From Sci-Fi to Alt-Right: Extremists and Conspiracy Theorists Using Lovecraft to Attack Feminism and L. Ron Hubbard to Take on International Bankers
A controversy arose this past week when anthropologists discovered that white supremacists had manipulated Google’s page ranking algorithm to make a racist and anti-Semitic hate site the snippet chosen for Google’s instant answer to queries about the definition of Boasian anthropology. “Boasian Anthropology is a pseudo-scientific Jewish assault on White European racial consciousness and identity,” the Google info-box informed its readers, taking the text from a white nationalist blog. Google expressed regret over the situation but said that the company had no responsibility to evaluate the content they excerpt: “The feature is an automatic and algorithmic match to the search query,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge. This is disingenuous, of course, since Google knows full well that many users cannot distinguish between a third-party snippet and an “official” Google-endorsed definition, particularly since Google offers similar-looking info-boxes for dictionary definitions, mathematical calculations, and other facts it presents as its own. Within hours of the controversy erupting, however, the anti-Semitic result disappeared from the Google top results.
This is not, however, the only place where white supremacists, nationalists, and separatists have been on the march. As I noted recently, white nationalists and the so-called alt-right have developed an interest in H. P. Lovecraft because of Lovecraft’s mainstream popularity as a horror author and his white supremacist and anti-immigrant racist views. Just as a generation ago the New Age saw weird fiction as a way to open readers to a range of alternative lifestyles and beliefs, so too does the so-called alt-right now want to use horror fiction as a metaphorical opening to racism.
On the Age of Shitlords website, there was a noxious article from an unnamed “guest writer” who offered a half-developed argument that Lovecraftian horror can be used to help young men understand why feminism is attempting to destroy men. Specifically, the writer suggests that the Lovecraftian process of discovering the ancient horror beneath the façade of the modern world—which he likens to taking the “red pill” in the Matrix movies—is an analog to how women come to see the entire world as evil through the corrupt and secret knowledge of feminism. The argument is doubly dark because it also suggests that education and knowledge are harmful to women.
Citing the experience of Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist blogger, the writer offers this: “What she is essentially saying, is in the context of her becoming a women’s studies major (the unlocking of the knowledge, or ‘red pilling’), she was able to see the horrors in the world for what they truly were.” He compares this to “The Call of Cthulhu,” where the process of putting facts together unleashes the horror of knowledge. This is, for the author, not a good thing but rather a false consciousness.
The problem here lies, that for most people the forbidden knowledge that either provides, even when backed up with suitable evidence will be outright rejected as if it were mere lunacy. This applies to both the feminists, as well as us. Because to many people the assertion that there is a patriarchy, is just as ludicrous sounding as saying there is a feminist agenda to emasculate the western world.
It shouldn’t surprise us that angry young men would latch on to both Lovecraft and anti-feminist alt-right rhetoric, but it should disturb us nonetheless.
But this kind of march to the abyss has been going on for some time. Years ago we saw how conspiracy theorists organized a campaign to align claims of giants and aliens with shocking Anti-Semitism. I’ve frequently mentioned that conspiracy theorist Jim Marrs rides right up to the line of anti-Semitism in condemning international bankers as agents of evil, recycling conspiracies originally created to demonize Jews. In a new interview with Skeptico, Marrs continued his dance with extremism in an interview in which he first praised Donald Trump for taking America back to the “self-confident and productive” society of the 1950s and then explained his newfound appreciation for the cosmic truths of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s novel Battlefield Earth. And of course he liked it because he saw it as a reflection of these same anti-banking conspiracies that he has previously linked to Jewish bankers.
Specifically, Marrs delivered a shameless and frankly bizarre advertisement for Battlefield Earth in which he praised the novel for exposing the workings of “intergalactic bankers,” which, yes, are actually part of the novel, but seem to have drawn Marrs’s interest due to his special obsession with international banking conspiracies:
But you can actually learn a lot from reading Hubbard’s work. Battlefield Earth, they’ve just issued a new edition, last year, and you can get really good deals on that in Amazon, and you can go to their website, battlefieldearth.com. But what’s cool is, here’s a story of an alien invasion, but yet it’s not like what we see today, like in Independence Day, where the aliens just come and want to blow up everything; these are the intergalactic bankers who have loaned money to the intergalactic mining corporation, giving them a contract to loot the mineral resources of the Earth. But they have a timetable, they’re supposed to complete it in such a such of time, and they’re beginning to push on this timetable and they’re getting worried because these pesky humans are causing problems, so they’ve got to go to the planet Psychlo and get these tall, hairy aliens to come and try to subdue the pesky humans on the earth.
This is what TV Tropes calls the “Space Jew” trope, in which stereotypes about Jews are projected onto evil space aliens. Marrs neglects to note that there is also a holocaust of an intellectual alien race in the novel, which also has echoes of Jewish stereotypes, and the humans of the novel’s era (3000 CE) are Neo-Nazis who worship Hitler as a genius and essentially a Messiah. No wonder Marrs loves the book!
Marrs also believes that Scientology’s critics are wrong about the organization because when he visited Scientology, they showed him a good time, like the Potemkin villages that showed Catherine the Great how wonderful the life of serfs was in Russia. He said that “based on my experience, everybody I’ve ever met, that’s had anything to do with Scientology are just really kind of nice, good people.” And as we know from years of experience with fringe writers and conspiracy theorists, personal feelings count more than evidence, and the truth of claims is based on personality rather than facts.
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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