” He went on to add, “Democrats aren’t looking for justice here. They want a revolution.” Carlson is really talented at peddling grievance narratives in way that comes across rational.

On October 3, Tucker Carlson and Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs agreed that the Democrats are waging a revolution against the working class, with Dobbs labeling it Marxist. While being interviewed on Fox News about Kavanaugh, right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro said that, “this is the world in which we now live in, in which white men are presumed guilty because they are white men, because they are supposedly in a position of privilege.” While Shapiro is a much more reasonable right-wing pundit than Carlson, they are both examples of how the campaign against Kavanaugh was portrayed by multiple right-wingers as an attack on white men.

On October 5, President Trump tweeted out about those protesting Judge Brett Kavanaugh: “The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others.” On October 6, Rudi Giuliani retweeted a tweet that said, “Follow the money. I think Soros is the anti-Christ! He must go! Freeze his assets and I bet the protests stop.” Thus, both President Trump and Giuliani linked internal protests against Kavanaugh to George Soros.

On October 6, Tom Fitton, the President of Judicial Watch, claimed that the deep state was aligned with Soros, and that Soros used the State Department to push his migration agenda. Thus, in conservative days, it was easy to find prominent right-wingers who said Soros was behind internal protests and behind migrants on their way to the US border. Regardless of intent, these claims fit well within a common right-wing antisemitic conspiracy theory.

On October 8, Tucker Carlson said that Tom Steyer’s comments criticizing rich white men were “exactly the kind of things that Hutu leaders in Rwanda were saying in the early 1990s.” Except in this case, the alleged target of genocidal thinking are white. It’s one way to say “white genocide” without saying it. White genocide is a white nationalist framing of a conspiracy theory that says they, often Jews, are pushing for the genocide of the white race through mass migration. Carlson’s words could be interpreted that way be some, regardless of Carlson’s intent. Carlson, however, has shown enough familiarity with white nationalist talking points that it is clear he is not oblivious, though it’s harder to nail down what he actually believes. Blake Neff, Carlson’s top writer at the time, was outed as a secret racist in July 2020.  

On October 8, Monica Crowley, while a guest on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle with Laura Ingraham, said, “The left is at war, Laura, and that is why they are constantly and immediately reaching for the most extreme, the most radical, the most violent in some cases. Because that’s the only way that they can win this war. It’s a war against the Constitution, against free market economics, against individual liberty, against all the things for which Justice Kavanaugh is going to fight on the Supreme Court.” On October 9, Fox News’ pundit Sebastian Gorka claimed that Democrats have normalized violence, adding that, “You look at the violence of antifa, they go prepared for battle to those demonstrations. The right doesn’t do that.” Except, the right does do that.

While death threats and doxing of GOP Senators over Kavanaugh is a valid concern, those on Fox News amped it up to make people feel that ‘the left’ was coming for them. On October 8, Carlson and his guest agreed that Indigenous Peoples’ Day was an assault on the American narrative to make us ashamed of being Americans, so that progressives can rewrite the future into a socialist country. Carlson added, “So they’re really telling the rest of us you don’t have the right to defend yourself against our assaults. You don’t have the moral legitimacy to defend your own country.”  On October 9, while a guest on Fox News’ Fox and Friends, right-wing pundit Tomi Lahren said, “So this is not just something that our senators and representatives are going through, it’s really anyone who sits right of center, anyone who’s a Trump supporter, we’re all targets of this, and it extends beyond those that hold public office. So, yeah, the average citizen, if you’re on the right, should be concerned and in danger.”

On October 10, former Congressman and current right-wing pundit Newt Gingrich said, “Well what you’re seeing is the emergence in a very real way of a brown shirt party, to use the term for the people who in Weimar Germany went out and literally dominated the streets by brute force.” While a guest on Sean Hannity’s radio show on October 11, right-wing pundit Bill O’Reilly also compared leftist protesters with Nazi street crews, “If you look back into 1930, to 1936, this is very similar to what happened in Germany.”

Yet, when the far-right Proud Boys, who are known for their street violence, beat up a few protesters in New York City on October 12, Fox News continued to decry leftist violence while largely ignoring a right-wing group trying to dominate the streets. On October 15, Proud Boys’ Founder Gavin McInnes, speaking at the Manhattan GOP Club, said, “At the very least, people of the right, let us scum in. You need us foot soldiers.” On the same day, Ingraham interviewed Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer, who have committed their share of street violence.

On October 11, Dobbs’ guest went with the infiltration theme as she said that Andrew McCabe “is part a cabal of hard left people at the FBI.” Dobbs followed up by saying that the government was still “in the hands of Barack Obama.” Thus, he used the term “cabal,”, talked about the hard left, and talked about a black man still running things.

On October 16, Ingraham said, “Of this my friends you can be sure, your views on immigration will have zero impact and zero influence on a House dominated by Democrats who want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever increasing number of chain migrants.” Ingraham here used the language of The Great Replacement conspiracy theory, which says that Jews, Soros in particular, want to replace the white race through mass immigration. The Great Replacement and white genocide conspiracy theories are thematically similar.

On October 17, while a guest on Hannity’s show, Gingrich said, “This election is a life and death struggle with a left-wing movement which wants to radicalize America.” When right-wing pundits weren’t pushing immigration as a threat, they were pushing leftists as a threat to destroy America.

On October 18, Ingraham said that, “there’s been a complete transformation of many communities because of illegal immigration. And it’s nothing to do with skin color or where you come from, it’s a transformation electorally and it’s a transformation of our country that no one voted for.” She also said, “Now, the Democrats talk — taking the House will ensure that this caravan of 4,000 eventually becomes a flow 4 million, 4 million plus, before we know it. This cannot happen.” Not only should we be concerned about immigration, but electoral transformation.

On October 18, President Trump said, “I am watching the Democrat Party led (because they want Open Borders and existing weak laws) assault on our country by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, whose leaders are doing little to stop this large flow of people, INCLUDING MANY CRIMINALS, from entering Mexico to U.S.” President Trump had played up the criminal threat from migrants on many occasions.

On October 18, the political committee for the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives released a video ad called, “Owned.” It portrayed George Soros in a puppet master role overlooking it all. It showed Colin Kaepernick while talking about “prima donna athletes protesting our anthem.” It showed antifa while saying “left-wing mobs paid to riot in the streets.” It literally said “the left owns Feehan” while talking about Soros funding him, making it clear Soros is the one behind things like amnesty, while showing a photo of MS-13. The ad wasn’t subtle.

On October 19, while on The Ingraham Angle, Gingrich said, “This is an invasion. This is an act of attacking the United States’ sovereignty…This is going to be a crisis, you can’t have thousands and thousands and thousands of people decide to break the law and have any expectation that civilization is going to withstand it.” What he said there resembled Camp of the Saints.

On October 20, Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro said of the caravan, “Now, I’m not saying they are all criminals. What I am asking is who are they? What I am saying is I want to vet them, screen them.” Asylee applicants do receive a screening, so it’s an implied lie to her audience.

On October 22, Fox & Friends’ Pete Hegseth repeated an unverified claim from the President of Guatemala that “they caught over a hundred ISIS fighters in Guatemala trying to use this caravan or other processes.” President Trump soon tweeted, “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.” Hegseth also said, “We don’t have any idea, or even a concept, of how many people are coming into our country illegally. And we have no idea who they are.” Neither of those claims were true.

On October 22, a guest on The Ingraham Angle said that, “these are not immigrants entering our country. These are individuals that are invading our country and something needs to be done about it.” On the same day, Lou Dobbs said, “The fear is, to be clear, the fear is that some of them are radical Islamist terrorists that have intermingled with this group of Central Americans. The further fear is that many of the, so many of these migrants from Central America frankly are radical left-wingers, they’re leaders are left-wing party members for crying out loud out of Honduras.” The migrants are now invaders and maybe even terrorists, according to them.

On October 22, a guest on America’s Newsroom said if we don’t discourage caravans, “it’s going to be easy for the Democrats and the Soros groups to reorganize, to organize and reorganize continuous efforts like this over the next few years.” Another guest, Rep. Louie Gohmert, said, “I can’t help but think that the Democrats, perhaps Soros, others, may be funding this, thinking it’s going to help them. It’s designed.” Not only do their words fit within a conspiracy theory, but these two outright said it was a conspiracy headed by Soros.

On October 22, a pipe bomb was found in the mailbox of George Soros’ estate, which was one of 16 that were mailed to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump. An investigation would later find that the culprit was a Trump supported named Cesar Sayoc.

On October 23, while on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Mike Huckabee said regarding the caravan coming to the border, “it’s a registration line for Democrat voters.” He added, “If we’re not a strong enough country to stop an invasion of several thousand people who demand, who feel like they have a right to bust through the borders, to break into our homes, to just come in and say we’re going to do whatever we want, then we’re not a very strong country anymore.” Huckabee also said, “We don’t know who’s in that great, vast number of people and, quite frankly, we already do know that there are some people who have some nefarious intentions.” The idea that the migrant caravan was just going to crash through the border was always a lie. Their intent was to apply for asylum.

On October 23, Ingraham said about the caravan, “It’s a health issue too, because we don’t know what people have coming in here. We have diseases in this country we haven’t had for decades.” On October 29, Fox & Friends’ Brian Kilmeade said that diseases would be a concern with the migrant caravan. Others on Fox also expressed concern about diseases. Claiming that migrants carry diseases is a xenophobic tradition that goes back over a century in the United States.

On October 24, while on Fox & Friends, Tomi Lahren said, “Listen, what we’re seeing now with this migrant caravan, it’s not a caravan, it’s an invasion.” On October 24, while on Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ann Coulter said, “The problem is who the people are who are coming. If we overwhelm our country with even more millions of Latin Americans, eventually we just become another failed Latin American state.”

On October 24, multiple Democrats received bombs in the mail. Alex Jones immediately did what he often does after mass shootings and terrorist acts: call it a false flag. He also added that Soros funds Antifa, though I’ve yet to see any evidence of that. The same day, Rush Limbaugh suggested it was a false flag without using that phrase. Guests on Fox News The Story with Martha MacCallum, Fox & Friends, and Trish Regan Primetime also suggested it was a false flag, as did many on conservative talk radio.

On October 25, Gregory Bush walked into a Kroger grocery store, where he shot and killed two African-Americans. Earlier in the day, he had tried to get into a black church. When confronted in the parking lot before walking into Kroger, he allegedly told an armed white man, “Whites don’t kill whites.”

On October 25, with tensions heightened after bombs being mailed to people Trump had talked about, Trump had an opportunity to be presidential and calm everyone down. Instead, he doubled down, blaming the media, “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

At 9:50am EST on October 27, Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, yelled “All Jews must die,” and started shooting. He shot eighteen, killing eleven. It was the worst anti-Jewish attack ever on US soil. Before going in, Bowers told his audience on the Gab social media platform, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.” The Synagogue he attacked was a mile away. The Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, HIAS, helps bring refugees into the country, and the synagogue was having a refugee Sunday at Tree of Life Synogogue.

Bowes’ Gab bio said, “jews are the children of satan. (john 8:44) — —- the lord jesus christ is come in the flesh.” He referred to John 8:44, which says, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” That’s a verse used by Christian Identity. Identity frames white people as the real Israel and Jews as falsely claiming that role, with them portrayed figuratively or literally as children of Satan. Bowers posted a screenshot of the Christian Identity Wikipedia page that had the caption, “If the Jews Hate it, it must be the Truth.” Bowers appeared to be a Christian Identity adherent.  

Seventeen days before the attack, he posted a link to HIAS’ list of National Refugee Shabbat events with the words, “Why hello there HIAS! You like to bring in hostile invaders to dwell among us? We appreciate the list of friends you have provided:”

In the month of October 2020, Bowers also posted,

  • Link to a Fox News article about alleged Antifa and BLM violence with he caption, “FUCK EVERY SINGLE CONSERVATIVE who sees this shit and doesn’t attempt to stop it.”
  • Link to a tweet about an alleged farm attack in South Africa.
  • Illustration of a Jew stomping Africa through a funnel into Europe.
  • Link to a video with the caption, “Jews do open borders! They admit it themselves here.” The video includes the President of HIAS speaking from the border.
  • “The mass immigration agenda,” with a link to a video, followed by, “diversity for you but not the jew”
  • Reposted, “If Whites don’t stand up NOW and stop ALL immigration & Multiculturalism and SPEAK OUT, then the entire planet will become 3RD WORLD and only the Jews will have a prosperous safe country while the entire planet is burning.”
  • Reposted an image with the caption, “Look at the logo on the truck, what do you see? It’s the same people who are running the ships that bring Africans into Europe. Why would these ‘allies’ of ours be flooding our country with the refuse of the third world? We are being destroyed, not by a superior army or an act of God, but by our fear of being called anti-semites.”
  • Reposted an image with the caption, “Serious question. Why are Jewish groups using their trucks to transport invaders to our border?”
  • “i have noticed a change in people saying ‘illegals’ that now say ‘invaders’ i like this”
  • Reposted an image with the caption, “i don’t get why ppl are so upset at the sight of massive human caravans of young men from Honduras and El Salvador invading America thru our unsecured southern border i mean, it’s not like they’re from the two most violent countries on the planet i’m pretty sure these huge mobs of illiterate brutal murderers will assimilate just fine in suburban Phoenix”
  • Reposted an image that says that “Today’s Israelites are not real Jews,” and “I now not only do NOT support Israel, I support their total destruction.”
  • “Diversity means chasing down the last white person.”
  • “amazing amount of division on gab today. glad the overwhelming jew problem has been solved so we can now fight with each other.”
  • “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist. There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k*** infestation. #Qanon is here to get patriots that were against martial law in the 90’s to be ones begging for it now to drain muh swamp. But go ahead and keep saying you are #Winning.”
  • A meme that questioned the plausibility of 6 million Jews dying in the Holocaust.
  • A meme that showed a Jew telling Trump, “Your character will appear to the public as a white racist. It’s how we control whites,” with Trump responding, “Yes sir.”
  • An image that implied both American political parties are controlled by ZOG, which means Zionist Occupied Government.
  • Reposted, “Jews are waging a propaganda war against Western civilization and it is so effective that we are headed towards certain extinction within the next 200 years and we’re not even aware of it”

While not a Trump supporter, Bowers nevertheless bought into multiple aspects of the narrative that Trump and right-wing media were pushing. Right-wing media didn’t introduce these ideas to Bowers, but it did echo these ideas, which likely added to the fear and motivation. As one of his links includes a Fox New article, he clearly wasn’t unaware of what was on Fox News, though it’s unclear how much direct exposure to Fox he had. Bowers didn’t operate in a vacuum, and the heightened mainstream media environment would have an impact on people like Bowers and people Bowers interacted with WHO ALREADY BELIEVED what right-wing media were now saying. While most of what Fox pundits said wasn’t openly antisemitic, and they might not have had antisemitic intent, what they said fit pretty clearly into an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

After the attack on Tree of Life on October 27, a man named Edward Clark committed suicide. He and his brother Jeffrey wanted to expedite a race war, according to their relatives. Both had been associated with “white nationalist Richard Spencer, Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler, and far-right troll Jack Posobiec.” Edward associated with Vanguard America and was reportedly in a photograph holding a Vanguard America flag along with Charlottesville attacker James Fields Jr. Both had Gab accounts, and it was there that Jeffrey praised the Tree of Life attack, “fucking kikes that got shot by the hero #RobertBowers were all active supporters of pedophilia and every last one of them deserved exactly what happened to them and so much worse.” Jeffrey would be arrested on a weapons charge on November 9.

On October 27, after the Tree of Life shooting, while on Lou Dobbs Tonight, Chris Farrel of Judicial Watch said that some organizational affiliates helping the caravan were being funded by the “Soros Occupied State Department.” Soros Occupied State Department is a restatement of Zionist Occupied Government, which insinuates a Jewish conspiracy that has infiltrated the US government. This was too much for Fox News, who banned Farrel from appearing on their networks. I find it hard to believe that someone could say that and not be antisemitic.

On October 29, President Trump once again used a phrase used by Stalin when he tweeted that the media is the “Enemy of the People.” Mail bombs sent by Cesar Sayoc were still being discovered at the time. On October 31, while talking to reporters outside the White House, President Trump was asked, “Do think somebody is funding the caravan?” He responded, “I wouldn’t be surprised, yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised.” The reporter followed up by asking, “Soros?” President Trump responded, “I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes.” Even after a man shot up a synagogue based on that conspiracy theory, President Trump repeated it, though he probably didn’t knowingly make that connection.

November 2018

On November 1, while on VCY America’s Crosstalk radio program, The America Pastors Network’s Sam Rohrer used theological reasoning that sounded very similar to Christian Identity theology. “God created nations. He created borders. Acts 17 actually talks about God establishing the nations before the beginning of the world; he defined even their borders, the geography. So when we fight against God’s plan, we fight against God himself. So borders, whether people realize it or not, the fight for open borders—even by many of those who call themselves Christians, who say, ‘Let anybody come in’—they are, whether they’re doing it wittingly or unwittingly, they are fighting against God’s plan and fighting against God himself.”

On November 1, a vandal wrote “Kill All Jews” in Union Template in Brooklyn, which led to cancelling a progressive political event. On the morning of November 2, fires were set at seven Hasidic synagogues and schools in Brooklyn, New York. Attacks on Orthodox Jews in New York City would continue in 2019, with much of it committed by young African-American men. While it’s unclear what their ideological leanings were, antisemitism can be found on more than the right, and right-wing antisemitism may have contributed to a more hostile environment overall for Jews. 

On November 2, Scott Paul Beierle walked into a Tallahassee Yoga Studio and shot seven people, killing two. He openly embraced misogynism and identified with Elliot Rodger, a well-known incel icon. Incel means involuntary celibate, which is a loosely tied movement of mostly males who feel unable to find a sex partner. They range from people looking for advice to those like Beirerle who raged against the opposite sex.

On November 2, Fox & Friends Pete Hegseth said, “But, when you see a lot of young men carrying the flag of their country to your country to break your laws, it looks a lot more like an invasion than anything else. And that’s not — I’m not saying that in military terms or anything. But, you understand, you don’t know what their intentions are, you don’t know who these folks are.”

On November 2, while on Fox News’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, Pastor Robert Jeffress echoed Christian Identity theology when he said, “The Bible teaches that god is the one who designed countries. Acts 17 says he designed the boundaries in which countries exist. God’s plan is not for a one world government that the pope seems to be longing for. And you know, what the pope has in common with these Hondurans who are trying to sue our country is this: I mean, we have got these Hondurans trying to come into our country, they’re suing our nation for their so-called constitutional rights, and the only thing more absurd than that, Lou, are the globalists like the pope who would actually defend their right to do such a thing. And I think you’re going to see pinheads on CNN and MSNBC trying to defend this preposterous idea. And look, the end game of globalists is to erase the distinction between nations and eliminate the differences between people who live in and outside our country, and that’s wrong.”

The 2018 midterms took place on November 6. Right-wing media rhetoric that fit into this these right-wing conspiracy theories would continue, though the temperature lowered for a time. While Bowers wasn’t the only violent actor during this time, his actions fit into the narrative being pushed by right-wing media. No, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham were not saying, “It’s the Jews,” and I’m not saying Fox pundits are antisemites. However, regardless of their intent, their irresponsible rhetoric was similar enough to existing conspiracies on the far right, that their narratives aligned neatly with a more virulent strain of that conspiracy theory. It’s been that way for decades. The John Birch Society and Pat Robertson pushed one version of the New World Order conspiracy that puts Jewish bankers at the center while not making race-baked claims, while open antisemites would use the same basic conspiracy framework while talking about race and blaming the Jews.

It’s not that President Trump and Fox News pundits created language used by the far-right, but rather, that President Trump and Fox News pundits utilized the language of the far right, thus creating a feedback loop where far-right forums could be sources for online far-right pundits who then become sources for Fox News pundits who then influence online forums. President Trump sometimes retweeted far-right Twitter accounts, which would be viewed as signaling, regardless of his intent.

It’s not as simple, however, as President Trump likening a migrant caravan to an invasion and Robert Bowers likening it to an invasion, especially when Bowers didn’t believe in Trump. That doesn’t mean the words of the President of the United States had no impact. They did. However, people shouldn’t look at a simple cause and effect, but rather, the ecosystem of rhetoric and communication that stoke the flames and motivate people to act on their beliefs by validating their beliefs and making their fears feel imminent such that they might feel compelled to act.