A new internet cartoon is capturing public interest by explaining the sources of our worldwide financial distress. Using a clever South Park format, “The American Dream” reveals the hidden enemies of naive Americans, and others around the world, who yearn for financial independence – the US Federal Reserve and all national banks.

But lurking in the shadows behind the bland faces of official bankers is the real villain, the one we knew all along was there, the Jew. 

 “The American Dream” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPWH5TlbloU) premiered at FreedomFest in July 2010 in Las Vegas, a libertarian-conservative convention. Beginning with a helpless average American who has bought a bigger house and is then foreclosed, the film presents a conspiracy theory about the Fed as the source of all financial evil, aided by the IRS and the Mint.

According to the film, the Fed is completely uncontrolled by any American people or institutions, and is under the power of foreign bankers. Our taxes do not go to our government, but to others, in “the greatest theft in human history”. The Fed unconstitutionally prints money in order to further enslave Americans through debt. Patriots, who follow the teachings of our founding fathers, must do something right away, “before America is destroyed forever.”

Because antisemites can’t avoid it, there is just a bit of sexism incorporated here. Women appear only as ornaments for the men who do all the business.

In several interviews and comments which can be seen on the web, filmmaker Tad Lumpkin claims his video is a kind of easy substitute for Friedrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom”, the famous philosophical attack on collectivism. But Hayek’s book says little about banks. It appears that “The American Dream” recycles in much more palatable form the claims of the 1998 “documentary” “The Money Masters- How International Bankers Gained Control of America”, which runs for over 3 hours.

The video originated in and circulates among the network of survivalist, conspiracy-mongering, extremist websites, like rtr.org, which claims credit for the film. But since its production, “The American Dream” has enjoyed considerable success beyond the fringe, breaking through into much more mainstream conservative discussions.

Andrew Breitbart’s website features Lumpkin, arguing that his film is mainstream conservatism, trying to combat the leftist bias in Hollywood. Judge Napolitano of FOX News gave Lumpkin a television platform to promote the film. It is also promoted on the websites of Ron Paul and of the Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party of California is so excited about “The American Dream” that Lumpkin and his co-writer Harold Uhl will be invited speakers at their annual convention in April: “Tad Lumpkin and Harold Uhl, up-and-coming libertarian activists in the realm of digital entertainment, will present their fast-paced, laugh-filled, and deadly serious expose of the Federal Reserve, ‘The American Dream’.”

The film is available on YouTube, where hundreds of comments demonstrate its broad acceptance as a revelation about how we got to where we are.

At the core of “The American Dream” is a familiar message: Jews are the devil behind all financial evils. Unlike most antisemitic propaganda, “The American Dream” is not blatant in its targeting of Jews. The word “Jew” is never spoken in the film, and nothing I have seen by the filmmakers refers to Jews. But the second half of the “The American Dream” reveals the shadowy power behind the Fed and behind the gradual takeover of the whole world during the past 200 years: the Rothschild banking family.

The narrative of “The American Dream” strings together a series of Rothschild “achievements”, all made up, but all firmly planted in antisemitic lore: they profited from both sides at Waterloo; they enslaved England and they planned to “enslave all the nations on earth”; they controlled Alexander Hamilton, who first proposed a national bank; all the big American bankers trembled in fear before the “Red Shield bankers” when the IRS took over our country in 1913.

“Red Shield” is the English translation for Rothschild. Unlike all the other characters in the film, the Red Shield bankers are portrayed as tentacled monsters and called “evil tyrants”. The many-armed octopus was a favorite symbol used by 19th-century antisemites to portray their claim that Jews control everything. If you google “Rothschild red shield”, you come up with a host of survivalist, Christian fundamentalist, racist websites about the dangers of Jewish power and of the Fed.

The narrative of the video is an updated version of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, a 19th-century fabrication which allegedly proved that Jews planned, and had always planned, to take over the world. “Protocols” explained the history of the world as a Jewish conspiracy. In “The American Dream” that plan is carried out by the Rothschilds.

According to the believers in this whole scheme, President Barack Obama is already part of the conspiracy. Another film popular with the Fed-haters, who see Jews lurking behind everything they hate, is “Rothschild's Choice: Barack Obama and the Hidden Cabal Behind the Plot to Murder America”.

There are many prejudices in America, ideas about evil that have endured for generations, sometimes below the surface of public consciousness. The historical discrimination against Jews, keeping Jews out of positions of respect and power, did not prevent Henry Ford from claiming that Jews were dangerously close to controlling the US. In the 1920s Ford published “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem,” which was heavily based on the “Protocols”. Among Ford’s ideas was that Jews exercised control over the Federal Reserve. Hitler’s American consul gave Ford the Nazi Grand Cross of the German Eagle in 1938.

Father Charles Coughlin, the phenomenally popular radio priest, used the airwaves in the 1930s to propound his belief that an “international conspiracy of Jewish bankers” had caused the Depression, as well as the Russian Revolution. He inspired thousands of supporters to march in the streets of New York to protest the possibility that more Jewish refugees from the Nazis might be allowed into the US.

In my lifetime, antisemitism in American has reached its lowest point. Any discrimination against Jews in any place at any time is illegal, and liable to be denounced by all who know of it. Social attitudes have fundamentally changed in that time, so that openly antisemitic remarks are condemned, except in extreme circles.

Because the video begins by laying out the case against the Fed as the evil force behind our economic crisis and because the antisemitism is not trumpeted, this video is getting serious consideration across many websites which are solely focused on economics. As “The American Dream” makes its way around the virtual world, the messages about Jews, the evil behind the evil, become unremarkable and accepted.

“The American Dream” is a cartoon meant to evoke laughter, but at its core it tells a story steeped in an ancient hatred. It could be used as an educational tool and should be viewed by many Americans. But it does not teach anything useful about economics or history. It demonstrates how subtle messages of hate can lurk behind cartoon images, how simplistic political formulas can be dangerous, and how persistent are irrational hatreds.

The real American dream is different. It is not about buying bigger houses and it certainly is not about finding Jewish scapegoats for national problems. The American dream, the one pursued by the Jews who escaped antisemitism in Europe and whose son, grandson, and great-grandson I am, was freedom from irrational hatred.

Perhaps Lumpkin and Uhl are not antisemites. Maybe they incorporated the theme of the evil Rothschilds without realizing what they were doing. But their intentions or ignorance hardly matter. What does matter in 2011 is that American politicians and media personalities think a film that portrays Jews as evil monsters bent on world domination is worth showing, praising, and promoting. After decades of retreat, the antisemitism of Ford and Coughlin, and of the Nazis, is back, on a screen near you.

(Steve Hochstadt  is Professor of History at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois and has been teaching about modern Europe and the Holocaust for 31 years. His research focuses on migration in Germany and on the Holocaust, specifically on Jewish refugees to Shanghai. His book Mobility and Modernity: Migration in Germany 1820-1989 (University of Michigan Press, 1999) won the Allan Sharlin Prize of the SSHA. He published Sources of the Holocaust (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), an annotated collection of documents, and Shanghai-Geschichten: Die jüdische Flucht nach China, published in 2007 by Hentrich and Hentrich in Berlin. Hochstadt serves as Treasurer of the Sino-Judaic Institute, and writes a weekly column for the Jacksonville Journal-Courier.)