In today’s woke and hyperpartisan world, nobody escapes the watchful eye of the thought police. Not even a pop superstar like Taylor Swift.
The 30-year-old singer has sold tens of millions of recordings in her career that span the genres of country and pop music. That’s made her one of the highest-paid female musicians in the world with legions of fans who admire her for her talents and philanthropic endeavors while also buying the various products she endorses—from Diet Coke to Elizabeth Arden perfumes. But that hasn’t exempted her from being hammered by the forces of political correctness for criticizing the Soros family of billionaires.
Some on the left sought to “cancel” Swift last week after she voiced her dismay about the role that Alexander Soros—the son of hedge-fund billionaire, philanthropist and mega-political donor George Soros—played in depriving her of the rights to the master recordings to her first six albums. Furious over the intervention of the younger Soros in the transaction, Swift vented to her 131 million Instagram followers (in a post that has since been deleted) that Alex Soros and his family were guilty of “shameless greed.”
What’s wrong with calling billionaires who outmaneuver a millionaire greedy? Nothing, as long as you don’t say it about a Soros. That’s because protecting that wealthy family from critics has become a political imperative for left-wingers who approve of the massive donations that the elder Soros and his Open Society Foundations have made to a plethora of liberal causes and Democratic Party candidates. But it’s also a way to silence any criticism of their political activism on the part of conservatives as evidence of anti-Semitism.
Soros has been the focus of anti-Semitic invective, especially in his native Hungary, where he has been an opponent of the Viktor Orbán government. In the United States, resentment of Soros has to do with his massive funding of leftist protest movements and the Democratic Party, not his Jewish origins. Much like the way those on the left have demonized the libertarian Koch family and other right-wing political donors, conservatives have launched polemics against Soros and his Open Society Foundations over what he and his admirers call “democracy building,” but which they see as a radical agenda that undermines the freedoms of the liberal order.
Accusing Jews of greed and of buying influence is a staple of classic anti-Semitism. But that can’t mean that anyone with Jewish ties must be treated as exempt from criticism for engaging in political conduct or in business practices that offend some people.
An effort by both ends of the political spectrum to focus on the personal agendas of wealthy donors is a way of silencing arguments rather than engaging the ideas that the Soros and Koch families support. With respect to Soros, some on the left have also taken to treating any attack on him or his son’s political machinations or their business dealings as proof of anti-Semitism.
So it was to be expected that Swift’s Instagram post would bring down on her the wrath of the woke. Tara Mulholland, a CNN producer tweeted that Swift was dog-whistling to what she thinks is the singers’ neo-Nazi fan base. The far-left Jewish group Bend the Arc, which receives funding from Soros’s foundations, chimed in by accusing Swift of “sharing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Soros family” because, they claimed, “shameless greed is a dog whistle aimed at Jews.”
This isn’t the first time Swift has clashed with the guardians of left-wing political correctness. In 2017, she was denounced by the American Civil Liberties Union for threatening to sue a blogger that accused her of supporting the white-supremacy movement and compared her to Adolf Hitler. While the ACLU was right that the writer smearing Swift was protected by the First Amendment, the group went further and seemed to justify the blogger’s crackpot theories.
What makes all this even crazier is that Swift is a liberal who opposes President Donald Trump, supports abortion rights, Democrats and the same fashionable political causes embraced by just about everybody else in the entertainment industry.
She holds a grudge against the Soros clan because they helped finance the sale of the rights to her first albums to one of their associates. Swift wanted the record company to sell the masters of the recordings to her so she could further profit from her early work. Regardless of whether or not you like Swift and/or dislike Alex Soros’s politics, the sale wasn’t an injustice. The people Soros funded had the right to buy them.
But having striven to make the Soros family bulletproof against any criticism of their political investments or high-handed business tactics (George Soros is still hated in Malaysia and other countries whose currencies crashed as a result of his piratical high finance adventures), their activist retainers must denounce anyone who dares to mention the fact that they are ruthless profiteers or seeking to impose left-wing ideological goals on America and Israel (where they support pro-BDS groups).
The problem here isn’t Swift’s language, or the rights and wrongs of a business deal that shouldn’t interest anyone who’s not one of her fans. Rather, it is a dishonest approach to political discourse that has unfairly sought to label anyone with a critical opinion about the Soros family as somehow linked to neo-Nazis. Some denizens of the fever swamps of the far-right are guilty of anti-Semitic attacks on Soros. But anyone who spends hundreds of millions on ideologically tinged political advocacy must be considered fair game for legitimate criticism in a democracy.
It’s time to stop pretending that the name Soros is akin to a martyr of anti-Semitism and for their hired guns to stop smearing anyone—be it Taylor Swift or Republicans—who takes a swipe at the billionaires as hatemongers.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.