Washington, D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D.) was condemned in the past week after he claimed Jews were responsible for "climate manipulation" in the nation's capital, and a newly uncovered video shows the councilman has made similar anti-Semitic claims in the past.
In a video obtained by the Washington Post, White claimed during a Mayor's Council breakfast on Feb. 27 that Jews also control the World Bank and the federal government. During the breakfast–as in his March 16 remarks–White promoted conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds, a famous European business dynasty descended from Mayer Amschel Rothschild, an 18th-century Jewish banker.
"There’s this whole concept with the Rothschilds — control the World Bank, as we all know — infusing dollars into major cities," White said while speaking to the president of the University of the District of Columbia. "They really pretty much control the federal government, and now they have this concept called resilient cities in which they are using their money and influence into local cities."
Nobody in the room challenged White's comments.
After White's comments about the famed-Rothschild family drew criticism this week, White apologized and claimed he didn't realize his conspiracy theory was anti-Semitic.
"The Jewish community have been allies with me in my journey to help people," White said. "I did not intend to be anti-Semitic, and I see I should not have said that after learning from my colleagues."
A number of council members condemned White's remarks.
"There are both public and private gestures that need to happen to address this issue and send a clear message that this type of speech is not condoned," said D.C. Council Member Elissa Silverman (I.), one of the council’s two Jewish members. The other, member Brianne K. Nadeau (D), also condemned White’s remarks. They were joined by Chairman Phil Mendelson (D.), Mary M. Cheh (D.), Charles Allen (D.), David Grosso (I.), and Brandon T. Todd (D.). The Post reports:
Racine, who employed White before he ran for the council, said he spoke to his former employee about what made his comments troubling.
"They are unacceptable not only because they perpetuate a history of anti-Semitism, but also because the notion of climate control is completely unsupportable by facts," Racine said in a statement. "I’m encouraged by Trayon’s apology and his direct outreach to rabbis and other leaders of the District’s Jewish community, and I expect that he will learn from this and use it as an opportunity to bring people together rather than divide them."
But Cheh said that while she was glad that White understood that his remarks were anti-Semitic, she was still troubled by the fact that an elected official believes some entity can control the climate.
"His comments apparently embrace irrational, anti-science conspiracy theories about an agency or group controlling the weather," Cheh said in a statement. "We cannot normalize such fringe theories and conspiracies or we risk permitting the radical — or worse, dangerous — to enter into the mainstream. Our only option is to condemn them as soon as they are voiced and identify them for what they are. We need good judgment on the Council to solve the many real problems we face, including the challenges of climate change. I remain deeply concerned."
The council has a scheduled breakfast next Tuesday with Jewish community leaders; however, it is unknown at this time if the council will do anything to formally sanction White.