Driving through a snow flurry Friday morning, Washington, D.C., councilman Trayon White Sr. filmed a brief video in which he advanced an age-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
“Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man,” White Sr. said in the 20-second clip, which was first reported by the Washington Post. “Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation. 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.”
The Rothschilds, a European Jewish banking family who gained prominence during the 18th century, have long been the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, which allege that the family is part of a shadowy cabal that manipulates world events.
As anti-Semitism sentiment surges again in Europe and the U.S., echoes of this myth can be seen in similar ideas about Jewish financier George Soros, who right-wing extremists often cast as a puppetmaster-type villain.
When the Washington Post asked White Sr. about the anti-Semitic connotation of his comments, he seemed unrepentant, telling the paper via text, “The video says what it says.”
But later, as pressure mounted on the lawmaker, he issued an apology.
“I believe he is being truthful when he says he didn’t realize what his statement implied,” a D.C. councilwoman told local outlet WTOP. “It is my sincere hope that my colleague has learned from this experience …”
A local Jewish group also seemed ready to give White a second chance.
The Anti-Defamation League recently reported that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. had surged by 57 percent between 2016 and 2017, the largest year-over-year increase since the organization began its tracking in 1979.