George Soros, Open Society, Emily Tam Kin discussed on The Frame

KPCC
| KPCC

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

And from Americans for the arts. I'm Jen white. We're discussing billionaire philanthropist George Soros, his impact and the fictional conspiracy theories about his activities, which have been promoted by world leaders, including President Trump. We're here with Emily Tam Kin, US editor for the new statesman and author of the Influence of Sorrows, Emily. Let's pick up with that question from Mike, who wanted to know if George Soros made all of his money legally. You did make his money legally because it's legal to speculate on currencies, right? It's legal to set up a charitable trust so that your Children get more of your money. It's legal. Tio makes thes incredible amounts of money. There's a separate question of whether it's moral, whether it's right and whether perhaps we should. If we're going to have an open society, we should put in place financial reforms and structural reforms that would not allow one person to make and keep as much money as as George Soros. I think based on the way in which I asked that question, you can guess my answer. But the question is it you know, is it Is it legal is it's Is it right? In my opinion? What did critics have Open society have to say about that organization? They say that it has an oversized roll or that It's interesting. The criticism is very rarely of open society. It's of Soros but is by the transfer property of open society because they're the ones doing the work. So it's it's the most common one is that they're pushing liberal or progressive values on countries that want to remain conservative. And actually, a few years ago, you had a Republican senators sign on to a letter. To then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying, We want to look at where their money is going. Hungary's a conservative place. Why are they pushing these liberal values there? So that's the most common criticism of open society that I've seen. So we know there are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around about George Soros some that people fully believe. Where is that line between valid criticism and what is anti Semitism? Yeah, I thought about this a lot and thinking about reporting the book and writing it. And I think that the line is actually not that hard to determine if you're saying George Soros spend his money to help progressive prosecutors in district attorney elections. That's not that's on anti Semitic. That's a real thing that actually happened. And you can say I don't think you should have done that, or I don't know. I didn't want these people to be elected or and I don't like big money in politics fine. When it becomes anti Semetic is when you have people saying as Tucker Carlson did that sorrows in spending that money was hijacking, democracy or alternatively, when you say that That protest movements related to it, for example, protests against police brutality and in support of black lives matter or orchestrated by sorrows. Because then what you're doing is you're assigning agency and various intent. Soros and making him sound is this puppeteer, which is a very old antisemitic trope. And furthermore, as Problematically, in my opinion, you're stripping agency from the people who were actually out on the streets protesting who are actually running in the district attorney elections who were actually you know who have legitimate grievances and are trying to take part in the political process and you're saying Not you, the people who make this claim they're saying, you know they are actually out there because there's something wrong. They're not actually running because they want to improve the system. George Soros put them up to it. So it's on the It's both anti Semitic and deeply unfair to people who are trying to participate in their own political process. So help us get a little more context around how much power George Soros actually Pass to achieve his goal of an open society. I think when people think of billionaires we say, Hey, they have a lot of money. They have a lot of power. But where has he been successful? And where has he been less successful in moving his agenda forward? Um I think that if you look at the way he's been very successful in the financial robin. There's no question about that, in terms of promoting the idea of it Open society. I think that there are some cases in which he's made tangible gains. For example, his support for this area boat during the war there where he got lighten electricity into the city and put on Open society helps put on literature festivals and award prizes. The people even during four could feel fully human. I think that that is to me, that's no question success. I think that if you look at the world today, one could easily argue that his legacy is more Mixed because you have trump you have or bon, you have people in power who are clearly arguing against the concept of an open society. You know, to my mind. We kind of can't just look at this snapshot right now. We have to look it. All the things that he's funded throughout the years and the fact that some of the people who have been recipients of the grants and funding will go on to try to push back against this vision of a closed society, But But I think that I wouldn't say yeah, that's successful or or more mixed in terms of that. Results of those efforts. But we got this question from Helena, who wants you to discuss the clash between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and sorrows and how Hungarian culture influence or us it's work. Well, he is the reason that he went to Hungary early on in terms in his philanthropic life is because he is from Hungary knew the language and is familiar with that space. Um Borbon was an early recipient of sorrow spending. He went to Oxford on a sort of scholarship. Videsh back when it was not the ruling party. But a student group received money and, you know sorrows continued to support or bon for Many years. Hyung he There's a photo of them from 2010 when he gave money to Budapest after after a environmental disaster there. But Orban has unquestionably turned on Soros, and I think it's you know, there's some people who speculate that Oh, it's because he doesn't want to know why do you want anything and or Oh, it's because he has issues with his own father, and so therefore he has issues with sorrows. But ultimately it goes back Tio something that another person who rode him with comments said, which is that in going after Sorros, you can create a political enemy without actually legitimizing or paying attention to your really political opponents and While de legitimizing and marginalising those in your society who have legitimate criticisms of it. So I think Soros has proven to be a very effective boogeyman for Prime Minister Orban. We got this message from Frank Vogel. He's chair of the Partnership for Transparency Fund Transparency Fund, he says. I first met Soros is the kofta funder of anti corruption organization Transparency International in the mid 19 nineties. I learned over the years that no single philanthropist has done more to promote freedom and transparent and accountable government. His money supports large numbers of people in many countries who are at the cutting edge of human rights and pro democracy advocacy, Frank Thanks for that message, and we are talking to the author of the Influence of Soros, Emily Tam Kin. She's also US editor for the new Statesman. And I want to bring another voice into this conversation Been. Collins is a reporter at NBC News, and he joins us now been welcome back to one a day. So you know you've been listening along to the conversation and help us better understand when we started to see George Soros be presented as this this boogeyman of sorts. This is a decades long, really smear campaign that has over time because of the way right wing bloggers and the way social media has evolved. I sort of started to take over that ecosystem, and this is how it works in these ecosystems in far right blog's that started off. I think people associate far right blog's things like Breitbart, Really. It's smaller Smaller blog's little Wordpress sites, forms things like that, where serves sort of became a catch all for corruption in the Democratic Party, or general or just generalized malfeasance. It was a lot easier. Just pin it on. One person certainly happened with Hillary Clinton. I think we've all been alive the best 10 years. Well, we'll see how that happens where you know any sort of malfeasance that happens within the party gets Pinned back to her. That's sort of evolved over the last five years, specifically with George Soros, in part because it works. It's very easy. It's Ah, You know, it's five letters. It works a lot easier. In these spaces than going and explain the complex dynamics of what is? Ah, you know, Emily has talked about this. Ah, a frequently corrupt system in the United States of campaign finance. And Emily help us better understand the limitations of Soros's power..

Coming up next