A video recently shared in a Facebook post by a Merced County Supervisor promotes a long-standing anti-Jewish conspiracy theory, according to an expert.
Rodrigo Espinoza, a first-term supervisor, shared a video about two weeks ago originally posted by a Facebook page called New World Order Exposition, which lifts its name from a “totally racist conspiracy theory,” according to Nella Van Dyke, a UC Merced professor who has researched extreme right groups.
“I think (the video) is less blatantly antisemitic, but it’s tied to this antisemitic idea. This is a conspiracy that’s been around for (300) years,” she told the Sun-Star. “This is a pretty common conspiracy theory among extreme right groups and their members.”
Reached by phone on Friday, Espinoza said he could not remember the video and was not sure he watched it. “Sometimes I watch them, but I can’t remember, there’s so many videos that go through Facebook,” he said. “I try to be careful.”
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He said he was not sure where the video originated, saying it was probably shared by a Facebook friend.
Though the video does not overtly reference Jewish people, Van Dyke said, it perpetuates a conspiracy theory that Jews hold a significant amount of the world’s wealth and secretly are controlling global politics, and therefore are a threat.
Van Dyke spoke to the Sun-Star without knowing which elected official made the post. “I think the person could not be motivated by racism. They could be ignorant or naive,” she said.
Whatever the motivation for sharing the video, “it’s troubling,” Van Dyke said.
The video goes on to claim that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were an “inside job,” allowed by the wealthy Jewish Rothschild family, another fallacy.
Espinoza stopped short of saying that sharing the video was a mistake. “It wouldn’t be negative if I shared it. Hopefully not,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s not negative.”
“I’d rather be supportive of people’s issues,” he said. “I just try to ‘like’ positive stuff.”
The subject of the purported wealth of the Rothschilds and of the common conspiracy theory was tackled most recently in March by Snopes.com, a fact-checking website that looks to educate people on urban legends and fake news.
“It should also be noted that only one member of the Rothschild family is included among Forbes’ 2015 list of the world’s billionaires: Benjamin de Rothschild, who was ranked at number 1121 with a net worth of $1.61 billion,” the author wrote.
The antisemitic video is just the latest in social media slip-ups from politicians.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s office says it has filed a report with Twitter after his verified account “liked” a video featuring pornographic content late Monday, and Cruz told reporters that a staff aide was responsible for mistakenly causing the video to appear on his page.
Cruz told the media that “it was a staffing issue and it was inadvertent. It was a mistake.” He did not say whether the staffer who had “liked” the tweet would be fired or have his or her access to his Twitter page removed, per the Associated Press.
In August, Atwater Mayor Jim Price posted a comment on the Facebook page of a community blog saying, in part, the salaries of the Merced County Board of Supervisors were “raping” county residents, which drew some ire from advocates of victims of sexual assault.
Price told the Sun-Star he used a “poor choice of words,” but stood by his views on supervisor salaries. He pointed to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office’s struggles in keeping deputies and hiring new ones.
In January, a number of vulgar social media posts got politicians in trouble following the Women’s March, including one from newly elected Indiana state Sen. Jack Sandlin, a Republican, who credited Donald Trump with getting “more fat women out walking than (former first lady) Michelle Obama did in 8 years.”