Perhaps more than any year in recent memory, 2019 was the year in which fringe history stopped being fringe and went completely mainstream. This year, we saw pseudohistory and conspiracy theories top the literary bestseller lists, multiply across cable channels like mushrooms on a rotten log, and attract record crowds to traveling carnivals masquerading as pseudohistory “fan” conventions. It perfectly captures the tenor of the times for the post-truth era that the very notions of fact and fiction ceased to have meaning. This was a long, hard year, both for the world and also for me personally. After dealing with family health problems, buying and selling a house (and still not being able to close on selling the old one until early 2020, nearly half a year after the sale), writing two books, and a knot of lawyers for many different developments, I am ready for this unpleasant year to end. Let’s look back in anger:
Because Ancient Aliens is on later today, I am only going to make a brief post this morning. I wanted to say something about the attack on Donald Trump’s statement at his news conference this week with the president of Italy. In introducing the Italian president, Trump said that “the United States and Italy are bound together by a shared cultural and political heritage dating back dating back thousands of years to ancient Rome.” Liberal pundits attacked Trump’s statements—which were prepared remarks, not extemporaneous—because they believed Trump had claimed that the United States, founded in 1776, had had a relationship with Italy, founding in 1861, since the founding of Rome. Trump does enough bad stuff that we don’t need to make up things he didn’t say. Italy and the United States do indeed both draw on the Classical heritage of Rome, as every schoolchild was taught down to modern times. The U.S. government draws on Roman models, and Italy’s connection to Rome should be obvious. Trump was referring to the Roman influence on Western civilization, not a fictitious U.S.-Roman alliance. It’s fairly obvious. That he then went on to praise Columbus Day and reject efforts to rename it Indigenous People’s Day is another issue. That seems entirely in keeping with his frequent and unthinking repetition of whatever angry thing he heard on cable TV.
Proofreading and indexing is slow-going work, and I’m finding it challenging to fit enough of it into my workday to meet the deadline after the publisher delivered the page proofs late, cutting the indexing time way down. As a result, I am not going to be doing much blogging until the indexing and proofreading are done. The good news, for what it’s worth, is that indexing goes faster the deeper into a book I go because most of the index terms will have already been entered into the list, so by the time I am halfway through, it will mostly be autopilot.
"The Atlantic" Repeats Afrocentrist Claim about Pre-Columbian Africans in the Americas; Plus: "Epoch Times" Under Fire for Trump Links
This past week, conservatives across the country rose up to take on the most pressing issue of the day, the New York Times’ ongoing series reporting on the continuing legacy of slavery on modern American life to mark the 400th anniversary of slavery in the lands that eventually became the United States. Conservative leaders claimed that the paper was doing a disservice to America by sowing division through a discussion of historical facts and making America look bad by explaining the compromises and corruptions that slavery created at the heart of the American social, economic, and political systems. In the Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi of American University wrote in support of the Times’ project, but in doing so, he offered his own ahistorical claim.
Fake history is everywhere and often quite difficult to root out. Today, I’m going to break format a little bit to look at an inflated historical claim that is a little unusual. I came across this listing for an antique brass humidor for sale at a wildly inflated price of $795, and I had a hard time believing it.
To promote the release of his self-published book The Discovery of Troy and Its Lost History, historical researcher Bernard Jones published an article in Ancient Origins highlighting the book’s central claim, that the ancient city of Troy (Ilium) was not located in Asia Minor as has been assumed since ancient times but instead was located in the Celtic world. His evidence is Homer’s Iliad, whose poetic descriptions he takes as literal depictions of a voyage to the New World.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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