Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer. Photo: Getty Images
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DeSantis Spokesperson Blames Vaccine Passport on the Rothschilds

It was the obvious next step after the space lasers.

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer. Photo: Getty Images

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery written by the czarist secret police more than a century ago, purporting to reveal a lurid international Jewish plot. The Rothschild family played an outsize role in the imagined conspiracy, a fact that made sense given they were one of the wealthier financial powers of the era and, of course, were Jews.

Rothschild & Co. is still an extant firm. While it is hardly a giant by the standards of the financial world, it remains a subject of fascination for anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. Republican representative Marjorie Taylor Greene notoriously speculated that the Rothschilds engineered a series of California forest fires through a network of space lasers in order to clear land for a high-speed rail project. She later explained she didn’t realize the Rothschilds were Jewish. (Greene has also promoted a video alleging “an unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists, and Zionist supremacists has schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation with the deliberate aim of breeding us out of existence in our own homelands.” Presumably she knows the Zionists are Jewish.)

Because the Rothschilds are an actual firm, they will continue to engage in regular business activities that conspiracy theorists can hold up as evidence of something suspicious. In June, Arielle Malard de Rothschild, the managing director at Rothschild & Co., visited the Republic of Georgia, where she met with the government to discuss investment opportunities. This is a completely normal thing to happen.

This month, the Republic of Georgia announced it will institute a “green pass” system starting in December that will give people who are “fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19, or have taken a PCR test within the last 72 hours or an antigen test within 24 hours” access to an array of indoor venues. This news raised the antenna of Christina Pushaw.

Who is Christina Pushaw? She is a paid spokesperson for Florida governor Ron DeSantis. (Pushaw got her job by being such a DeSantis superfan that he offered her a position and hired her at $120,000 a year.) DeSantis has carved out a role as one of the most vocal allies of the anti-vaccine movement in the Republican Party. While formally endorsing the vaccine as a choice, DeSantis has obsessively attacked local governments and businesses that try to require it while promoting anti-vaccine nuts, including one he hired for the state’s top medical job.

Pushaw, learning through Twitter that a country that had implemented a COVID pass had also met with the Rothschilds, put two and two together:

Photo: Screenshot via Twitter

First of all, the timing is completely wrong. Georgia did not announce its green-pass system “immediately” after meeting with the Rothschilds. The Rothschild meeting occurred five months ago.

Second, many countries have implemented COVID pass systems. A handful of Asian countries, as well as Europe and, um, Israel, are setting up passport systems that will allow people to gather in public indoor spaces.

DeSantis and his spokespeople are furious about this because they believe people who refuse vaccinations should not be denied any privileges, either by a government or a private company. Indeed, this has become DeSantis’s defining agenda.

This agenda is the context for Pushaw’s tweet. Georgia is doing something sinister by making it easier for vaccinated people to resume normal life. Georgia supposedly did the terrible thing right after meeting with a Rothschild. Suspicious!

To be fair, Pushaw is making this point in a winking, I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’ way.

She perhaps does not literally believe the Rothschilds secretly conspired to foist a COVID passport regime onto the Georgian government using investment as a pretext. But she is happy to fuel those suspicions by other right-wing conspiracy theorists, who are an important part of DeSantis’s power base:

Photo: Screenshot via Twitter

And Pushaw almost certainly stumbled onto this news because some conspiracy theorist in her social network brought it to her attention. The anti-vaxx movement is filled to the brim with conspiracy theorists, and conspiracy theorists have a deep attraction to anti-Semitism.

One can easily predict that the next turn of this story will be that Pushaw and DeSantis angrily deny that her Rothschild conspiracy tweet had any anti-Semitic connotation. She will probably change the subject to DeSantis’s right-wing stance on Israel, which conservatives generally treat as a hall pass to engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric. But the larger point is that DeSantis is gleefully swimming in a sea of conspiracy nuts, and those conspiracy nuts are inevitably going to include a healthy share of anti-Semites.

Update: Pushaw claims the point of her tweet was that the Georgian government was “intentionally fueling conspiracy theories troll Green Pass opponents” by meeting with the Rothschilds:

This explanation is ludicrous. First, as I noted, the Rothschild meeting took place five months before the Green Pass announcement. Second, meeting with a Rothschild is not “trolling” people. It’s a completely normal thing for an elected leader to do, unless you’re an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.

DeSantis Spokesperson Blames Vaccine Passport on Rothschilds