"Hunting Hitler" Exonerates Moe Howard of the Charge of Being Hitler; Plus: Is the FBI "Childish" about MJ-12?
There was a bit of surprising news from Leiden, the Netherlands, where the National Museum of Ethnology announced about a week ago that a famous Mixtec artifact, a skull covered in a turquoise mosaic, is a fake. After tests revealed that the mosaic was glued on with modern glue, researchers determined that the artifact had been assembled from ancient mosaic tiles and an ancient skull in modern times, probably by a dentist in Mexico in the 1940s or 1950s. I can remember seeing that piece in textbooks when I was in school, and it’s surprising to discover that it’s a forgery.
The Curse of Oak Island was on last night, and it offered nothing by way of ancient conspiracies, so I have nothing to say about it. Hunting Hitler came on afterward, and the stooges who bumble their way through the investigation engaged in some ridiculous hypocrisy. You will remember that in the season premiere, they showed a photograph of Three Stooges comedian Moe Howard, who was Jewish, taken in the 1970s and suggested that it was a photo of Adolf Hitler, murderer of millions of Jews, from 1961. Apparently between then and now the show must have discovered the “truth” because the cast now states that the photograph would be “irresponsible to show on the air” until they can get “confirmation” that it depicts Hitler. They already showed it on the air, in episode 1 of this season. Apparently, they finally realized how offensive it would be to accuse a Jew of being Hitler. “We have to be really careful with this,” one of the Hunting Hitler stooges said.
The footage offering this disclaimer on the photo looks like it was shot later, with other shots in their offices produced after the fieldwork for the season was complete, and it is obvious that the “photograph” seen from behind in this footage as the cast pretend to examine it is not the one presented in earlier episodes. The “new” photograph, for example, is thin with a pure white background, while the one seen earlier was thick and yellowed. It’s a prop copy, or, more likely, just blank.
The footage seen in the season premiere of the computer-aided comparison of the Howard photograph to Hitler is repeated here, but now Howard’s face is blurred out, and the dots that indicated a likely match have been removed from the comparison a computer analyst is seen making. The team concludes that the photograph is not Hitler—but, crucially—they say this was based on their own outside investigation more than the computer analysis. They sheepishly refuse to say what the photo really is because—as should be obvious—they don’t want to admit to suspecting a Jewish comedian of being a mass murderer of Jews. Nevertheless, to save face, the “team” says that the picture totally looks “like an aged Adolf Hitler” and agree that anyone might believe the unnamed Moe Howard was really the Führer based on the picture.
Weirdest of all, they did all of this in the first four minutes of the episode, before moving on so the audience could quickly forget the misstep that had been set up as the season’s most important evidence.
Translation: It looks for all the world like they got blindsided by the fact that the picture was really Moe Howard and scrambled to forestall an embarrassing controversy.
But the fact that they wrapped up their ass-covering in a claim of ethical responsibility--after showing Moe Howard as an exact match Hitler in the season premiere!—without bothering to address and apologize for their offensive error speaks volumes about what passes for ethics on the History Channel.
Meanwhile, the editor of Atlas Obscura, Eric Grundhauser, has a piece about the Majestic-12 documents that demonstrates why people with only a superficial knowledge of their subject matter shouldn’t try to write clever bits of snark about things they don’t quite understand. Grundhauser is right, of course, that the documents are fake. What he doesn’t understand is how the FBI dealt with false information or what it meant when they scrawled notes on documents.
The headline of Grundhauser’s piece announced that “The FBI Debunked These UFO Documents in the Most Childish Way Possible,” and Grundhauser himself writes with apparent snark that “The FBI says the whole story is ‘bogus.’ Yes, that's a quote. It wrote ‘BOGUS’ across the documents. […] To drive the point home, the word ‘bogus’ was then scrawled across the filed documents in giant capital letters.”
This might look weird if you’ve never read FBI documents, but one of the things that writers should do before making fun of something that looks strange is to compare the seeming anomalous data to other documents. While the agent who scrawled “BOGUS” on these particular files (to make clear that they are not real, lest anyone be fooled) did so in larger size and a thicker marker than other agents, it wasn’t a dramatic departure from past practice. Almost all of the old FBI files, going back to the dawn of the UFO era (and presumably before, on other subjects), have notes scribbled all over them. On quite a few occasions, agents have noted that information is false, fake, planted, or otherwise unreliable. You can see this for yourself by reviewing various declassified files. The Flying Roll “interdimensional” alien material I discussed the other day has “No Action” written in large cursive handwriting to indicate that the agency considered it pointless to pursue, and many other documents have hand written comments on the validity of the material described therein. Other agencies did the same thing. There are, for example, a couple of different declassified copies of material the American embassy in Moscow sent back to the U.S. in 1968 about Soviet UFO coverage. The State Department copy is clean, but the NSA copy has a paragraph circled and the word “PLANT” scrawled in big letters next to it because the NSA had duped the Soviets into covering a fake UFO story.
I have not had the opportunity to read through documents on other subjects to see how they are marked, but I can’t imagine they were very different.
It’s not “childish” to mark the MJ-12 documents as “bogus” since they are, nor is it shockingly out of step with how documents were handled prior to computerization.
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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