Today I’d like to talk about a subject that makes a lot of people uncomfortable but which is important for understanding the development of fringe history. That subject is esoteric Nazism. This is not a moot point or a weird sidelight to fringe history; instead, it is central to the development of many of its claims. Fringe figures such as Frank Joseph and Jacques de Mahieu have been explicitly affiliated with Nazism and have incorporated Nazi racial ideas into their work. Others, like the late fringe theorist Miguel Serrano, have adopted esoteric Nazism as a belief system and incorporate Aryan racial theories into their promotion of fringe history. Serrano even started a religion, Esoteric Hitlerism, to promote his belief that inter-dimensional beings and Nazis were the path to salvation.
Fringe history has a Frank Joseph problem, and it seems like no one really wants to deal with it. The problem isn’t that Frank Joseph writes—prolifically—about fringe history topics, but rather that individuals, companies, and organizations involved in fringe history are intentionally omitting mention of his background and denying readers of his work the information they need to evaluate Joseph’s claims.
In case you’re interested in Mormon archaeology, I discovered that I’m not the only one to have noticed the FIRM Foundation’s efforts to claim Scott Wolter as having proved the veracity of the Book of Mormon. Apparently FIRM’s Rodney Meldrum sent out a newsletter that “loudly trumpets” America Unearthed as verifying the existence of Paleo-Hebrew in America. You can read more discussion of this at the Mormon Heretic website, itself run by a devout Mormon.
Now on to today’s topic…
It’s no secret that fringe history writers don’t like critics, and they also tend to have double-standards when it comes to criticism. To take a recent example, Scott Wolter called me a “hate-blogger” on his website earlier this year and then went on the radio to plead that unkind words directed at him were inappropriate: “So why are we having these arguments, people attacking me, criticizing me? Let’s stop already, OK?” Similarly, the previous year he said that I was driven by “religious zealotry rather than truly scientific thinking” before asserting that only factual arguments were valid rhetorical points.
Way back at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Joseph Smith laid the foundations for Mormonism based on what he believed was the best historical theorizing of his day. To that end, he incorporated into his revised history of North America the myth of the Mound Builders and the widespread belief that the first Americans were a lost tribe of Israel. According to the Book of Mormon, which Smith claimed to have translated magically from unseen ancient texts buried in upstate New York, the pure Hebrews were killed off by their fallen brethren who had lapsed into idolatry and were cursed with red skin for their sin, becoming Native Americans (Alma 3:6-7; 4 Nephi 1:10; 2 Nephi 5, etc.).
It’s time for our regular dose of a pre-hysteria, which I define as the white-hot excitement fringe believers feel when they think they’ve discovered “proof” that mainstream accounts of prehistory are wrong. Today’s studies in pre-hysteria come from our favorite artifact exporter, Brien Foerster, and from a Hindu nationalist in India. Let’s start with Foerster.
I’m very excited that I just received Irving Finkel’s new book, The Ark before Noah, a study of the history of the Flood myth in the Near East and its transmission to the Hebrews. I’m interested to learn Finkel’s new conclusions about when and how the Flood myth entered into Hebraic lore. The book’s centerpiece is the new cuneiform tablet describing the construction of a round ark, a detail hitherto unknown from other extant Mesopotamian cuneiform texts such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Atrahasis Epic. It’s going to take me a while to read the book, but after I finish it I’ll report back on what I thought of his conclusions.
To follow up briefly on yesterday’s post about Bigfoot and UFOs, I neglected to mention a few pertinent facts that probably should be on the record. First, the idea that there were giant apes hiding in the woods did not begin in 1958, although the Bigfoot myth does. In 1929, for example, Dr. François de Loys claimed to have photographed a five-foot tall ape in South America, though it is almost certainly a hoax created from a spider monkey; and in 1924 some miners claimed to have met a group of ape men in Ape Canyon, at Mount St. Helens, though skeptics believe they actually mistook some campers for monkey-people. (Later, in the 1960s, one of the men, Fred Beck, would claim the creatures were “not entirely of the world” and that he had Theosophical-style psychic communication with Native American spirit guides.)
In discussing Stan Gordon’s claims that Bigfoot is part of an extraterrestrial plot, I discovered that American conspiracy culture apparently has made the Sasquatch-UFO connection a standard part of the extraterrestrial conspiracy, and thanks to some insightful comments on yesterday’s blog post I see that science fiction apparently anticipated the development of the Sasquatch-UFO connection at each stage of its development.
This morning I read an interesting diatribe by the pseudonymous Annoyed Librarian in the Library Journal in which he criticizes the Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville, Penn. for inviting longtime UFO researcher Stan Gordon to deliver a presentation on flying saucers at the library. The presentation occurred on Saturday, and it isn’t really the kind of thing I’d comment on except that I couldn’t get over the title of Gordon’s book: Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook.
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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