Back Y Combinator CEO boosts 'Soros' conspiracy theory

Y Combinator CEO boosts 'Soros' conspiracy theory

The Point: Y Combinator CEO (and Network State member) Garry Tan’s Twitter antics are getting weirder by the day.

The Backstory: My work clearly annoys Garry Tan, the influential tech plutocrat currently trying to take over San Francisco City Hall.

My writings have exposed his tight connection with Balaji Srinivasan’s Network State cult. In addition, I have criticized the violent imagery and symbolism Tan continues to inject into our local political discourse.

It makes sense that Tan would want to get back at me somehow. But his methods seem a bit unsound for a CEO of his stature.

Last week, he promoted false and defamatory lies about my time working for Kamala Harris and the San Francisco Examiner. This week, he’s indulging a conspiracy theory involving this newsletter and George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who is a main target of antisemitic right-wing conspiracy theories.

In a (very nutty) nutshell: On June 2, a local blogger known for posting false and defamatory statements asserted that my work is possibly being funded by either Soros or his Open Society Foundation.

“Interesting,” responded Tan to the bizarre tweet, imitating Elon Musk, who has regularly boosted the visibility of antisemitic or racist tweets by replying to them.

The evidence of my alleged Soros affiliation? In the early 2000s, George Lakoff – an emeritus professor of cognitive science at UC Berkeley with whom I regularly collaborate – founded a nonprofit that may have received a grant from the Open Society Foundation.

That nonprofit, the Rockridge Institute, hasn’t existed since 2008, and I didn’t meet Lakoff until 2012. Further, we didn’t start working together until around 2016.

So it’s beyond absurd to suggest that these details somehow constitute a connection between Soros and me. But Garry Tan apparently considers this compelling evidence of a vast conspiracy to … publish this local newsletter?

Antisemitic roots of the 'Soros conspiracy' trope

The choice to depict Soros, who is Jewish, as the hidden puppet master behind this humble publication taps into a very popular right-wing conspiracy theory drenched in antisemitism.

From an Anti-Defamation League article headlined "The Antisemitism Lurking Behind George Soros Conspiracy Theories":

 In the United States, Soros long has been a favored target of the so-called alt right and other right-wing extremists. Their online echo chambers reverberate with conspiracies about Soros, accusing him of attempting to perpetrate “white genocide” and push his own malevolent agenda. In a report published earlier this year that analyzed antisemitic speech on Twitter, ADL found that Soros figured prominently in a significant number of antisemitic tweets.  One noteworthy allegation claimed that Soros was responsible for the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. Other tweets referred to his Jewish heritage in pejorative terms and claimed that he’s trying to undermine all of Western civilization.”

 More recently, we have seen conspiracy theories surface that blame Soros of funding protests against the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. A series of hateful posters on this topic were plastered on colleges campuses, all part of a campaign engineered by the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website. And just this week anti-Muslim advocate Frank Gaffney sent an e-mail blast to his supporters asking, “Is George Soros the anti-Christ?” and suggesting that his record ‘is one of such malevolence and destruction that he must at a minimum be considered the anti-Christ’s right-hand man.”

Scary stuff – and certainly not the kind of narrative that the CEO of an esteemed San Francisco tech company should be touching with a 20-foot pole. But that's where we are in June 2024.

Frustrated by my writing, Tan and his troll minions are using a popular antisemitic conspiracy trope to simply invent a fake Soros connection here. (In a twist, one Twitter observer pointed out that Soros' fund has invested heavily in tech, including in Y Combinator companies.)

Doesn’t Tan have more important things to do with his 442,000-follower Twitter account? Shouldn’t he be touting Y Combinator-funded startups, hawking digital monkey art or pushing cryptocurrencies?

Why does he spend Sunday playing with malign Twitter trolls instead of playing with his children? (I was enjoying the day with friends in a sunny Oakland beer garden and not thinking about Tan at all when this Soros conspiracy stuff dropped.)

The truth about my 'funding'

It’s hilarious – and also a bit sad – that Tan and his ilk assume that someone must be paying me to write. They apparently cannot imagine any human motivation beyond money. It does not occur to them that a person could simply be inspired to action because they care about things like community, democracy and truth.

Alas, this is the case.

This newsletter has two funders. First, there’s me. I paid $108 to Ghost (a nonprofit Substack alternative) to host this newsletter, and I do all the reporting and writing. Second, there’s one paid subscriber in Solano County who appreciates my work on California Forever and dropped $50 for a subscription (thank you!).

That’s all folks!

The rest is just me doing what I believe needs to be done. In return, I receive what Jerry Brown once called "psychic rewards" – the satisfaction of knowing you have done your best to serve your purpose.

Last year, I saw a story that wasn’t being told, and I decided to tell it. And here we are – in a place far beyond my wildest dreams – with a main subject of my work (Tan) tilting at windmills and painting his brand with the fetid mud of alt-right conspiracy theory.

But let’s count our blessings. Tan is clearly my most dedicated reader, and he’s doing everything he can to call attention to this important work. As a popular tech bro saying goes: “Haters do the best marketing.”

More to come…

Parallel Mirror rebrands!

Effective immediately, this newsletter is now called The Nerd Reich. It will still focus on the weird tech authoritarian politics emanating from California these days. But you'll now find the newsletter at http://www.thenerdreich.com. Please excuse any hiccups with link forwarding, etc., as I make this transition.

I did not come up with this wonderful name. After my recent stories, someone on Twitter informed me that some people had been referring to the tech authoritarians as “the Nerd Reich” for several years. And, of course, it’s just too perfect to pass up…

There was a podcast called the Nerd Reich, but it’s been dormant for many years. Luckily, thenerdreich.com was completely available for $12 on Squarespace. And here we go!

Taylor Lorenz podcast

In case you missed it: I joined tech journalist Taylor Lorenz to talk about Garry Tan, California Forever and the Network State cult on the Power User podcast. Highly recommend a listen if you want a primer of what Balaji Srinivasan calls “tech Zionism” and how it’s manifesting in Northern California in 2024.

Listen by clicking the link below!


Is a Tech Utopia a Dystopia for Everyone Else? by Power User with Taylor Lorenz


source: https://www.thenerdreich.com/y-combinator-ceo-garry-tan-soros-conspiracy/