tags: conspiracy theories,Holocaust denial,antisemitism,Marjorie Taylor Greene
Steve Hochstadt is a writer and an emeritus professor of history at Illinois College.
My brother emailed me to make sure I knew that we Jews had space laser technology capable of starting wildfires out West. Naturally he wondered who controlled it--Orthodox or Reform? But here’s the question I asked him as we corresponded about the suggestion by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene that we, the Jews, in the guise of the always convenient Rothschilds, pointed a laser from the sky to start fires in California: “If we could burn up any place in the world, why would we pick California?”
Greene is absurd to publicly broadcast an idea that stupid. But many people where she lives sent her and her message to Washington. She imagines a plot reminiscent of those scary 1950s movies about some impossible bogeyman. Now the bogeywoman sits in Congress, and everybody is listening.
She is one sharp thorn on a much bigger political club wielded by American conservatives so they can run our governments. That club is the invention and propagation of weird tales of horror, often called “conspiracy theories,” where the monsters are liberals, or even better, Jewish liberals.
If Jews, whatever group of humans that label might bring to mind among her fans, had so much power, why would we burn California, where one out of every six American Jews live? Explaining the central absurdity of that idea, or of the idea that mass shootings whose blood and death we all know about were actually a hoax, or of the idea that Democrats stole a national election, is where these theories fail.
Holocaust denial created a model for modern absurdity theories by focusing on facts. Millions of words and photographs and diagrams and scientific-sounding analyses have been created to explain why any particular known fact about the Holocaust is made up. David Irving, the premier Holocaust denier with historical credentials, sued Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for libel, because she labeled him “a Holocaust denier, falsifier, and bigot,” who “manipulated and distorted real documents”, as Wikipedia puts it. Richard Evans, the British historian who advised Lipstadt’s defense, made an official report: “Not one of [Irving's] books, speeches or articles, not one paragraph, not one sentence in any of them, can be taken on trust as an accurate representation of its historical subject.”
Like most other crazies who go public, Irving was eventually unmasked, but he screwed around with facts for decades, because his political message about Jews was welcome in many corners of the Christian world. But abstracted from the slippery “facts” that dominate Holocaust deniers’ writings, the most absurd part of their message is rarely addressed. For 75 years, “the Jews” enlisted millions of the most prominent and powerful people across the world to recreate history in word and location, and to promulgate in every way that impossible history as truth.
Antisemites have never underestimated our cleverness, although denying the evidence that some of us actually are smart. So how do they explain how we did that? I don’t mean how we got some old man to talk about non-existent gas chambers in Auschwitz or how we forged a document enumerating the people whom Nazis had just shot. How did we bring that immense conspiracy into being and how have we maintained it all these years? We must be really powerful, beyond the imagining of Greene and her ilk, if we could create these enormous conspiracies without leaving a trace.
Where are the letters, emails, photographs, diagrams, and web pages, even self-constructed á la Irving, showing us, the Jews, creating and leading that conspiracy? Or creating the magic laser to incinerate our friends instead of our enemies? How did the libs manage to both rig elections in Republican states and then create the worldwide spectacle that Biden won?
Mike Pompeo spent two months since the election pretending that Biden’s victory was not legitimate. For years, he has exercised vast control over a network of highly trained people around the world, many of whom had been sent out as emissaries of Trump’s ideology. But none of them sent back a bit of evidence explaining how or why every government in the world has dismissed the stolen election fantasy. If Pompeo had anything that could be bent, twisted, chopped up and regurgitated as proof that Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin and Justin Trudeau all signed on to the plot to rig the election and defend it afterward, why hasn’t he produced it? Is he waiting for his next political campaign?
No, I think there is another reason. It seems to work quite well to just assume that central absurdity without explanation. Somehow it is not important to explain how a group of people, many under constant scrutiny by all forms of media, could be so secretive, so organized, so depraved and evil, to run a vast child abuse ring underneath a pizza place in Washington DC. The original Reddit post that touched off this particular conservative flight into absurdity, claimed in fact the abuse was easy to spot: “Everyone associated with the business is making semi-overt, semi-tongue-in-cheek, and semi-sarcastic inferences towards sex with minors. The artists that work for and with the business also generate nothing but cultish imagery of disembodiment, blood, beheadings, sex, and of course pizza.”
The absence of any explanation of the origins and inner workings of these great conspiracies, the successful veil of utter secrecy that the world’s official bodies have cast over their diabolical plans, implies a much larger conspiratorial network. Pizzagate and Holocaust denial and our space laser require full participation from police and security forces at all levels. Recent conservative absurdity theories have thus transformed the FBI from heroes of the fight against crime into co-conspirators. Trump had no choice but to include denunciations of the FBI in his flights into the absurd.
Holocaust denial is co-terminous with antisemitism. The people whom the deniers reach already believe that Jews are capable of unimagined evil, that we are all in it together, that we exercise unbounded but secret power. They don’t have to be convinced by some sleight of hand of the theorists. Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t have to explain to her voters why we Jews would dream up a remarkable plan to burn out our own. Her followers are already there. They just want to know the details. In this case, Greene may be up a creek. No “space expert” has jumped in to explain our technological blueprints. She might have to walk away from that one entirely. She can blame this one on her “team” of social media producers, probably the same people who shared a video on her Facebook page where Nick Griffin, a well-known British Holocaust denier, says an “unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists and Zionist supremacists have schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation.”
The seemingly less absurd absurdity theories that are twisting our national politics, “Stop the Steal” or “I wasn’t defeated, I am really President,” have just enough details to obscure the more potent, unspoken, and fundamentally preposterous idea behind them. The Dems stole the election, they created a Disney spectacle of victory in an endless loop, and they convinced tens of millions of ordinary Americans, everyone’s neighbors and relatives, to go along. I swear this is true, because some people I don’t know, with no inside knowledge, say it’s true, and I share their hatreds.
The believers in new undetectable conspiracies by vast numbers of satanic people overlap with the generations of promoters of Holocaust denial. That denial began with the perpetrators themselves as they were killing millions of satanic Jews, who were trying to take over the world. Without lasers.
February 1, 2021
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