New on anti-Semitic myths and the dangers they pose. From Thomas of Monmouth to David Icke’s lizard people, there’s a long history of people making up bizarre stories about Jews. Those stories, when allowed to proliferate, get us killed.
To be extremely clear, this is all dangerous nonsense. There does seem to have been a boy named William who was murdered in Norwich in the 1140s. The culprit remains unknown, according to the most recent scholarship. There was no international Jewish conspiracy to murder Christian children in the Middle Ages (nor was there in antiquity, nor is there today).
Also, the first time I taught this text in a classroom, a wide-eyed student exclaimed, “I had no idea this was true!”
The lesson is that no matter how preposterous a conspiracy theory, if you don’t frame the material carefully, at least some people will believe it. When enough people believe these kinds of narratives, Jews or other marginalized people tend to get murdered. Neutrality, just letting the material speak for itself, only serves the anti-Semites.