Reviving the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

A film critiquing the Federal Reserve bears an uncanny resemblance to the popular anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Is it accidental?

Perhaps exploiting the populist rage directed at "fat cat" bankers since the economic collapse of 2008, a 30-minute YouTube film entitled "The American Dream" has been gaining traction since its July 2010 debut at FreedomFest, a libertarian-conservative convention held in Las Vegas.  In several interviews, the film's creator, Tad Lumpkin, has claimed his cartoon-style effort is essentially an easier-to-understand version of Friedrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” which was a seminal attack against collectivism.  Maybe Lumpkin thinks so, but there is a troubling undercurrent which revisits one of the oldest anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in existence:  we are all slaves of Jewish bankers who run the entire world.

The basis of this theory comes from the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" the origins of which go back to a pamphlet published in 1797 by French Jesuit Abbe Barruel, who blamed the French Revolution of 1789 on a conspiracy of Freemasons. Non-Jewish French satirist, Maurice Joly, expounded on the idea with a pamphlet intended as a satire, but German anti-Semite (and Prussian spy) Hermann Goedsche, writing as Sir John Retcliffe, plagiarized Joly's work, and his non-satirical version was translated into Russian in 1872.  A consolidation of his work was published as the "Rabbi's Speech" in 1891.  A redacted version created by the "Okhranka," (Russian secret police) gave birth to the familiar title, "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in 1903, which told the story of Jewish elders meeting in Switzerland in 1897 to plot the destruction of Christianity and world domination by Jews.

Despite the knowledge that the Protocols was a plagiarized forgery, it took until 1993 before a Russian court, the country from whence it had originated, declared it as such.  In the ninety year interim, they were used to "explain" world events in a fashion similar to the Biblical predictions of Nostradamus, or as Henry Ford senior remarked in 1927, "(t)he only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on."  What Mr. Ford and others were referring to can be boiled down to an idea that still resonates: every attempt to achieve some kind of extra-national organizing, aka "globalization," can be traced back to the Protocols.

"The American Dream" re-invigorates this idea.  The film introduces a character named Pile.  Pile wants a house, many of which are shown springing up like plants, so he signs a contract offered by a banker and proceeds to go to sleep convinced he has realized his American dream.  When he wakes up, the dream has become a nightmare with his house in foreclosure, and Pile wondering "how could this happen?"  At that point, in a take-off on "Back to the Future," a Delorian appears out of nowhere containing one of Pile's boyhood friends, Hartman. Pile and Hartman begin a journey where, as invisible characters in the "space-time continuum," they observe how the banks operate, and the history of banking itself.

The first part of the movie explains the origins of the current economic crisis, showing how cheap money and easy credit led to the bubble which popped in 2008.  The principle villain at this point is the the Federal Reserve, which supplied the banks with the cash to fuel the bubble.  We are taken back to the 10th century to learn about the origins of money, along with the gold standard and its abandonment, characterized by Hartman as "thievery" and the beginning of the worst excess of all:  "how to turn worthless paper into gold."

So far simplistic, but still rather innocuous.  Then it begins.  A sign, "House of Rothschild" is shown in front of a Frankenstein-like castle where bankers, whose faces are red shields, give birth to a tentacled monster with the same shielded face.  "Thus was invented the ultimate machine to steal real money and enslave all the nations on earth," intones Hartman.  In fact, the Protocols centers on an almost identical notion of nation-state servitude:  "Whether a State exhausts itself in its own convulsions, whether its internal discord brings it under the power of external foes--in any case it can be accounted irretrievably lost: it is in our power."

The film moves on to the Battle of Waterloo, depicted as a chess board with the tentacled monsters (in the Protocols this is the role of the German Jewish bankers) funding both sides, re-invigorating another long-discredited conspiracy theory. The creation of war for control and economic gain is another major activity of the Zion elders. Red Shield bankers are then shown inflicting economic misery on England, as a result of the war, and then moving on to America.

Through a series of historical vignettes, the video depicts bankers as both evil and unnecessary, without whom America experienced a renaissance.  The plot moves on to a 1910 "secret meeting" held at the J.P. Morgan estate among several of America's richest individuals, who argue about who will lead the newest central bank. Out of that meeting, in conjunction with their "men in government," these titans, led by an unidentified "Supreme Master Leader" (also with a red-shielded face) create the Federal Reserve and the IRS.  Thus begins the "greatest theft in human history," in which bankers deliberately create booms and busts to rob people of ever-increasing amounts of their money and property.  The protocols also recounts that an "aristocracy of [the elders'] educated class headed by the aristocracy of money" destroys the "natural and genealogical aristocracy of the goyim [non-Jews]," from whom the Jews covertly seize their property.

JFK is shown as the last president who stood up to the Fed by allowing the Treasury to issue money--which the film implies was the reason for his assassination.  After that, a collage of several familiar major banking institutions are shown "decimating our nation's wealth for the benefit of a few."  Jews of the Protocols were said to have control of monopolies and "reservoirs of colossal riches, upon which even large fortunes of the goyim will depend to such an extent that they will go to the bottom together with the credit of the States on the day after the political smash." This view of abject dependency on the invention of the finance system and the power it allows bankers and/or Jews to wield over nations is a central theme of both "The American Dream" and the Protocols.

In the final scene, a take-off of the movie "300," a battleground scenario depicts a future revolution pitting ordinary Americans against the bankers.  The bankers seek a non-violent surrender and a send a pre-battle emissary to negotiate terms.  The emissary is revealed to be former Bush 43 Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, a Jewish American who claims "his" bankers "own the corners of the earth."  He attempts to bribe Hartman to switch sides.  Compare this with the following from the Protocols: "We have in our service persons of all opinions, of all doctrines, restorating [sic] monarchists, demagogues, socialists, communists, and utopian dreamers of every kind. We have harnessed them all to the task: each one of them on his own account is boring away at the last remnants of authority, is striving to overthrow all established form of order." Hartman resists the temptation.  In the final scene, he kills Paulson and the battle to rescue America begins.

"The American Dream" is remarkably consistent with respect to its heroes and villains.  Bankers are rapacious, those that borrow money, helpless victims.  There is no effort whatsoever to explain why America's various central banks, including the Federal Reserve, were created, other than to imply that it was nothing more than a plot to enrich the few at the expense of the many.  No explanation of how the banking system really works was apparently seen as necessary.

That this film is gaining traction is unsurprising.  In a nation where far too many Americans are woefully short of historical and/or economic knowledge, a simplistic cartoon which, by accident or design (giving creator Tad Lumpkin the benefit of the doubt here), reinforces prejudices many people would already like to believe is sure to be popular.  No doubt much of that popularity is reinforced by the idea that this film completely absolves Americans of their own responsibility in, for example, buying more house than they could afford, or running up far too much credit card debt.  This lack of knowledge coupled with prejudice can also be traced to the Protocols:  "We have fooled, bemused and corrupted the youth of the goyim by rearing them in principles and theories which are known to us to be false although it is by us that they have been inculcated."

In fairness, "The American Dream" presents legitimate points with regard to an "end the Federal Reserve" perspective.  But proponents of this view should be aware of other less apparent perspectives to which they are attaching themselves.  Either Mr. Lumpkin is historically unaware of what he's promoting, or he's as swept up in conspiracy theories as those he attempts to "educate."   Either way, "The American Dream" might be best described with a quote by Mark Twain:

"The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain't so."

Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.

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