The [Jewish Daily] Forward was once a proud socialist paper whose editors, like many socialists, reluctantly fell in love with FDR and the New Deal and every more reluctantly co-mingled with the hopelessly corrupt Democratic Party, which was, even then, not quite as hopeless so as the Republican Party. In any case, much has changed and The Forward is very much aware that its readership today is as much as a quarter right-of-center, including some Ultra-Orthodox... who are not right-of-center, but just garden variety fascist. Fascists have rallied behind Marjorie Taylor Greene and have painted her in the bright hues of a martyr to their world of grievances. So how would The Forward handle her recent <>foray into inevitable, classic anti-Semitism</>? After all, a right-wing evangelical group, Christians United for Israel, just called for GOP leaders to "condemn all those who traffic in antisemitic tropes" and remove Greene from committees pending a full review of her past statements, and the Republican Jewish Coalition called her latest conspiracy theory "indefensible and unacceptable" while the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations-- which includes right-wing groups like AIPAC and American Friends of Likud-- called for a "swift and commensurate response" from congressional leaders. Would the Forward revert to its usual on-the-other-handism?
On Friday, PJ Grisar warned Forward readers that Greene's latest conspiracy-- the "Jewish Lasers"-- are no laughing matter. "Antisemitism," wrote Grisar, "is a hell of a drug" and, like many anti-Semites before her how could could she not go after the Rothschild's since, as she said, "there are too many coincidences to ignore?"
Could Jews just roll their eyes and ignore her? Laugh it off? Grisar noted that "Jewish Twitter was unsure of what to make of this, perhaps her most insane claim yet. Many found the premise funny-- awful tropes notwithstanding-- because, I mean, Jewish space lasers seem like something Mel Brooks promised us in the teaser for History of the World Part II.
There’s no harm in memeifying something no reasonable person could possibly believe. Is there?
The laser theory resembles the original definition of a big lie, first described as a distortion of truth so outrageous no one could believe someone would be audacious enough to make it up.
All it’s missing to meet our current standards for the term is a sustained campaign by those in power and a precise political aim. But Greene’s rise proves there are holes in the barrier between fringe, nutty beliefs and policymakers.
It’s one thing for Greene the private citizen to put a lie like this out into the world, it’s quite another when she is a U.S. representative. And to dismiss these pre-office musings as not applicable now is to miss the power of the online lobby that elevated her to Congress to begin with. It’s a cohort that, like their champion, buys into Trump’s big election lie, believes the elite subsist on baby blood, is obsessed with Jewish control and questions whether jet fuel can melt steel beams.
Conspiracy theories, both bizarrely novel and steeped in centuries of prejudice, now have a voice in government. We need only look to the life of the man who coined the term “big lie” to see the dangers of that arrangement.
But that’s why I think poking fun at these conspiracy theories-- or challenging them with facts-- is actually imperative.
Jew lasers and notions like it can and should be laughed out of town, before they make their way to the Capitol.
The Forward also decided it was time to do an update on the Rothschild's-- a where are they today kind of thing. One married Paris Hilton's sister, Nicky. "Another is an environmental activist in Santa Monica, California who crossed the Pacific Ocean in Plastiki, a craft made of recycled plastic bottles. Another tragically died just two weeks ago at age 57. They invest, run business interests, donate generously to a variety of causes, and not one of them has ever caused a forest fire with laser beams. Today’s Rothschilds aren’t as rich as Bezos and Gates, but they still command the attention of antisemites and conspiracy mongers... The Rothschild family has featured heavily in antisemitic conspiracy theories since at least the 19th century. If you believed the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the past, you’d think the family caused both Communism and capitalism, World War I and II, 9/11, the recent Malaysian Air disaster and-- oh, they sank the Titanic."
At the same time the editors of The Forward were figuring out how to deal with the newest GOP super-star, the Washington Post was publishing an unambivalent column by Kathleen Parker, The GOP Isn't Doomed; It's Dead. "With the electoral eviction of Donald Trump from the Oval Office," she wrote, "Republicans had a shot at redemption and resurrection. They missed and failed-- and deserve to spend the next several years in political purgatory. The chaos now enveloping what’s left of the Grand Old Party after four years of catering to an unstable president is theirs to own. Where conservatism once served as a moderating force-- gently braking liberalism’s boundless enthusiasm-- the former home of ordered liberty has become a halfway house for ruffians, insurrectionists and renegade-warriors... The party’s end was inevitable, foreshadowed in 2008 when little-boy Republican males, dazzled by the pretty, born-again, pro-life Alaska governor, thought Sarah Palin should be a heartbeat away from the presidency. The dumbing down of conservatism, in other words, began its terminal-velocity plunge, with a wink and a pair of shiny red shoes. Palin cast a spell as potent as the poppy fields of Oz, but turned the United States into her own moose-poppin,’ gum-smackin’ reality show. Forget Kansas. We’re not in America anymore."
The road from Palin to Taylor Greene (or Mad Cawthorn or Lauren Boebert) could have been predicted... but wasn't. "Suddenly," wrote Parker, "the 'good ones are worried about their newest member, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a QAnon-promoting female version of Trump-- only without the charm. You begin to see how this monster mutates like a certain virus into ever-more-dangerous versions of itself.'"
Going forward, not only will House Republicans be associated with a colleague who “liked” a Twitter post calling for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s murder. They’ll be attached to QAnon, which promotes the extraordinary fiction that Trump was leading a war against Satan-worshiping pedophiles and cannibals, whose leadership includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and, oh, by the way, yours truly, as well as U2’s Bono.
To those Republicans who can read: You own all of this. The party isn’t doomed; it’s dead. The chance to move away from Trumpism, toward a more respectful, civilized approach to governance that acknowledges the realities of a diverse nation and that doesn’t surrender to the clenched fist, has slipped away. What comes next is anybody’s guess. But anyone who doesn’t speak out against the myths and lies of fringe groups, domestic terrorists and demagogues such as Trump deserves only defeat-- and a lengthy exile in infamy. Good riddance.