(Bloomberg) -- A foundation backed by billionaire philanthropist George Soros slammed the political divide in the U.S. and called for more civility, one day after an apparent explosive device was discovered in the mail at his suburban New York home.
"The politics of hate that dominates our discourse today in the U.S. and in so many countries around the world breed extremism and violence," the Open Society Foundations said in a statement. "In this climate of fear, falsehoods and rising authoritarianism, just voicing your views can draw death threats.”
Soros, a former hedge fund manager who made his fortune with swashbuckling trades in currency and bond markets, is a longtime supporter and financial backer of progressive causes and Democratic politicians -- and a bogeyman of the right wing, which accuses him of all manner of anti-American plots. Most recently, President Donald Trump claimed that Soros paid people to protest Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation.
Police in Bedford, New York, a suburb 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City in Westchester County, confirmed they had been called to a residence at 3:45 p.m. Monday with a report of a suspicious package found in the mailbox. An employee opened the package and found what appeared to be a bomb. Police said the employee placed it in a wooded area before calling them. Bomb squad technicians blew up the device.
Soros wasn’t home at the time, according to the New York Times. The investigation has been turned over to the FBI’s joint terrorism task force. An FBI spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.
An immigrant from Hungary, Soros started his career in New York City in the 1950s and rose to fame as a hedge fund manager in 1992 by netting $1 billion from a bet that the U.K would be forced to devalue the pound.
In 2011, Soros returned outside investors’ money and converted his firm into a family office-- investing solely on behalf of himself, his family members and the Open Society Foundations, a worldwide network of philanthropies that promotes the rule of law and economic advancement.
The intensity of attacks against him from the right has increased this year. Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican of Florida, speculated publicly that Soros’s foundations had offered cash to people in South America to join a caravan of migrants traveling north toward to the U.S. Soros has denied the accusation.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he would ban Central European University, established by Soros to promote his vision of open societies, from enrolling new students.
"Words have consequences, and we bear a collective responsibility to create a more civil way to discuss our political differences," the Open Society Foundations said in Tuesday’s statement. "Respect for a diversity of opinions is fundamental to open society and that is the work that George Soros has devoted his life to. Our politics should be more about what we’re for than who we hate."
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