Caricature of Alfred Charles de Rothschild (1842-1918), the first Jew to be director of the Bank of England, published in “Vanity Fair” on May 31, 1884. Credit: Illustration by Leslie Ward via Wikimedia Commons.
Time magazine wanted to know former President Donald Trump’s role in the history of antisemitism in America.
“I don’t think Trump made America more antisemitic. America has always been antisemitic,” said Mike Rothschild, author Jewish Space Lasers: The Rothschilds and 200 Years of Conspiracy Theories. “What Trump did was give us permission to say this stuff, give us permission to really expound on these cockamamie theories.”
Rothschild (who is not related to his subject matter) explained that conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family began in 1846 with a bestselling pamphlet filled with lurid claims, such as that Nathan Rothschild—the most prominent son of the family’s patriarch, Mayer—had known how the battle of Waterloo would end. A further accusation claimed that another Rothschild son, James, failed to maintain his railroad out of greed and cheapness, leading to a fatal accident.
“After that, there is a massive industry of Rothschild conspiracy theories, some of which are just invented on the spot, and others utilize tropes like Jews being cheap, Jews being greedy, Jews being clannish, keeping their money to themselves,” he explained.
The author agreed with recent research pointing to an increase in antisemitism in America.
“There is a major, major upswing in public antisemitism, certainly in antisemitic acts of violence, acts of vandalism, flyers being distributed around neighborhoods, by these very Internet-savvy young racists who are getting attention for themselves,” he said.
Rothschild also warned that “antisemitism is very easy to couch in euphemisms. When you hear terms like ‘globalists,’ ‘foreign bankers,’ or ‘London financiers,’ that usually has some reference to the Jews.”