This weekend, Newsweek ran an interesting article on racism at MUFON and the broader problem of alt-right infiltration in ufology. The magazine basically laid the blame on the fact that ufologists are largely a group of cranky old white men, the same demographic that overlaps heavily with extreme conservative and alt-right beliefs. “The combination of demographics likely to align with far-right viewpoints, and the overlap between UFO researchers and conspiracy theorists, produces an environment that [ufologist Ryan] Sprague and others argue can be toxic to minorities,” the magazine told its readers.
This has been a particularly slow week for new claims in the world of fringe history, and it was also my birthday week. In honor of my birthday, and also to make time to work on my book, I’m going to be brief today. I wanted to share with you a racist meme that is popular on white supremacist forums. It was once featured on the now-suspended Daily Stormer, a Neo-Nazi website currently facing a libel lawsuit that threatens to expose its secretive finances., but it circulates across the white nationalist and racist hate communities on the internet, and has since at least 2013. Take a look:
Top MUFON Official Quits Over Organization's Continued Support of John Ventre a Year After Ventre's Racist Rant
On Wednesday, the Smithsonian Channel will air the controversial Canadian Ice Bridge documentary that revived claims that the first Americans were Europeans known as the Solutreans who crossed the Atlantic during the Ice Age. The documentary was roundly criticized in Canada for its lack of attention to the racist uses of the Solutrean myth and for its endorsement of a hypothesis for which little evidence exists. While the show aired on the CBC in Canada, the country’s major public broadcaster, here in the U.S. it will screen on digital tier cable, meaning that pretty much nobody will watch it. The Smithsonian Channel is a partnership between CBS-owned Showtime and the Smithsonian Institution, which employs Dennis Stanford, the major advocate of the Solutrean theory and the star of the documentary
As many readers already know, actress Roseanne Barr became an internet laughingstock recently when she praised Donald Trump for his heroic role in an imaginary effort to free thousands of children from a Democrat-run pedophilia network. This bizarre counterfactual belief is part of the so-called QAnon conspiracy, an internet-driven conspiracy theory which holds that Trump and Special Counsel Robert Muller are working together to take down Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are the masterminds of a global child abuse network and terrorism syndicate. Barr removed her tweets referencing QAnon but did not apologize for her belief in the conspiracy.
I’ve had a rather busy week, so I am going to keep today’s post short by directing you to an interesting video that Cracked produced last week about the misuse of history among rightwing pundits. The video examines, especially, claims about Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and the Civil War. While I don’t agree with every claim made in the video—since a couple are presented as established fact when they are actually interpretative—the general thrust is correct. As Cracked explains, a certain branch of rightwing American pundits bend history into pretzels in order to, essentially, justify racism. The video gains cumulative power as the number of false, misleading, or grotesque interpretations of history pile up and reduce one by one back to racism
Today I thought I would share some historical material about a controversy that blew up over Atlantis in 1911. Regular readers will remember that a New York newspaper published a hoax in 1912 claiming that Heinrich Schliemann’s descendant had uncovered a trail of clues leading to Atlantis. One reason that the hoax seemed superficially convincing is that the previous year the New York Times had published a serious article announcing that another German, Leo Frobenius, had indeed discovered Atlantis, in Africa.
There is no new episode of Ancient Aliens tonight due to the History Channel’s car-focused programming week. (What, no “Aliens and Automobiles” episode?) So, it looks like I get the night off! That would be great, except that I am bombarded with work today. Therefore, I’m going to keep today’s posting short.
So… at a news conference yesterday the president of the United States defended the Confederacy and said that “very fine people” attended the Charlottesville pro-white rally last weekend, earning praise from David Duke and other racist leaders. Media images showed crowds of torch-wielding Neo-Nazis shouting Nazi slogans (“blood and soil”) and anti-Semitic rants (“Jews will not replace us”), but Trump told us to “believe me” that the majority of attendees were there solely to express support for a statue of Robert E. Lee that was scheduled for removal. “There are two sides to a story,” Trump said, implying that the media narrative about white supremacy was liberal propaganda.
Classicist Claims White Marble Statues Lead to Racism; Plus: Scott Wolter Refines His Templar Claims
Last week Vice News ran a segment about ancient statues and racism in which the HBO program discussed a controversy that arose when Classicist Sarah Bond published an essay in Forbes this past spring, and another in Hyperallergic, describing the fact that Greco-Roman statues were once brightly painted and not stark white as they currently appear now that the paint has rubbed off thanks to the ravages of time.
I saw a meme a few times on social media this week in which it was claimed that the Mormons believe that Bigfoot is actually Adam’s son Cain. This was weird enough that I thought it was worth looking into. Apparently the claim goes back at least to a 2001 novel by Shane Lester called Clan of Cain: The Genesis of Bigfoot, which more or less equated Sasquatch with the Nephilim and pretended to present secret truths under the guise of fiction. (Gee, where have we heard that one before?) According to some Mormon websites, there was talk of Cain as Bigfoot among Mormons in South Weber, Utah as early as the 1990s, but I am not aware of much by way of published evidence for a larger belief in the Cain-Bigfoot connection at that time. The novel, however, is founded on an actual but obscure bit of Mormon lore tied to the Church’s early history of racism.
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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