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

Published by the LA Progressive on January 18, 2011
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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."