An American Nightmare

antisemitismAntisemitism, The Fed and The Rothschild Family

Recently Tom Degan posted a video about our financial crisis entitled “The American Dream”, which he thought would be educational for LA Progressive readers. LA Progressive Publisher Sharon Kyle encouraged me to write something about how to view this film for what it is.

“The American Dream” premiered at FreedomFest in July 2010 in Las Vegas, a libertarian-conservative convention. It is the opposite of a progressive video. Although the cartoon is cute and technically well-done, the analysis of our current economic problems is crude.

Beginning with a helpless average American who has bought a bigger house and is then foreclosed, the film presents a conspiracy theory about the Fed as the source of all financial evil, aided by the IRS and the U.S. Mint. According to the film, the Fed is completely uncontrolled by any American people or institutions, and is under the power of foreign bankers. Our taxes do not go to our government, but to others, in “the greatest theft in human history”. The Fed unconstitutionally prints money in order to further enslave Americans through debt.

At the end, a speech by JFK about the Communist menace is quoted, but he is portrayed as revealing “the secret powers behind the Federal Reserve”. Hence he was assassinated, so LBJ could release the Fed to do the bidding of the banking conspiracy. Patriots, who follow the teachings of our founding fathers, must do something right away, “before America is destroyed forever.” Exactly what they are supposed to do is unclear, aside from killing Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary under George Bush.

Because the far right can’t avoid it, there is just a bit of sexism incorporated here. Women appear only as big-breasted ornaments for the men who do all the business.

In several interviews and comments which can be seen on the web, filmmaker Tad Lumpkin claims his video is a kind of easy substitute for Friedrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”, a philosophical attack on collectivism which is revered in libertarian-conservative circles. But Hayek’s book says little about banks. It appears that “The American Dream” recycles in much more palatable form the claims of the 1998 “documentary” “The Money Masters- How International Bankers Gained Control of America”, which runs for over 3 hours. Lumpkin’s politics are clear from a short essay he wrote for Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Hollywood: “If we are not only to survive but thrive as a nation, we must separate the progressives who hate freedom from the conservatives that love it.”

This is standard fare for the theorists of the far right. The video originated in and circulates among the network of survivalist, conspiracy-mongering, far right websites, like rtr.org, which claims credit for the film at the end. But since its production, “The American Dream” has enjoyed considerable success beyond the right fringe, breaking through into much more mainstream conservative discussions. Breitbart’s website features Lumpkin, arguing that his film is mainstream conservatism, trying to combat the leftist bias in Hollywood. The film is promoted on the websites of Ron Paul and of the Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party of California is so excited about “The American Dream” that Lumpkin and his co-writer Harold Uhl will be invited speakers at their annual convention in April. Here is what their website says: “Tad Lumpkin and Harold Uhl, up-and-coming libertarian activists in the realm of digital entertainment, will present their fast-paced, laugh-filled, and deadly serious expose of the Federal Reserve, ‘The American Dream’.”

The film is available on YouTube, where hundreds of comments indicate its broad acceptance as a revelation about how we got to where we are.

My concern with “The American Dream” is its core message: Jews are the devil behind all financial evils. Unlike most antisemitic sources in our society, “The American Dream” is not blatant in its targeting of Jews. The word “Jew” is never spoken in the film, and nothing I have seen by the filmmakers refers to Jews. But the second half of the “The American Dream” reveals the shadowy power behind the Fed and behind the gradual takeover of the whole world during the past 200 years: the Rothschild banking family.

The narrative of “The American Dream” strings together a series of Rothschild “achievements”, all made up, but all firmly planted in antisemitic lore: they profited from both sides at Waterloo; they enslaved England and they planned to “enslave all the nations on earth”; they controlled Alexander Hamilton, who first proposed a national bank; all the big American bankers trembled in fear before the “Red Shield bankers” when the IRS took over our country in 1913.

“Red Shield” is the English translation for Rothschild. Unlike all the other characters in the film, the Rothschilds are portrayed as tentacled monsters and called “evil tyrants”. The many-armed octopus was a favorite symbol used by 19th-century antisemites to portray their claim that Jews tried to control everything. If you google “Rothschild red shield”, you come up with a host of survivalist, Christian fundamentalist, racist websites about the dangers of Jewish power and of the Fed.

The narrative of the video is an updated version of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, a 19th-century fabrication which allegedly proved that Jews planned, and had always planned, to take over the world. “Protocols” explained the history of the world as a Jewish conspiracy. In “The American Dream” that plan is carried out by the Rothschilds.

The problem with conspiracy theories is that they require a much broader participation than they claim. For example, the narrator in “The American Dream” asserts that “nobody can get into the Fed”, including the President and God. This portrait of the Fed being totally out of control by anyone in America requires that Congress is also party to the conspiracy, since Congress has statutory oversight over the Fed, and must approve the appointment of its Board of Governors and the Chair and Vice-Chair. Our Representatives and Senators must either be dupes or initiates into the conspiracy.

According to the believers in this whole scheme, President Obama is already part of the conspiracy. Another film popular with the Fed-haters is “Rothschild’s Choice: Barack Obama and the Hidden Cabal Behind the Plot to Murder America”.

There are many prejudices in America, ideas about evil that have endured for generations, sometimes below the surface of public consciousness. Yet there are always public expressions for all to see. One such prejudice is about government, all-powerful and perhaps with evil intent. The John Birch Society, and other extremist groups in the 1950s, reacted to Cold War fears by claiming that our own government was engaged in the worldwide conspiracy to make America communist. After 9/11, “theories” about how the Bush government lurked behind the terrorists proliferated. Proponents of this nonsense can still be found at such websites as 911truth.org.

Another prejudice with an even longer history in America is about Jews and Jewish power. The nationwide discrimination against Jews, keeping Jews out of positions of respect and power, did not prevent Henry Ford from claiming that Jews were dangerously close to controlling the US. In the 1920s Ford published “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem,” which was heavily based on the “Protocols”. Among Ford’s ideas was that Jews exercised control over the Federal Reserve. Hitler’s American consul gave Ford the Nazi Grand Cross of the German Eagle in 1938.

Father Charles Coughlin, the phenomenally popular radio priest, used the airwaves in the 1930s to propound his belief that an “international conspiracy of Jewish bankers” had caused the Depression, as well as the Russian Revolution. He inspired thousands of supporters to march in the streets of New York to protest the possibility that more Jewish refugees from the Nazis might be allowed into the US.

In my lifetime, antisemitism in American has reached its lowest point. Any discrimination against Jews in any place at any time is illegal, and liable to be denounced by all who know of it. Social attitudes have fundamentally changed in that time, so that openly antisemitic remarks are condemned, except in extreme right-wing circles.

Because the video begins by laying out the case against the Fed as the evil force behind our economic crisis and because the antisemitism is not trumpeted, this video is getting serious consideration across many websites which are solely focused on economics. For example, on endoftheamericandream.com, a conservative website with tendencies toward conspiracy theories about the government and liberals, “The American Dream” is touted as a useful primer about the causes of economic distress. There is some antisemitism among the online comments by readers, but the focus remains on the economic claims. As “The American Dream” makes its way around the virtual conservative world, the messages about the Jews who are the evil behind the evil become unremarkable and accepted.

“The American Dream” is a cartoon meant to evoke laughter, but at its core it tells a story steeped in an ancient hatred. It could be used as an educational tool and should be viewed by many Americans. But it does not teach anything useful about economics or history. It can demonstrate how subtle messages of hate can lurk behind cartoon images, how simplistic political formulas can be dangerous, and how persistent are irrational hatreds.

Steve HochstadtThe real American dream is different. It is not about buying bigger houses and it certainly is not about finding Jewish scapegoats for national problems. The American dream, the one pursued by the Jews who escaped antisemitism in Europe and whose son, grandson, and great-grandson I am, was freedom from irrational hatred.

Perhaps Lumpkin and Uhl are not antisemites. Maybe they incorporated the theme of the evil Rothschilds without realizing what they were doing. But their intentions or ignorance hardly matter. What does matter in 2011 is that mainstream libertarians and conservatives think a film that portrays Jews as evil monsters bent on world domination is worth showing, praising, and promoting. After decades of retreat, the antisemitism of Ford and Coughlin, and of the Nazis, is back, on a screen near you.

Steve Hochstadt

Illinois College
January 13, 2011

About Steve Hochstadt

Steve Hochstadt is professor of history at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, and author of Sources of the Holocaust (2004) and Exodus to Shanghai: Stories of Escape from the Third Reich (2012), both from Palgrave Macmillan. He writes a weekly column for the Jacksonville (IL) Journal-Courier and blogs for the History News Network. "His latest work is presented at www.stevehochstadt.com."

Comments

  1. wynsmyth says:

    One I didn’t see any rebuttal to the video itself just sniping and denial.
    Two, shame on the author for playing the Jew Card. The Federal Reserve is the 2 ton elephant in the living room that neither party will address.

  2. I was sent this video this evening and it is both anti government and anti semitic propaganda. slick yet cool psyops. You called it out correctly for what it is. It seduces the audience with cute cartoonish characters but it is really very sinister because of the pull it can have on its audience with its subliminal messages. I had to tell my young relatives not to endorse this video. Unlike you, I believe the authors knew exactly what they were doing with this video.

    Propaganda uses half truths to pull in its targeted audience. Usually very innocent folks who are undergoing tough times through no fault of their on and who in turn feel powerless to control what’s going on around them. Someone has to be blamed, rather its a group of people or institutions.

    Our economic woes was caused by many different things to include lax regulations on financial institutions, bundling of home loans into derivatives, market speculation, 1.3 trillion dollar tax cuts, two unpaid for wars, and unpaid subsidy to pharmaceutical companies and of course plain ole greed from wall street up to the individual. There is no great conspiracy about what happened to the US and the world economy. Everyone, for the most part, if they could, overextended themselves. Lets stop blaming and start working on solutions to get all of us out of this mess.

    Don’t fall for this simplistic explanation for our current economic woes. Propaganda like evil can be very ordinary and seemingly benign in all its ordinariness but over time its corrosive and dangerous affects can lead to dire consequences. Just like folks question the motives of government…they should also question the motives of ideologues. This video scared me and reminded me how easily we can turn against each other based on innuendos and lies. Let’s work together to solve this problem.

  3. It is absolutely true the Fed is a scam and prints money out of thin air. You don’t know anything about Fractional Reserve banking by claiming it is not true. Yes the Fed is a private bank. If you don’t agree prove it!

    Yes the Rothschild family are part of the conspiracy along with non Jewish families. Among them are the British Royal families, Dutch royal family, Obama, Bush, etc. It’s an old bloodline going back to Egypt and Babylon. They are the enemies of the Jewish people and have demonized them for thousand of years. They also founded the Nazis. Google “bush hitler”.

    You should not protect the Rothschild family and link them with Jews. What you write is one of the reason why some idiots out there think it is a Zionist conspiracy because some Jews attack those exposing the conspiracy.

    To make it absolutely clear. It is NOT A ZIONIST; JEWISH OR ISRAELI CONSPIRACY! PERIOD!

    Part of the agenda is they support the staged revolutions in the Arab countries to replace old puppets with more hardcore ones like Al Qaeda and Muslim brotherhood. The reason why is they want to play them against Israel when they get control Yes the bloodlines also support Hamas that brainwash children to blow themselves up and to hate Jews. Yes the western media(EU) are pro Gaza, anti Israeli because the bloodlines want to spread more hate against Israel.

    The bloodlines whom I have talked with incl Rothschild are satanic and they don’t care about Israel, Jews or the rest of us. They are the oldest enemies of the Jews and we should all join together. They want Jews, Muslims, Christians etc. to be divided.

  4. Antisemitism continues today in the U.S. and around the world. But I really don’t think this film’s maker intended to deliver an antisemitic message. I think you should ask him for a response.

  5. These are useful comments. I can’t prove in a short essay that this film targets Jews by making the Rothschilds into the devil. I don’t have to, though — antisemites have been using the Rothschilds as a stand-in for all Jews for centuries, as both Mac McKinney and Joe Weinstein say.

    I was clear that antisemitism is at its lowest point in American history. But it is still here, as the continued incidents of painting swastikas on synagogues across America and using Nazi imagery demonstrate. A film like “The American Dream” could contribute too making covert antisemitism acceptable again.

    Open hatred of Moslems is much more acceptable today. That should not divert us from combating prejudice where we see it. In fact, combating one prejudice usually helps to combat others. Antisemitism is one manifestation of the hatred of the other, which is played out in homophobia, anti-Arab violence, anti-black racism and other forms of ethnic discrimination. Fighting one is fighting all.

    Steve Hochstadt

  6. Thanks Steve for your in-depth comments with historic context.

    It’s bad enough that a film demonizes and falsely smears the Rothschild family. But, as commenter Linda T. may affect not to know, scapegoating identifiably Jewish characters is a typical first (and would-be intimidating) step to scapegoating Jews in general.

    Yes, as commenter Mac M. notes, wars (both US-elected and quite other ones too) and terror in Moslem countries inevitably are creating many Moslem casualties. But annually here in the USA, despite much supposition about anti-Moslem feelings, documented anti-Jewish incidents far outnumber documented anti-Moslem incidents. Both numbers pale in comparison with Christian victims of recent pogroms tolerated and even abetted by authorities (both governmental and Islamic) in Arab countries.

    Post 9/11 formidable militant Islamic supremacism is not merely a conspiracy theory. Islamic extremist regimes in Iran and elsewhere have made even a voluntary conversion from Islam a capital crime. Iraq, center of the Talmudic Jewish culture and home to Jews for at least 2600 years, has now been ethnically cleansed of Jews, with the far more numerous remaining Christians, also going back nearly 2000 years, now the chief targets.

  7. Mac McKinney says:

    You are exaggerating the degree of anti-Semitism in America, Steve; it is nothing like in Ford’s time. In fact, many on the Right, almost all the Fundamentalist Christians, extol Jews and Israel, albeit with the caveat that they are applauded largely because they get to bring on Armageddon, then convert or die.

    The Rothschilds have been the subject of conspiracy theories for two centuries, nothing new there. They definitely did help tip the scales in England’s favor during the Napoleonic Wars. How many intrigues some of them are into today is hard to phantom since intrigues are rarely opaque.

    The primary scapegoats today are not Jews, but Moslems, and Arabs in particular. They are the focus of intense, irrational hatred that is appalling. They are on the receiving end of our bullets and bombs externally to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars (that’s a lot of dead Moslems) and threats, fists and FBI harassment internally, peppered with attacks on Mosques now and then and often stereotyped with one of the biggest conspiracy theories out there, that Islam is trying to take over the world and kill all the non-believers.

  8. linda turillo says:

    you don’t prove your point. you just insinuate that jews are the real target behind the bogeyman rothschild.

    would have been useful to have carefully distinguished claims of culpability for economic collapse that are acceptable to “conservatives” and those that are never mentioned but substantial.

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