When Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States last night, politicians, pollsters, and pundits all wondered how they had been so terribly wrong about the intentions of the electorate. The explanations ranged from the technical—incorrect weighting of poll responses—to the systemic—blindness to small town and rural Americans. Watching the election coverage last night, one could see on the blanching faces of the pundits and analysts the exact moment they realized that Trump was on track to win. It was probably at 9:00 PM, when Minnesota and Wisconsin came in as too close to call when polls said they never should have been competitive.
Here in Albany, New York, a heavily Democratic region, the mood on the street was grim. In my admittedly small part of the world, people out and about this morning were ashen-faced and upset, though part of that is likely due to the cold, rainy weather. One group, however, was not. The working class white men already at work in the early hours of this morning were excited.
“Say good-bye to your Obamacare for me,” one supermarket shelf-stocker said to an African-American colleague, only half in jest. She responded, “Why do you always have to call it Obamacare? It’s the Affordable Care Act, and it doesn’t apply to us because we get health care from the company.”
A group of construction workers were equally excited. “I don’t like liars,” one said to his colleagues between puffs on a cigarette. “All the politicians, they’re always lying.” Oblivious to irony, he praised Trump for speaking the “truth.” “He says what I’m thinking about the country.”
At the local barbershop where I get my hair cut, conversation turned to the election at opening time, but didn’t stay there. They seemed to realize that it wasn’t possible to talk rationally about what happened. The barbershop has a mix of white, black, and Latino barbers and an a diverse, if plurality white, clientele. They switched CNN off the TV, and the barbershop went uncharacteristically silent.
Many pundits this morning noted that the Trump coalition was composed of four partially overlapping demographic groups: white people, men, older adults, and those without a college education. I want to point out that this is also the exact demographic audience for fringe history, especially the fringe history offered on channels like History. (The demographics of History Channel viewers are 75% male, almost all white, mostly over 50, and on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Fringe history has been the canary in the coal mine, foretelling what was to come.
Let us leave aside that, in my admittedly unscientific survey, a majority of American (citizen or resident) fringe historians, conspiracy theorists, “white genocide” Solutrean believers, and Nephilim hunters, openly or tacitly supported Trump, including Alex Jones, L. A. Marzulli, Steve Quayle, David Wilcock, Scotty Roberts, J. Hutton Pulitzer, John de Nugent, etc. The most prominent to oppose Trump was probably Giorgio Tsoukalos, an admitted liberal, who tweeted (sort of) support for Hillary Clinton.
It is, to my mind, hardly a coincidence that the current wave of fringe history began in the spring of 2009, with the launch of Ancient Aliens just three months after Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, took office. It was followed by Holy Grail in America that same year, a show about pre-Columbian European colonization of America, which served as a test run for America Unearthed and helped to inspire Curse of Oak Island and other similar shows that seek to extend the depth of time white people have rule America. Other fringe history documentaries had aired in similar timeslots on similar channels and failed to resonate, but these did gangbusters business right in time to capture the reaction against the cosmopolitan, globalized world that Obama represented.
Fringe history is not about the past. It is about the present, and about our culture today. It always has been, from the early days when it served to justify imperialism and colonialism and slavery, to more recent times when it represents a fantasy version of history where selected groups get to imagine a glorious history in which they earned the divine right to power and prestige over other groups. Today’s fringe history, as sold in the media, is about appealing to a certain segment of white Americans’ longing for a history that places them at the center of world history, in command of events, in control of America, and in touch with the divine. The media are amoral, and the fact that so many shows and books promote these narratives speaks to the media’s calculation that it represents a core of white Americans’ psyches.
I erred in trying to contextualize this by suggesting that the 1 to 6 million people who watch any given show are a vanishingly small percentage of the American population. But the fact is that if the media thought there were an audience for an opposing narrative, it would be on TV. It isn’t. This should tell us where the culture outside of the elite currently sits. I don’t have any way of knowing, but my feeling is that the audience for shows about fringe history, cryptozoology, ghost-hunting, and other pseudoscience on TV doesn’t overlap as much as I once thought, and a larger number of people have at least some exposure to the different branches of bad ideas and their cultural messages.
Last week, I was talking with a contractor, the American-born son of Eastern European immigrants, and he asked about my work. I described some of my books, and he said that he loves the History Channel, especially Curse of Oak Island. The interesting thing is that he wasn’t able to recall the name of the show, or to differentiate it from America Unearthed or Ancient Aliens, with which he had gotten parts of it confused. What he did remember clearly, though, is that it was about how all the different Europeans came to America before Columbus and how the real history of Europeans in America was being suppressed. By whom? I asked. He didn’t know. It was just something the TV said. He wasn’t even really aware of any of the implications of the messages these programs send, but something about them just resonated, at an almost subconscious level.
Since that was depressing, I thought I might end on a humorous note. The Daily Mail published an absolutely awful article by Shivali Best about the scientific study that claims the Santorini eruption of 1600 BCE set off devastating tsunamis through pyroclastic flow. The article tries to tie this event to the destruction of Atlantis and makes two ridiculous claims. The first is that Atlantis is “one of the oldest myths of mankind.” This is ridiculous since it dates back only to the time of Plato, around 360 BCE, younger than the Iliad or the Odyssey. The second, in a sidebar, is a laughable example of circular logic revolving around the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri on Santorini: “Assuming that Atlantis was actually Akrotiri, means that the island was actually the lost Atlantis.” Well, yes, if I assume that writer Shivali Best is actually a chatbot that generates randomized word salad for articles, then that would also mean Best is actually a chatbot. Q.E.D.
11/9/2016 11:24:49 am
Assuming Oak Island was Atlantis and didn't sink, but was pushed across the Atlantic, then Oak Island is Atlantis. Residents of Atlantis had enough time to dig a deep pit in which they stored their precious artifacts and knowledge before they sailed East on ships made from corn stalks bound to pumpkins. They landed in Ireland and became what we know as Druids.
11/10/2016 10:01:05 am
The Founding Fathers rejected the pseudo-histories of the Bible.
THIS COLAVITO BLOG
11/10/2016 10:02:45 am
NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR ON THE HOMEPAGE THAT IT IS BIBLICAL APOLOGETIC AGAINST GRAHAM HANCOCK, SCOTT WOLTER, AND ERICH VON DANIKEN
11/10/2016 11:18:05 am
What do any of your posts have to do with my quasi joke? I know a post of yours was deleted yesterday, but Jason has every right do that because this is HIS blog. This is not your blog, or the website of any government. If you want to post anything you want, create your own blog. You have the right of free speech. Go out an a street corner and tell everybody who passes you by about your views.
BIBLICAL BELIEF VERSUS PSEUDO HISTORY
11/10/2016 10:06:12 am
11/10/2016 02:12:20 pm
I believe it's spelled "good night Irene".
11/10/2016 10:08:16 am
AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE WAS NOT BASED ON CHRISTIAN VALUES
AMERICAN BILL OF RIGHTS
11/10/2016 10:14:22 am
THIS BLOG IS AGAINST THE BILL OF RIGHTS
11/10/2016 10:26:26 am
Please! Take that racket outside!
The Kathleen Syndrome
11/10/2016 10:28:01 am
COME ON KATHLEEN.,
11/10/2016 02:50:02 pm
I have some warm cookies. Have one. I promise you that by the time you finish the cookie you'll feel right as rain.
11/10/2016 03:43:29 pm
I had some brownies like that once.
An Over-Educated Grunt
11/10/2016 11:08:46 am
You do realize that free speech restricts the government from silencing you, and that by definition a private individual is not a government agency, right? This isn't jasoncolavito.gov. It's jasoncolavito.com.
11/9/2016 11:56:38 am
I am 70 years old. All my life I have been a liberal. Most of my life I have been disappointed by the lack of progress our society needs to make. That is the fate of being a liberal. Our job is to take the human race by the scruff of the neck and drag it kicking and screaming into the Twenty Second Century, whether it wants to go or not. Expect to be disappointed.
11/12/2016 02:49:11 am
First amendment's importance is way overblown. With a true, progressive government it wouldn't be needed. More so it would be a hindrance to keeping lies and hate from spreading. Freedom of speech is just a tool, not a value on itself.
11/9/2016 12:22:23 pm
I personally would be with admitting I was wrong to be a skeptic if only all those wise benevolent ancient astronauts would return and help us to govern ourselves because we apparently have some very strange ideas about what that means.
11/9/2016 12:23:50 pm
"would be okay with"
11/9/2016 02:50:13 pm
I would be okay with admitting I was wrong of the aliens gave me a super suit like in "The Greatest American Hero."
THE JESUS CHRIST
11/10/2016 10:05:17 am
BUT THIS IS A JESUS CHRIST BLOG
11/10/2016 10:16:22 am
JC, Please! Use your indoor voice!
The Kathleen Syndrome
11/10/2016 10:29:17 am
Yeah - JC = JASON COLAVITO
11/10/2016 11:24:49 am
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
11/10/2016 09:48:44 pm
Once again, you accuse anybody who disagrees with you of being a Bible-basher. I'm not, V isn't, and I don't think Jason has ever discussed his religious views one way or the other.
11/9/2016 01:09:32 pm
Thank you Jason. I agree El Cid.
11/9/2016 01:46:24 pm
Without the gross media attention you have in the US today, we in Britain have already been through the delusional juvenile phase of believing god was exclusively on our side
11/9/2016 02:06:26 pm
Hi from Italy,sometimes I wrote here some months ago and sorry, I can prove it,I m one of the only here in Italy who predict Trump victory.The reasons?????Very simple mr Trump,money apart,is the classic american,about 70% of your citizens are exactly as mr Donald,do not be surprised or angry,it s your nature.I know we had Berlusconi but believe me,women apart,is much better at least he never had nuclear codes
11/9/2016 02:28:46 pm
Trump is the classic cartoon of the ugly American. But Italy is far from innocent. In my grandparents' living memory your country elected Mussolini. My grandfather had to fight for America against the Axis, which included Italy, where his own distant relatives fought for Mussolini, though fortunately not on the same battlefields. You currently have a Northern League that has, within even my living memory, actively sought to destroy Italy through breaking the country apart. Every country has its progressive and regressive forces, and Italy is no different.
11/9/2016 02:54:11 pm
If you came to America and spent any length of time here you would quickly discover 70% of us are NOTHING like Donald Trump. I lived in Italy for two years and I know 70% of Italians are NOTHING like Mr. Berlusconi.
11/9/2016 02:55:39 pm
I await Chancellor Trump's removal of all ancient illegal aliens from the US Reich.
11/9/2016 03:17:19 pm
I hope it doesn't get that bad, but Trump's already monumental ego has now gone intergalactic.
11/10/2016 03:11:43 pm
So if DT decided to expel all the illegal AAs he would have to build a really big dome to take care of the issue. Who is he going to get to pay for THAT?! And what kind of trade agreements will he have to make to import potable water and air? Curiouser and curiouser...
11/10/2016 03:45:29 pm
I guess he would have to build some kind of sphere around the planet, like the one enveloping planet Druidia. Maybe he can get the Spaceballs to pay for the sphere.
11/10/2016 05:45:11 pm
Nixon did that in an episode of Futurama.
11/14/2016 05:24:40 am
He'll just build a Dyson Sphere. Nothing major, just a little old Dyson Sphere.
11/9/2016 03:52:42 pm
I was going to go on at length about this bizarre election last night, but it is typical of two old sayings often attributed to events in WW2.
11/9/2016 03:59:10 pm
I believe it was the German manufacturing elite that helped Adolph Hitler get into power because he was talking about expanding the military and starting massive social works programs like the Autobahn, and these programs meant lots of money for them, but they also felt they could control him once he was in power.
11/9/2016 09:28:13 pm
Kal, I actually think you hit the nail on the head in one aspect. The Left got so caught up in 'identity politics' that they could not unify when it mattered and so they lost.
11/9/2016 09:33:10 pm
Jason, you rock.
11/9/2016 10:44:56 pm
11/9/2016 11:25:06 pm
This was the Democrat's election to lose. If they had run any decent candidate they could have wiped the floor with Trump; but they chose a charisma-free woman who has been embroiled in a series of legal, moral, and ethical scandals ever since the early 1990s. They have no one to blame but themselves.
terry the censor
11/11/2016 08:30:09 pm
11/10/2016 02:07:16 am
Jason. You better start laying off those picnic baskets with the fruit cakes. They're also making you fat, Not being healthy isn't smart, or in your case, is it?
11/10/2016 07:39:16 am
And I'll say it again, you seem to be the only one publicly tying these things together. This fringe stuff has an audience because it shores up core racist beliefs.
11/10/2016 08:55:09 am
Trump is living the American Dream wealth, a beautiful wife, a family man, taking on the Establishment and winning (Mr Smith goes to Washington) and now the ultimate accolade, the Presidency.
11/10/2016 11:23:07 am
He'll be a family man until she gets sick of him, like his other two wives did, and she'll leave him, just like they did, but he'll already have a younger model in the wings, so to speak.
11/10/2016 02:41:49 pm
(Disclaimer: I am among the minority who read and appreciate this blog - I am a non Young Earther born again Christian with moderate conservative leanings. I have voted for the Republican candidate for President for the preceding 11 election cycles. This time, with the choices presented, I abstained from voting for POTUS. I wanted to cast a write in vote for the president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, Theo Epstein, but my state, Missouri, does not allow a write in on the ballot.)
11/10/2016 11:02:10 am
Hi Brian -
11/10/2016 12:00:01 pm
The irony of the Trump presidency is that the guy is an elite, isn't going to be able to deliver on all those promises, and if he was able to, would utterly undo 65 years of history.
11/10/2016 04:07:14 pm
Trump is the classic cartoon of the ugly American.
11/10/2016 04:55:49 pm
Are you saying ONLY white folks are into faux history and archaeology? That's not what I see.
11/12/2016 03:50:51 am
No afrocentrist are also into pseudo history.Both and whites and blacks are racist stealing native history and nobody blinks an eye about it.
11/13/2016 04:01:16 am
There is a big diference between afrocentrism and white supremacy, ok? Context is everything. People walking with transparents saying that black lives matter aren't the same as hate grups walking around with ones which say that white lives matter. Afrocentrism is about looking for a deeper, spiritual link to the past that was taken away from people of color by their oppressors. False history perpetuated by white supremacists like trump supporters is all about asserting their dominance.
11/13/2016 06:09:34 pm
Afrocentrism is black supremacy using pseudo science and lies to assert superiority.Afrocentrism is Eurocentrism in black face.Both are stealing other peoples history which doesn't belong to either of them.
11/13/2016 07:13:10 pm
Ghana is not Egypt. Afrocentrism can suck it.
11/10/2016 07:31:46 pm
11/11/2016 12:10:00 am
Generation Snowflake is told for the very first time that they can't have a cookie. Tantrums ensue...
11/11/2016 01:51:38 pm
Ah yes. I'm sure the black people who saw their church burned down by a Trump supporter are weak little snowflakes who can't handle a bit of non-PC japery:
11/13/2016 07:11:49 pm
Tawana Brawley says what?
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
11/11/2016 08:50:42 pm
Trump throws a tantrum every time his ego is slightly bruised, and you're blaming millennials for having a fit?
11/12/2016 12:53:39 am
Having been around some time, I'm rather used to having my preferred candidate lose an election. I've never felt the need to shut down traffic or burn a city over it. You can't win 'em all you know.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
11/12/2016 01:41:20 am
Trump isn't an ordinary candidate; he's the least qualified president in US history, and his campaign has inspired a wave of xenophobia. That said, I think the protests are a bit premature. The time to protest is when his incompetence and erratic temperament cause a disaster. I don't think we'll have long to wait.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
11/12/2016 07:48:55 pm
Plus, although the votes aren't fully tallied yet, it looks like Clinton won the popular vote by a larger margin than any losing presidential candidate except Jackson in 1824 and Tilden in 1876, both elections in which the presidency was decided by fishy backroom political deals. Trump may be constitutionally elected, but he truly is not the president the people chose.
11/13/2016 10:26:38 am
The more partisan you are, the more likely you are to embrace intellectual dishonesty. Case in point? Consider what would have been your argument had Clinton lost the popular vote, but won the electoral college. You'd be giving me a civics lesson on the importance of the Constitutional electoral process. But please don't mistake me for a partisan over this point. I simply made a glib remark which wasn't likely to play well here. Hope some could find the humor though.
11/13/2016 12:57:03 pm
"Case in point? Consider what would have been your argument had Clinton lost the popular vote, but won the electoral college. You'd be giving me a civics lesson on the importance of the Constitutional electoral process."
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
11/13/2016 03:50:38 pm
I've always thought the Electoral College was stupid. If Clinton had won it but not the popular vote, I'd be saying that the Electoral College did at least save us from the least qualified president in American history, but it's still stupid and should be abolished.
11/13/2016 07:10:22 pm
"Trump throws a tantrum every time his ego is slightly bruised, and you're blaming millennials for having a fit?"
11/13/2016 10:45:41 pm
"It's difficult for me to find humor in this situation any more, particularly jokes that target a demographic that overwhelmingly voted against this disaster."
11/11/2016 03:40:36 am
So true Jason stay out of politics. You are a know it all arrogant ass. You were supporting a corrupt crook clinton. That bitch wants unfettered abortion of children up to birth.
john (the other one)
11/11/2016 08:23:05 am
It's amazing how you just managed to say at least 4 things that were incorrect in such a small amount of text. Can anyone spot more than 4?
11/11/2016 09:53:40 am
My 4th Grade Grammar teacher is spinning in her grave.
11/13/2016 07:07:54 pm
It's fringe science and lazy thinking to relate everything or even one's current hustle or hobby to the latest election.
11/14/2016 12:23:08 am
I am very grateful to have found this site.I'm a former Ancient Aliens fan.I loved the show until it became more ridiculous and absurd. Somewhere in my high school educated brain was a little critical thinker waiting to come out.Please continue to educate the uneducated. I may have ended up like one of the people in the movie , "Idiocracy".
11/14/2016 11:07:32 am
Just now catching up on my reading: as usual a great blog post… I totally agree, for what value my opinion may hold, that the connection to 2009 with the overwhelming pseudo tactics taking precedent over facts and the recent election floodgates of fake news sites/memes complied with a lack of critical thinking that is being undervalued. Sadly we have a long way to go to turn the pseudo/fake news tide by sheering up the strength of critical thinking methodology and honoring the value of plain old fashioned common sense and decency of civility in dialogues.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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