Yesterday ancient astronaut theorist Mike Bara endorsed an unconfirmed report made by a rightwing blog quoting anti-Islamic German blogger Michael Mannheimer that Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz had converted to Islam and therefore crashed his plane, killing 149 people and himself, as part of a jihadist act. Mannheimer offered no evidence other than the existence of a mosque in Bremen, where Lubitz had trained as a pilot. Bara posted to Facebook that the German blog post was “proof of what we all knew 3 days ago.” His brother Dave replied with a conspiracy theory that world governments would attempt to suppress the truth about Islamic suicide pilots. As of today, French and German prosecutors have not released any evidence indicating Lubitz was Muslim, while media reports indicate that he crashed the plane after experiencing mental health problems.
Mannheimer, who has called Islam a “thousand year crime against Germany,” has since removed the blog post, which had received heavy criticism. Nevertheless, Bara doubled down on his endorsement last night, claiming that depression and mental illness were not a sufficient explanation for Lubitz’s actions: “You don’t murder 150 people because you’re depressed. You eat a whole tub of ice cream maybe.” Bara’s endorsement of anti-Islamic claims reveals not only a disturbing level of underlying bigotry and offensive levels of ignorance, but also his slipshod approach to “research.”
Mike Bara annoys me, though not just for the reasons you think. It’s not just that he’s another in a long line of bigoted idiots who somehow get paid to star in TV shows pandering to conspiracy theorists and racists, but that he can move through fringe circles with such impunity. Bara is a regular on Ancient Aliens, currently airing on H2 and about to resume airing on History on April 10. At the same time, he also is the paid star of Uncovering Aliens on the rival Discovery networks (the show aired on Animal Planet and the Science Channel). Yet neither network objects to Bara using the Ancient Aliens name not just to promote himself but as an integral part of his “work.” Bara has titled each of his recent books Ancient Aliens and something or another. His newest is Ancient Aliens & Secret Societies. Now, you will recall that H2’s parent company, A+E Networks, ordered me to cease and desist from publishing a book that didn’t even share the same title with America Unearthed for fear of “confusion,” yet A+E Networks has raised no objection to Bara flagrantly cashing in on their intellectual property—A+E Networks owns the trademark on the phrase Ancient Aliens.
Perhaps that will change now the A+E Networks has promoted the head of programming for H2 to a new position. According to Deadline, Paul Cabana, the executive responsible for paranoid and angry programming like America Unearthed, Brad Meltzer’s Lost History, and America’s Book of Secrets, has been bumped up to oversee programming at both H2 and the larger History channel. We can look forward, I suppose, to the further sensationalizing of the larger network, though it remains to be seen how Cabana hopes to marry H2’s New Age conspiracy brand to History’s conservative Bible-thumping version of fringe nuttiness.
On another note, although I didn’t want to discuss this again, I feel that I need to document an ongoing situation with Scott Reaney, the Canadian blogger who accused me of stealing public domain material from his blog about the skeletons of giants, in case it escalates. Since I wrote about him, Reaney has continued on a campaign of harassment, sending me vulgar emails and posting libelous statements on his website asserting that I am a pedophile and a supporter of ISIS. I sent Reaney a cease and desist letter demanding he remove the libelous comments, which has provoked Reaney into making promises that he is preparing further harassment:
You are a nutless wonder... and if you got your panties in a knot regarding your inability to grasp those simple ideas, I guarantee that you will have a bona fide shit tsunami for what is coming your way, Huckleberry. I will continue to display the 'sordid details' concerning your multitude of character flaws, beginning April 1st.
As I am sure you know, I have never met Scott Reaney. I made the unfortunate error of replying politely to his first email to me (as ( try to do with everyone who emails me), and this is the thanks I get.
I’m sure that most readers will have already come to a conclusion about Reaney that I cannot legally write, and I am saddened that I have somehow ended up the focus of Reaney’s ire, for (this time) “lying” about nineteenth century people who are not able to defend themselves by dint of being dead.
Let’s end on a happier note as we return to Ancient Aliens. After learning this morning that History plans to mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War with a special Ancient Aliens called “Aliens and the Civil War,” set to air on the main History channel April 10, I came across this rather humorous satire of the Ancient Aliens worldview in which columnist Donnie Johnson professes to have “discovered” thanks to a marathon viewing of Ancient Aliens that his feelings of sluggishness were due not to working three 14-hour days but rather due to an infestation of aliens.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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