The old, old story that we have loved so long

The Satanic baby-killers have always been with us, even though they have never actually existed. We reinvent them over and over, adapting the old lies in new forms.

Here, for example, are two stories from yesterday. The first involves a demented Putin-worshipping cultist named Tikhon Shevkunov. “Demented Putin-worshipping cultist” is my description. That’s accurate, but not his formal title. This vile bozo is a Russian Orthodox bishop:

Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov, who is heading a Russian Orthodox Church commission investigating the execution of the Romanov family by firing squad in Yekaterinburg, said at a conference on Monday that many members of the commission believe it was a ritual murder that held special significance for Bolshevik commander Yakov Yurovsky and his men.

“Ritual murder” has in the past referred to a theory that the last emperor was the victim of a Jewish conspiracy, as Mr Yurovsky was of Jewish heritage.

Russia’s investigative committee said it would look into the claim by Mr Shevkunov, who is reputed to be Mr Putin’s confessor.

… Rabbi Boruch Gorin, a spokesman for the federation of Jewish communities, told Interfax news agency that this ritual murder investigation was a “shocking” example of “medieval ignorance,” noting that the myth of Jews ritually killing people to extract their blood for matzo bread has figured in anti-semitic propaganda for many decades.

Shevkunov is reanimating the ancient blood libel — the false witness long borne by Christians against their Jewish neighbors, which was one of the earliest versions of the Satanic baby-killer fantasy. It’s always been a lie — and always been known to be a lie both by those who told it and by those who pretended to believe it. And it doesn’t really fit here — killing a Tsar by firing squad is a lousy way to extract the blood of innocent white Christian infants for a Satanic ritual. But this weird, phantasmagorical accusation has never needed to make any sense. The blood libel was always as stupidly nonsensical as Pizzagate. Making sense isn’t the point. The point is that agreeing to pretend that The Other is superlatively evil allows us to pretend that we are superlatively good.

The fact that a high-ranking church official is publicly spreading this baldly anti-Semitic garbage — that a bishop is stupid enough and evil enough to believe such things — might be seen as evidence of the backwardness of Putin’s Russia. But the same garbage — variations of the same ancient slurs — is being actively spread here in 21st-century America by, yes, church officials and clergy.

Like, for example, the late Tim LaHaye. White evangelicalism doesn’t have bishops, but in the market-driven ecclesiology of its implicit magisterium, LaHaye was an archbishop or a cardinal. His Left Behind series married Hal Lindsey’s pop-apocalypticism with a stew of undiluted Bircherism — including the whole anti-Semitic conspiracy mythology that the John Birch Society inherited from the Nazis and from the same ancient blood libels that false prophet Shevkunov is peddling. LaHaye’s fictional Antichrist rises to power thanks to a conspiracy of international bankers. It’s pure Bircherism — the idea that a shadowy global conspiracy of Jewish puppeteers is controlling the world from behind the scenes with its many tentacled nefariousness. LaHaye doesn’t just repeat that whole construct as the basis of his story’s plot, he rechristens it as “Bible prophecy” — assuring his devout readers that the fever dreams of the far right are not just true but divinely ordained and prophesied by the infallible words of scripture.

Just in case anyone misses the Bircher conspiracy roots of all that in his books, LaHaye names the main International Finance Conspiracist “Stonagal,” which he imagines to be a clever allusion to “Rockefeller.” (Get it? Stone-a-gal? Rock-a-fellow? Get it?) The fact that the Rockefellers are not, in fact, Jewish doesn’t matter any more than that the Rockefellers are not, in fact, Secretly Controlling Everything. For adherents of this conspiracy theory, the Rockefellers are secret Jews.

For the tens of millions of devoted fans of LaHaye’s Bircher-Bible conspiracy, the bogeyman Jonathan Stonagal is the fictional surrogate for a real person. And their current favorite suggestion for the real person playing this role is George Soros. He’s an international financier, and he’s Jewish, so they imagine he is behind everything.

This idea of the Omnipotent Jewish Puppeteer Soros has become something of a joke over the years for liberal bloggers because we’ve all been accused, repeatedly, of somehow being paid by George Soros. The same accusation is leveled at anyone who’s ever participated in a protest march or volunteered for a GOTV drive. We’re all allegedly living the sweet life, cashing big checks from the Grand Orchestrator Soros. Those jokes are sort of darkly amusing because, of course, we’re not all being secretly funded by a global conspiracy of Jewish bankers. And because most of us could use the money. But there’s nothing funny at all about the fact that this Soros variation of the old conspiracy theory is being so widely accepted and promoted.

The last time this same conspiracy theory was this popular, millions of people were slaughtered in its name.

So here’s the second story from yesterday: “Roy Moore Backers Say George Soros Is Paying Women To Lie About Him.”

Two weeks before Alabama’s Senate election, some of Roy Moore’s supporters say they are giving him a pass on the allegations of sexual misconduct against him because they think his female accusers are lying and being paid by billionaire Democratic donor George Soros.

“I do not believe the allegations,” said Edna Bogue, 72. “It’s George Soros.”

Bogue was one of about 200 people who came out to a Moore campaign event on Monday night in this tiny conservative town. She, like the other half dozen attendees HuffPost talked to, said the timing of the allegations against the Republican nominee seemed fishy. He has been in public office for decades, and Bogue said the fact that nine women are publicly accusing him of sexual misconduct seems politically calculated to deny Moore a U.S. Senate seat.

Roy Moore himself has promoted this conspiracy theory — retweeting a “report” from Breitbart which, of course, is all over this. Breitbart is all about conspiracy theories involving globalist financiers [read: Jews].

Jennifer Bendery’s article quotes several more Moore supporters who all volunteer that they don’t believe any of the many women who have testified about Moore’s abuse, or any of the dozens of people who have corroborated their stories. One of these Moore supporters also suggested that Soros is somehow funding Black Lives Matter protests, too. Because black people in America have no reason to protest anything unless some outside agitators [read, again: Jews] are secretly paying them to cause trouble.

Bircher, Birther, and devout white evangelical in good standing with his church and his faith community. (Huffington Post photo by Jen Bendery)
Bircher, Birther, Blasphemer — in other words, a devout white evangelical in good standing with his church. (Huffington Post photo by Jen Bendery)

Bendery summarizes this widespread Soros-panic in Alabama this way: “For some of Moore’s supporters … it’s more believable that powerful Democrats are trying to rig Alabama’s Senate election than it is to believe the allegations against a man they see as a good Christian.”

No. Not “powerful Democrats,” but George Soros, i.e., Jonathan Stonagal, i.e., “The Jews.” They have to believe this in order to imagine that a man like Roy Moore is anything remotely like “a good Christian.” And they have to believe that he is in order to believe that they themselves are, in any way, “good Christians.” That belief is only possible if they are able to contrast their goodness and their Christlikeness with that of some imagined superlative evil.

The basis of their idea of their own identity requires them to pretend they’re besieged by Satanic baby-killers.

And so, because feeling or imagining they are “good Christians” is so much less work than actually trying to be that, they embrace anti-Semitism and the hateful lies that have given rise to centuries of real evil.

"*Snerk* That last question is never going to stop being funny."

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