"The Atlantic" Repeats Afrocentrist Claim about Pre-Columbian Africans in the Americas; Plus: "Epoch Times" Under Fire for Trump Links
This past week, conservatives across the country rose up to take on the most pressing issue of the day, the New York Times’ ongoing series reporting on the continuing legacy of slavery on modern American life to mark the 400th anniversary of slavery in the lands that eventually became the United States. Conservative leaders claimed that the paper was doing a disservice to America by sowing division through a discussion of historical facts and making America look bad by explaining the compromises and corruptions that slavery created at the heart of the American social, economic, and political systems. In the Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi of American University wrote in support of the Times’ project, but in doing so, he offered his own ahistorical claim.
In his piece, Kendi claimed that “Some Africans probably came before Christopher Columbus” and included a link to Ivan Van Sertima’s discredited Afrocentrist book They Came Before Columbus, which is full of fake history, misreported facts, and intentional fabrications. It’s a minor point in Kendi’s article, but it is a disappointment to see a scholar who heads up the Antiracist Research and Policy Center endorse fake history in support of the actual history of African-descended people in the Americas.
Meanwhile, NBC News reports that the Epoch Times has become one of the most prominent outlets spreading pro-Trump propaganda among the Chinese diaspora and beyond. According to NBC, the paper’s parent company, a nonprofit called Epoch Media, has spent $1.5 million on pro-Trump advertising as part of a push to gain Trump’s support against China’s communist government.
The Epoch Times has long used conspiracy theories and sensational stories about ancient mysteries as clickbait to bring in readers and exposed them to the paper’s conservative and right-leaning opinions. In recent years, the Epoch Times has tied itself closely to Trump, featuring articles written by Trump campaign staffers and receiving social media praise and links from Trump and his family.
Regular readers will remember the Epoch Times, which has ties to Falun Gong, because that paper ran hundreds of fringe history and pseudoarchaeology stories from writers that included the staff of Ancient Origins and used pieces on aliens and lost civilizations as bait to lure readers to their political and social commentary. Some of the paper’s lowlights have included articles on alleged 150,000-year-old pipes in China, claims that the ancient Mexican calendar originated in China, claims for ancient Chinese UFOs, and praise for America Unearthed. The paper continues to publish conspiracy theories on a wide range of anti-science issues, including anti-vaccine claims and QAnon conspiracies.
It’s the same method we see the Russians using with Sputnik and RT, utilizing UFOs and ancient mysteries to lure readers to harder conspiracy theories that pull farther to the extremes.
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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