Last week, Jonathan Tobin used this space to criticize the 92nd Street Y—that “venerable Jewish institution”—for hosting Alice Walker in a dialogue with Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler. Plenty of artists and celebrities express solidarity with the Palestinian cause. But as Tobin noted, few go as far as Walker, who actually refused to let The Color Purple be translated into Hebrew, and seeks to prevent Israeli performers from visiting the United States.
Tobin argues that defenders of the 92nd Street Y’s event are relying on an intellectual distinction between traditional anti-Semitism and strident anti-Israeli activism–and his May 29 blog post was largely an attack on that premise. But it’s important to note that even if one accepts this intellectual distinction, some of Walker’s recent musings about world-domination plots still serve to disqualify her from the mainstream marketplace of ideas. Indeed, they are stunningly offensive.
Earlier this year, Walker wrote a post on her personal blog entitled “Human Race Get Off Your Knees: I couldn’t have put it better myself.” Students of conspiracy theories will recognize “Human Race Get Off Your Knees” as the title of a 2010 book by British paranoiac David Icke, a one-time professional soccer player who has spent the last two decades promoting the idea that planet earth is secretly controlled by giant inter-dimensional lizards who have taken human form (Queen Elizabeth and Bob Hope being two examples he has supplied), and operate terrestrially through a Dan Brown-esque secret society called “the Babylonian Brotherhood,” whose offshoots include the CIA and Mossad.
Yet, according to Ms. Walker, David Icke’s Human Race Get Off Your Knees is “amazing,” “stunning,” “magical,” “profound” and “the ultimate reading adventure.” Indeed, Walker reports, it “was the first time I was able to observe, and mostly imagine and comprehend, the root of the incredible evil that has engulfed our planet.”
“David Icke reminded me of Malcolm X,” she adds—especially Malcolm X’s quality of “fearlessness.”
One of Icke’s theories is that the reptilian invaders (the “Annunaki”) came to earth to harvest a special type of gold—which apparently can turbocharge their lizard nervous systems by many orders of magnitude. This detail really resonates with Alice Walker, who sees comparisons with earth’s own colonial history: “They [the lizards] wanted gold and they wanted slaves to mine it for them. Now gosh, who does this remind us of? I only am asking …”
In fact, the idea of some “alien” race seeking to rule the world by monopolizing the gold supply isn’t original to David Icke. It is a common theme in all sorts of conspiracist literature—including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which presented its imaginary Jewish authors as declaring: “In our hands is the greatest power of our day — gold: In two days we can procure from our storehouses any quantity we may please.”
As it turns out, the “amazing,” “stunning,” “magical,” “profound” David Icke is a long-time student of the Protocols: He has cited the Protocols respectfully dozens of times in his writings—including in Human Race Get Off Your Knees. Icke claims that he isn’t quite sure whether the Protocols are genuine, or even whether they’re about Jews (he has sometimes argued that the Protocols are actually about the Illuminati, though it’s unclear where, in his mind, one group ends, and the other begins). But, in the final analysis, Icke claims on page 127 of Human Race Get Off Your Knees, the Protocols “tell the detailed story of the last hundred years before it happened.”
Icke is extremely concerned with the genetic origins of Jews, in order to trace their role (as he sees it) in the rise of the universe-controlling Babylonian lizard-men who infiltrated the human race though Middle Eastern intermarriage. But, having been stung by accusations of anti-Semitism in the past, Icke generally prefers to use the term “Rothschild Zionist” to “Jew.” (The very notion of Jewish “history,” as we know it, Icke writes, is “a manufactured lie to serve the interests of the House of Rothschild and the Illuminati family network”—which, he warns us, seeks to establish a “global fascist/communist dictatorship.”)
Indeed, “Human Race Get Off Your Knees” is chock-full of tales of these apparently despicable “Rothschild Zionists,” including long sections devoted to the evils they have inflicted on the Palestinians. Presumably, this is one of the aspects of the book that made it such a page-turner for Ms. Walker.
Large tracts of Human Race Get Off Your Knees consist of lists of companies, NGOs and media organizations that Icke says are controlled by “the Rothschild-Zionist network” and its “satanic black magicians.” The “Rothschild Zionists” were behind the rise of Hitler and Stalin, he argues, as well as the assassination of Lincoln. There are also even more bizarre tangents, such as where Icke declares that “the House of Saud is a fake front for the House of Rothschild and they are not ‘Arabs’ or ‘Muslims’ at all. They are Rothschild Zionists who can be traced back to a Jewish man … in the year AD 851.”
I could supply hundreds of more examples from this one book alone—one of 19 that Icke has written—all filled with exactly this sort of hateful, hallucinogenic nonsense. And it says a lot about Alice Walker that she came away from this material inspired instead of repelled.
In a free society, David Icke should be free to say such things. And Alice Walker should be free to praise him for it. But let us not pretend that either of these two people are opponents of mere “Zionism”: It is clearly a much darker and more repellent form of thinking that is at play here. And it is unclear why an illustrious institution such as the 92nd Street Y should want to give a forum to anyone who exhibits it.