Our April Fools’ issue features satire about flat-earthers, xenomorphs, and a faked moon landing. Conspiracy theories are funny, and we love to mock them. It can be hard to understand why so many people truly believe them.
What’s behind conspiracy theories? What draws people to them?
Reporter Rin Alford writes that it almost always comes down to one thing: antisemitism.
Growing up as one of the only Jewish kids in most schools opened myself up to lots of “jokes” and “conspiracy theories.” I remember distinctly being told by a supposed friend that he believed Hitler would come back to life and mind control blond-haired, blue-eyed people to enact the second Holocaust.
While he thought it was a joke and I would not be affected, I was. This is not the only theory that I heard growing up.
Being exposed to media made me see that the world had denied the horrors of the Holocaust, with many chalking up this major event to just a “conspiracy theory.”
I believe that there can be fun in discussing cryptids and fan theories about what movies are connected and why. But when everything is considered, many theories lead back to antisemitism.
Conspiracy theories have been rooted in antisemitism for a long time, with most of them based around Nazi propaganda. The theories are always the same: a larger, richer force is trying to control the world. Most fingers are pointed towards wealthy Jewish families and companies.
Though it goes even farther back in history than the Nazis. One of the most notable antisemetic works of all time was a document called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which talked of a secret society of elite Jews that decided how to control the media, banks, and the world. It was written and published in Russia in 1903, and this is what most Nazis used to promote their anti-Jewish hatred prior to WWII.
Why is blame put on Jews so often?
I’ve asked this a lot and have never really received a clear answer.
My grandfather, a Christian, would tell you that it’s because “the Jews killed Jesus Christ,” while my eighth grade “friend” would tell me that “it’s funny to say things like that.”
But it’s not funny. People take it seriously.
In 2021, Pennsylvania was ranked number five in states with the most antisemitic incidents as reported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It has also been reported recently by the ADL that Pennsylvania has the highest level of hate group propaganda of any state.
With the increase in hate speech, it’s crucial to look at the cause of it and where these people are getting their information from.
A great example of this was Robert Bowers, who in 2018 went to the Tree of Life synagogue and killed 11 people, injuring another six.
He had done this because of a conspiracy theory that former President Donald Trump had tweeted about. The tweet was about supposed caravans from Honduras that were coming to illegally cross over the American border.
Trump had gone on to say that the Caravans were being funded and supported by outside sources. Bowers took this and ran with it, saying that Jews were the ones funding the caravans. He said that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) was responsible because they’re an organization that helps resettle refugees in the United States.
This can all be led back to the widespread theory that Jews are a money- and power-hungry group of people set on controlling the world.
Words can invoke fear, and fear has power.
Next time you read a conspiracy theory, think to yourself what kind of impact it might have on the masses.
Ready to celebrate April Fools’ Day? Find the rest of The Outsider 2022 here:
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Xenomorph Unleashed in Oakland: Did We Learn Nothing?
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