A Michigan anti-hate organization says Karamo’s statements have “have anti-Semitism written all over them.”
Need to Know
- Karamo wrote that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson are “all part of the Soros minion club,” referring to Jewish philanthropist and billionaire George Soros.
- In invoking Soros as a sort of puppet-master, Karamo embraced a well-worn and anti-Semitic conspiracy: that of the Jewish cabal controlling politics and the economy.
- Karamo has been endorsed by former President Trump and spread lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him due to widespread voter fraud—a conspiracy theory that has been debunked time and time again.
MICHIGAN—Kristina Karamo, the likely Republican nominee for Michigan secretary of state, is facing criticism after making a pair of comments on social media in which she promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Michigan government officials and Jewish philanthropist George Soros.
In a Feb. 15 tweet, Karamo, a community college professor who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, wrote that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson—Karamo’s presumptive opponent this November—“ALL are Soros funded and are his minions.”
Hours later, Karamo—who, if elected, would be in charge of administering Michigan’s elections—took to Facebook, where she wrote that the trio of Democratic women were “all part of the Soros minion club.” She then claimed this meant that they “have horrible intentions for Michigan.”
In invoking Soros—a Jewish, Hungarian-American billionaire who often donates to liberal candidates and organizations—as a sort of puppet-master, Karamo became the latest conservative to embrace a well-worn and anti-semitic conspiracy: that of the Jewish cabal controlling politics and the economy.
“When we are talking about George Soros—a Hungarian billionaire who is Jewish, who is often recognized as being Jewish—and people tie his power to being Jewish, that is a problem,” said Carolyn Normandin, the regional director of ADL Michigan, a nonpartisan anti-hate organization. “When people talk about the governor or the secretary of state or the attorney general and being connected to that ‘Jewish Power,’ the nuance is antisemitic power conspiracy,”
Normandin said that Karamo’s statements are “disheartening” and “have anti-Semitism written all over them.”
“I think any time someone pulls out an anti-semitic trope about Jewish power … or people being afraid of Jewish power, yes, that is anti-Semitism,” she added.
(Editor’s Note: Soros is an investor in Courier Newsroom, which owns The ‘Gander, but does not have editorial control over content.)
Members of the local Jewish community also criticized Karamo’s comments. Rabbi Asher Lopatin, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee in Detroit, said that singling out Soros among all the wealthy liberal donors that contribute to candidates “smacks of anti-Semitism.”
“You can criticize Soros if you don’t like his views and you don’t like that he’s helping more liberal candidates, but then you can’t just single him out and if you are singling him out, that really smells of anti-Semitism,” Lopatin said.
Sarah Stevenson, a campaign spokesperson for Dana Nessel, who is Jewish, linked Karamo’s remarks to a growing extremism within the Republican Party.
“The GOP has abandoned all subtlety and now says the quiet part out loud; anti-Semitic dog whistles are no longer loud enough to satisfy their appetite,” Stevenson said in a statement. “Sadly, we’ve seen this kind of garbage all too often in Michigan.”
In April and May 2020, armed protesters rallied at, and in one case, stormed the Michigan Capitol to protest the state’s public health rules during the earliest months of the coronavirus pandemic. In some cases, they displayed swastikas, nooses, and Confederate flags.
Stevenson called on Ron Weiser, a co-chair of the Michigan Republican party and member of the US Holocaust Museum’s Memorial Council, to condemn Karamo’s remarks and other “anti-Semitic tropes” embraced by his own party.
“This vitriol against his own people comes with a steep price, as we’ve seen threats turn into real-world violence over and over again,” Stevenson said. “The deafening silence from Weiser and other GOP enablers is tacit approval of these sickening ideals.”
The Michigan Republican Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Karamo’s campaign also did not respond to a request for comment, but there’s little room for alternative explanations for her post, according to Normandin.
“I don’t even know what the purpose of a statement like that on her Facebook site would be except to promulgate hatred. Why does that help her?” Normandin asked. “Why does that statement—‘part of the soros minion club’—why does that statement help make a reason for somebody to vote for her? I believe it is intended to sow hatred, sow division.”
Karamo’s statement also appears to be inaccurate. According to campaign finance records, Soros donated $25,000 to Whitmer’s campaign committee last September, but has not made contributions to Nessel or Benson this cycle.
Karamo’s comments, while ugly, are not unique. The ADL is tracking “dozens of candidates” nationwide that are peddling disproven conspiracy theories, and instances of anti-semitism have been on the rise in recent years, according to the organization.
Normandin believes this uptick has been driven by uglier and more extreme political rhetoric from politicians.
“Candidates can have a really big impact on political statements and rhetoric,” she said. “When they enter into these sorts of [antisemitic] tropes, what they’re doing is disseminating hateful views.”
Karamo is no stranger to conspiracy theories. She is among the candidates who’ve embraced Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from him due to widespread voter fraud—a conspiracy theory that has been debunked time and time again. That someone who has lied about Michigan’s election system and sought to sow mistrust in it could soon be in charge of the state’s elections is concerning to Normandin.
“I’m very troubled by the idea of somebody who’s an extremist who is running for an office that would control processes,” she said. ”We don’t tell people who to vote for, we don’t tell people who not to vote for. We just give people facts, and the facts are that she’s peddled some very troubling conspiracy theories.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Rabbi Asher Lopatin.