Walking to my car Tuesday morning across an incredibly stubborn patch of ice that just refuses to go away, I thought to myself how great it would be if I could control the weather.
Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, let me be clear: I am no Bond villain (although technically, meteorological control hasn’t appeared yet as a plot device in a Bond film), but I am sometimes a slave to the churning of the planet’s air masses.
Had I been able to control the weather, not only would that ice not have been a hindrance, but I wouldn’t have had to fly through that terrible thunderstorm years ago delivering a client’s new plane. Why, if I had the jet streams under my command, we’d be enjoying spring right now — as the calendar itself says we should — instead of digging out of the fourth nor’easter of the year.
I’m sorry to say that despite the massive gains and some less-than stellar attempts — Israel did experiment, albeit unsuccessfully, with cloud-seeding technology — we as human beings are no more able to control the weather than we are the rehabilitation of Markelle Fultz’s shoulder and aim.
And yet, if you were to ask Washington, D.C., city councilman Trayon White, he might tell you that not only is controlling the weather possible, but the Jews do it all the time, and to his detriment.
“Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation,” White says in a video taken through his windshield March 16 at the eruption of flurries during his drive through the capital. “And D.C. keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”
Yes, you read that correctly. The “Rothschilds,” i.e. Jewish financiers, are “controlling the climate to create natural disasters.” To be sure, it is an obnoxiously anti-Semitic claim, harkening back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the notion that we’re the ones pulling the world’s strings. But it’s also so preposterously fanciful as to make it difficult to refute while keeping a straight face.
The statement came a matter of weeks after Russian leader Vladimir Putin made an equally vile comment against Jews, suggesting in the context of an NBC News interview that by virtue of their ethnicities, those responsible for election tampering in the United States aren’t actually Russian.
“Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked,” he said.
Putin’s equating “Jewish” with “not Russian” earned condemnations from the standard group of our community’s defenders, including the Anti-Defamation League. But his comments, while abhorrent and evincing a kind of anti-Semitism that will forever view Jews as “the other,” did not, in the grand scheme of things, rise to the level of something particularly dangerous. Unlike the D.C. council’s resident conspiracy theorist, Putin didn’t specifically target Jews.
But White’s offered peek into the inner workings of his clearly warped sense of reality also shouldn’t get our blood pressure rising too much. Neither, for that matter, should the ravings of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whose continued anti-Jewish diatribes still manage to get otherwise well-meaning individuals trapped in a web of Jewish community indignation when they fail to quickly or sufficiently condemn his brand of lunacy.
Is anti-Semitism a problem? Absolutely.
Its danger exists in its propensity to harm by virtue of falsely impugning a group solely by virtue of its immutable characteristics. And there are those who continue to harbor it on both the left and right.
But are we as a community in any danger because wackos continue to exist on the fringes, maybe even approaching those who wield actual power through the chance meeting? I don’t think so.
One time in Texas, I was shopping at a Walmart when a sales associate, seeing my kippah, came over to start a conversation. He wanted to know where my bag of gold was.
“What?” I asked him. “You know, the little bag all of you carry. My mother told me about it.”
Forgiving him for possibly mixing up Jews with leprechauns, I also politely informed him that Jews were just like everyone else.
It occurred to me then (and now) that the proper antidote to these forms of anti-Semitism is dialogue and engagement. How can we possibly expect someone who has rarely interacted with us, after all, to appreciate our shared humanity? By tending to cut off, as opposed to fuel, an exchange, full-throated condemnation in these cases might end up doing more harm than good.
In any case, I’d still like to control the weather. As well as have a bag of gold.
Joshua Runyan is the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Exponent. He can be reached at [email protected]