Before my Catholic friends disown me, the Pope in question isn’t the pontiff who lives in the Vatican. It’s Tom Pope, who lives in Port Vale and plays for its Second Division football team.
His tweet caused quite some resonance the other day, which breaks a firmly established pattern. Traditionally, only Premiership players hold views of national, and especially international, interest.
A creatively tattooed Arsenal or Chelsea player is guaranteed a wide forum and a nationwide discussion whenever he airs his geopolitical wisdom, along the lines of “we shouldn’t of went into Iraq”. People may or may not agree, but they’ll listen.
Celebrity confers on its possessor that special status of presumed sagacity that in the past used to be harder to acquire. Now it’s easy: sign a £100,000-a-week contract and let your mouth run wild.
But a lowly Second Division striker? This is something new and therefore worthy of a comment.
One of Pope’s fans asked him to “predict the World War III result”. He must have expected the striker to give him the current betting odds on various possible outcomes, but Pope instead gave him the benefit of his geopolitical analysis:
“We invade Iran then Cuba then North Korea then the Rothschilds are crowned champions of every bank on the planet.”
Mr Pope clearly sees a war as a sporting contest, in which the top prize isn’t a cup but “every bank on the planet”. In such a competition there can be only one winner: the Jews in general and the Rothschilds in particular.
Moreover, the implication is strong that it’s those Jews from hell who would actually provoke the invasion of “Iran, Cuba then North Korea” for the purpose of becoming world banking champions as a result.
Portraying the Rothschilds in this way has to give a warm feeling of recognition to all students of history, of whom Mr Pope is clearly one. For conspiracy theories about that family go back to at least 1815, when they were falsely accused of having learned the result of the Battle of Waterloo before everyone else and parlayed that discovery into huge profits.
Since then the Rothschilds have never left the pages of anti-Semitic tracts, such as the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion concocted by the tsar’s secret police in 1903. The Rothschilds have been portrayed as the secret rulers of the world, ordering millions to their death to fill their coffers with filthy lucre.
Now that canard has flown as far as Port Vale, landing in the garden of its celebrated denizen. Tom knows nothing about the Rothschilds except that they are Jews who own, well, everything, with the possible exception of Port Vale FC. But it’s the feeling that counts.
When accused of anti-Semitism, the attacker went on the defence: “They own the bloody banks! There’s no racial malice whatsoever and anyone would say the bloody same! I didn’t choose a side. I merely stated they own the banks and that’s it!”
Now, I doubt Tom could name a single bank owned by the Rothschilds. He has probably heard of none of them. And those he knows aren’t owned by that diabolical family. Barclays? No. HSBC? No. Lloyds? No. RBS? No.
Further afield, JPMorgan Chase? No. BNP Paribas? No. (For Mr Pope’s information, BNP stands for Banque Nationale de Paris, not the British National Party.)
But that’s hardly the point, is it? Facts shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with the story, especially one as seductive as this – and one that can elevate a player no one has ever heard of to the status of national celebrity.
At 34, Tom must be nearing the end of his playing career. But not to worry: a bright future in political analysis beckons. Breitbart News is always looking for fresh blood.