If you think the current US history where the Russians and the far right have been spreading “fake news,” propaganda and disinformation designed to sow the seeds division, discord, hatred for particular minority within the United States and other democratically run countries, then you’d be wrong.
One of my blogging family, Roger of Woebegone but Hopeful reminded me of this part of world history.
In the 1902’s there was the wide-spread conspiracy theory/ “fake news” story about how the Jewish population had plans to rule the world. It was called The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.
As per an ADL report, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is a classic in paranoid, racist literature. Taken by the gullible as the confidential minutes of a Jewish conclave convened in the last years of the nineteenth century, it has been heralded by anti-Semites as proof that Jews are plotting to take over the world. Since its contrivance around the turn of the century by the Russian Okhrana, or Czarist secret police, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” has taken root in bigoted, frightened minds around the world.”
“The booklet’s twenty-four sections spell out the alleged secret plans of Jewish leaders seeking to attain world domination. They represent the most notorious political forgery of modern times. Although thoroughly discredited, the document is still being used to stir up anti-Semitic hatred.”
Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company purchased the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and brought it to the US. Between 1920 and 1927, he had the document translated into English and printed it along with a series of articles accusing the Jews of using communism, banking, unions, gambling, even jazz music to weaken the American people and their culture. The series of articles was later published as a book, which sold over a half million copies in the US and was translated into 16 languages, including German. Herr Hitler read the book and quoted from it, often. Later Mr. Ford publicly apologized for spreading a this lie. But how difficult is it to “undo” a lie? Why do some people find it easier to believe a horrible, outrageous lie than a simple truth that can be easily verified or debunked.
Does this bit of history resemble what is happening today?
Here’s the rest of the story…
On October 27, 2016, David W. Dunlap for the New York Times penned the following report, “1920-21 | Exposing the ‘Protocols’ as a Fraud”
Times Insider shares historical insights from The New York Times.
When talk turns to worldwide conspiracies, the long shadow of the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” purportedly a blueprint for Jewish world domination, can never be far away.
On Oct. 13, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, said his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, “meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers.”
The “Protocols” holds a tenacious grip on the popular conspiratorial imagination.
“But The Times has never portrayed it as anything other than a fraudulent work of anti-Semitic propaganda. (Though that fact might only further persuade believers of the document’s authenticity. After all, “Protocol No. XII” says a Jewish-controlled press will subjugate Gentiles’ minds “to such an extent that almost all of them see world events through colored glasses which we put over their eyes.”)
“Having originated in czarist Russia, the “Protocols” gained wide currency in America in 1920. It was published as “The Protocols and World Revolution” by Small, Maynard & Company of Boston. Also, the anti-Semitic Dearborn Independent, a weekly newspaper in Michigan owned by Henry Ford, introduced its readers to the “Protocols” as part of its “International Jew” series.”
“The first big article about the “Protocols” in The Times, on Dec. 1, 1920, carried news that it had been denounced by a conference of leading Jewish organizations as a “base forgery” and as a “recrudescence of medieval bigotry and stupidity.”
“Mr. Ford, the conference resolved, was a publisher of “puerile and venomous drivel.” And a “dupe.” (He eventually retracted the anti-Semitic articles, but it took him seven years.)”
“Editorially, The Times added its voice to the “Protocols” pile-on, calling it “about the strangest jumble of crazy ideas that ever found its way into print.”
“Outside of his business affairs,” the editorial added, “Mr. Ford is now nowhere seriously considered except as a cause of merriment.”
“The American Jewish Committee organized the conference. A leading member, Cyrus L. Sulzberger, was the father of Arthur Hays Sulzberger and the father-in-law of Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, whose own father, Adolph S. Ochs, published The Times. Did this connection help ensure that the conference would get a generous half-page of coverage? Probably. But Mr. Sulzberger’s participation was made clear to readers. Hardly the stuff of secret conspiracy.”
Nine months later came a definitive scholarly debunking of the “Protocols.” Philip Graves, a correspondent of The Times of London, exposed it as having largely been plagiarized from an 1864 book attacking the regime of Emperor Napoleon III of France. The original book took the form of an imagined dialogue between the philosophers Machiavelli and Montesquieu.
The New York Times devoted an entire page to the Graves exposé on the cover of its Special Features section of Sept. 4, 1921. “Proof That the ‘Jewish Protocols’ Were Forged,” the banner headline declared.
“Not everyone has accepted the proof, however, even today. So there is still currency to the words of former President William Howard Taft, a Republican, who attacked the “Protocols” in 1920.”
“One of the chief causes of suffering and evil in the world today is race hatred, and any man who stimulates that hatred has much to answer for,” Mr. Taft was quoted as saying in The Times. “
Link to article: 1920-21 | Exposing the ‘Protocols’ as a Fraud – The New York Times