Trayon White, The Rothschilds, the “Big Jew Weather Machine” & Where this DC Councilmember Went Wrong
Earlier in the month, DC Councilmember Trayon White made global headlines for pushing a conspiracy theory about jews controlling the weather leading to accusations about anti-semitism. The irony is that this took place a couple weeks after we did an expose on the leadership of his ward all not being ready for prime time and here came this story literally validating what we had just said. But instead of poking fun and laughing, we thought we’d explain what happened, how we got here and what the Councilmember can do to rectify his mistakes moving forward.
Councilmember Trayon White was trolled by the Washington Post by having a conspiracy theory peddling video from his social media published. The conspiracy theory was that the Rothschilds controlled the weather, was targeting cities to cause destruction so they could buy them and do with them as they please for population control. This was followed up by a video taken during a Legislative Breakfast DC Mayor Muriel Bowser held where he then accused the Rothschilds of controlling the World Bank as well. The fall out was instant, citing him as a racist, anti-Semite tin foil hate conspiracy theorist not to mention crazy.
What Went Wrong
What a lot of local elected officials forget in DC is that while they only have local jurisdiction, by virtue of their zip code, people care about what they’re doing and if the slightest hint of either corruption or absurd policy goes into effect, they’re going to make national news. After all, this is the home of Marion Barry which needs no explanation not to mention the fact Washington has always been corrupt. The prevalence of elected officials pushing uninformed propaganda to an already undereducated population only works to compound these stereotypes of a largely ignorant group of self-serving elected officials collecting pay checks all while ignoring the issues of their communities. This is even worse for Trayon White who presides over the poorest part of the district that not long ago had a 50% literacy rate, currently has half of the labor force of ward 1 and 3x the unemployment rate at a whopping 12.9% and just this week it was revealed that an increasing number of people in his ward are living without heat, so he has far more things to worry about than what’s happening with the weather.
The problem again is the vast poverty in ward 8. The ward is rife with slumlords, has only one grocery store for the 70,000 or so residents in his ward, has a problem with quality education as well as sitting on the verge of gentrification, the only side of the city that has not completely changed. These are his issues. This is not his battle to have. He tried to make a point, to which I believe was in part valid, but he muddied it and alas descended into sh**.
He has an issue with adequately articulating his points as well as an unwillingness to address all ranges of residents within his ward. His core constituency appears to be those under or unemployed, living in substandard or public housing with the general perception of him wanting to object to new development. This very well might not be the case and I think it likely is not, but that is the image he projects. It’s also the belief that people like him who are fighting for a population to be included in new development, jobs etc., are poverty pimps because his rhetoric tends to leave out any type of accountability or action from the constituent themselves. The amount of fighting over a 100% affordable housing project with a Starbucks in a new Mapleview development on Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave in Southeast DC was so outlandish, leading people to believe this one project held everyone’s future in its hands was absurd. There is no reason that the entire community should be riled up over every single development as though residents are under siege and a part of a major conspiracy. It just isn’t. Studies show that people who are less educated are more susceptible to believing conspiracy theories so pushing these things on an under-educated group of people… That fits the definition of poverty pimping whether it is his intent or not.
One notable thing about how Trayon responded to the Washington Post when asked about this story is that he said he didn’t understand how what he said was considered anti-Semitic. Therein lies the conundrum. To put it simply, any attacks on the Rothschild family is considered anti-Semitic by the Anti Defamation League. Is that fair? Well that’s debatable. An often racist attack is the claim of jews owning and controlling everything but that is not what Trayon said. He referred to the Rothschild family which owns a significant marketshare in most of everything. So while he did not attack jews, it’s common practice that people conflate the Rothschilds with all jews which has lead to considering any attack on the Rothschilds as being anti-Semitic. Whether that is a fair box to find himself in really doesn’t matter because if he had thought out his statement or was knowledgeable on that which he was speaking, he would know that and be aware of the backlash his statements would make. He was clearly in over his head here in an area he had no business in to start.
What He Meant
Let’s start with the video posted in his car. When he made the accusation of the Rothschilds controlling the weather, there is such a thing as “cloud seeding,” a form of weather modification to affect levels of precipitation which has been executed across the world for decades, so the very concept of it being done isn’t far fetched or factually incorrect. The Rothschilds are one of the wealthiest families in the world with over 200 years of mass global influence. Without even digging into any type of financial trail, if it is possible to manipulate the weather in ANY form, which it is, then to claim someone would not seek to profit from this like anything else, would not be beyond the realm of possibly. He provided no evidence of this. We couldn’t even find conspiracy theorists to tag along this theory.
In both the video in his car and at the Legislative Breakfast, Trayon referred to Washington, DC as a “Resilient City.” That is an actual project where DC is designated as one of the 100 most resilient cities by the Rockefeller Foundation which is providing funding to assist in disaster preparedness for events caused by natural disasters, terrorism, etc. that could lead to infrastructure and business failure. This is especially important with so many people living close to the federal government in Washington, a prime target for terrorism. Motives can be questioned, and given the Councilmember’s gaffe prone tendency, once the Legislative Breakfast video was released, if he honestly felt this strongly about his city being controlled by a nonprofit’s funding, he could have written a statement on other options for disaster preparedness. Local officials in DC have a tendency to let the national press embarrass and beat them up over the years. One rule of Communications is that you can believe whatever you want, just be able to explain your stance and that is what Trayon failed to do. He simply cowered off leaving the world to think he was crazy without a sane response for nearly a week.
When the Washington Post informed Trayon that his car video about the Rothschilds controlling the weather had been picked up for their paper and he was asked for a response, he simply said, “The video says what it says” and “Look it up.” He also refused to respond outside of a text message.
He then posted a poorly written statement he had typed in iPhone’s Notepad to social media. So far that was two strikes. He then went onto Facebook attacking people criticizing him within his ward for commenting on what happened, questioning his judgment, comparing himself to Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and others. An entire week later he finally posted a very well written apology which is a major step forward for the Councilmember considering he has a tendency to consistently share poorly written statements, social media posts and flyers that are either factually inaccurate or horribly unprofessional which is unbecoming of a Councilmember in the nation’s capital. It isn’t as though he doesn’t have staff able to do these things.
While he is constantly compared to his mentor, the late Marion Barry, what he can learn from him is that Marion Barry created his own reality. If he said something, that was the end of it. He didn’t cower to the media. He made it clear what his point was, what he was trying to do but he never cowered to them as Trayon did. Anytime you mention an issue, you need to be able to back it up with facts as well as in the role of an elected official, state how this is relevant to your jurisdiction along with what you intend on doing about it. Those are all things Trayon failed to do.
This scandal might have embarrassed Trayon White on a global scale but his supporters have been un-phased by it. Similar to Marion Barry, they see it as him being under attack. What he can do at this point now that he has national attention is to get back to the work of his ward except this time, making sure any communication he puts out is of a professional manner including from himself. I advise people who are grammar deficient to install the app Grammarly which corrects grammar within any app you’re typing in. His flyers should be fact checked and created either by a professional or using a professional graphics program and his statements need to be written by someone else. Everyone should be aware of their strengths and writing is not his. Own it and get someone else to do your writing.
Trayon White needs to realize he has a diverse constituency and even if they are not who you automatically identify with, you need to show that their concerns matter, whether it is their desire for quality retail, condo developments, business incubators, dog parks, none of which gets addressed by him, they should be.
Know that you are always being watched and as an elected official, you need to make sure that you are representing your constituents in the best manner possible. While that may seemingly be Politics 101, many operate under the belief that people will vote for them regardless so it doesn’t matter. While that is true, you want to be taken seriously among people other than your constituents. When it comes time to meet with developers, the media or even if you’re called to speak at various summits etc., you don’t want to be someone people look to work around because they think you’re a crazy conspiracy theorist. Words matter.
While this entire news cycle was a bit entertaining to watch as it largely seemed silly, I still felt the need to at least try to explain details left out for casual followers of the story and to offer some constructive criticism instead of just kicking him while he’s down.
The above statement of apology is the example of the type of writing that should be coming from his office.
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