Thursday Grab Bag: Nephilim Conspiracies, Tsoukalos on Different Aliens, Glenn Beck's Revisionist Santa, and More
Yesterday I received emails from two television producers from two different production companies. I’ll be talking with one today and another tomorrow. I don’t want to say anything more about it before I’ve had a chance to speak with the producers. However, one of the shows is about hunting across the world for the Nephilim. I’m sure you can imagine my reaction.
What I can say, though, is that I am shocked that over the past few years giants, often of the Biblical kind, have gone from a creationist fringe claim to a widespread and mainstream subject. We’ve seen hunts for giants on America Unearthed (which will be hunting them again this week), The Unexplained Files, and Ancient Aliens, along with Search for the Lost Giants. Now we’re seeing even more programs about giants, or Nephilim, coming down the pipeline. What has made these giants into such a trend? It seems difficult to separate the media’s interest in giants from the success of Bible-themed programming, including History’s smash hit series The Bible and its upcoming Bible-based miniseries The Red Tent.
It’s tempting to put this down to an appeal to the largely conservative tastes of older cable TV viewers. But this seems to extend to other media, too. Consider the example of The Rundown Live, an alternative radio program in Milwaukee. One of its researchers is Kristan T. Harris, a musician, journalist, and self-described libertarian Republican who studied ministry. He just posted an article looking for the “origin” of giants in human history, part of an ongoing research interest into Bible giants and anti-government conspiracies. Harris, it almost goes without saying, misunderstands the subject, wrongly asserting that the Book of Enoch is a genuinely primeval text rather than a text written between 300 BCE and 100 CE:
The first book I suggest you read is the Book of Enoch. The book of Enoch predates the Hebrew Bible and is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed by tradition to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah and 7th from Adam. Giants in history are noted for their cruelty and their eagerness to turn to cannibalism. Which is a common theme among most the giant species, however I am sure not all giants were cannibals.
Harris swallows not just the creationist line but also the ancient astronaut line completely, arguing that Bible giants with horns inspired “Luciferian religions” that were tied to the “Brotherhood of the Snake,” a fictitious conspiracy invented by William Bramley in Gods of Eden from suggestions by Helena Blavatsky in her Secret Doctrine. Just for good measure, David throws in anti-Catholic Nimrod conspiracy claims and a soupcon of anti-Semitic claims about Jewish banking conspiracies. He ties it together with paranoia about the Rockefellers, whom he accuses of hiding the complete text of the fragmentary Book of Giants: “If there is a completed version, undoubtedly it would be in the hands of the Rockefellers.” To this he dumps in some anti-Semitic banking conspiracy nonsense: “The [Rockefeller] family got their start in America with Rothschild money…”
The article descends into Smithsonian conspiracies and crazy occultism: “The true history is being hidden from public eye in order to empower those who partake in the mystery schools.” It’s all very depressing, but sadly entirely in keeping with the widespread pattern of fringe claims being used as mask for anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and nativist claims.
Aliens Are Liberals!
On the other hand, there are those who are completely blind to the political dimension of fringe history. Yesterday ancient astronaut theorist Giorgio Tsoukalos upset conservative viewers of Ancient Aliens by announcing on Twitter that he was “stoked” for today’s announcement of Barack Obama’s immigration policy changes, and he charged Republicans with failing to work in a bipartisan manner.
He also repeated his support for the Affordable Care Act. Tsoukalos, a legal immigrant to the United States, devoted several tweets to partisan political jabs at Republicans, including the claim that Republicans would deny that the sky is blue if Obama said it was. “As an immigrant myself, I will never - NEVER - side with the bitter anti-immigrant crowd,” Tsoukalos wrote.
Many of Tsoukalos’s Twitter followers were upset by his comments, and it is unusual to see an ancient astronaut theorist offering such bald political opinions. Usually, like Jim Marrs and Erich von Däniken, they simply make allusions to their political positions in the course of talking about aliens. It’s also rather unusual for an ancient astronaut theorist to be advocating liberal positions. Von Däniken, for example, slips conservative views about women and minorities into his books, and he attempted to advise Republican president Gerald Ford on ways to combat socialism. Jim Marrs has accused Barack Obama of plotting with the Chinese to destroy America.
Richard Thornton Makes the News
Richard Thornton has devoted the past two years to promoting his brief appearance on America Unearthed, but having milked that cash cow dry, he’s turned to new claims—and they’re making news in Georgia! Thornton is now claiming that piles of rocks found at Little Mulberry Park in Dacula are the remains of the oldest English colony in the Americas, dating back to 1566.
“These look like chimneys and the foundations of houses in the 1500s—and what were they doing in a native American town? Now we think we know,” Thornton WXIA-TV. “It was an English colony.”
A conservationist who works at the park said the stones might be trail markers or ceremonial markers. The only connection between the rocks and a sixteenth century colony is a place name on old French maps, Melilot. Thornton’s claim, however, that the site was the oldest English colony is belied by his own argument, which claims that French explorers founded the settlement in 1566, with the English not arriving until the seventeenth century.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Thornton began writing about back in the summer, when I criticized the claim. In my Library, you’ll find an article from 1860 listing the claim Thornton now makes as one of the best-known hoaxes related to the exploration of the Americas. It’s old news.
Glenn Beck’s Santa Insanity
Finally, let’s end with something a little lighter. Glenn Beck, who recently announced that he has sought treatment from a chiropractic neurologist for hallucinations, has a new project: He’s rewriting Christian history to add Santa Clause as a wolf-killing badass warrior who protected the Christ-child and earned immortality. As Beck said on his Glenn Beck Program:
That’s Santa? Yes, because what does a man do when he’s in that position where he has no hope, no resurrection, nothing? What does he do? He goes on an amazing journey as a hunter, as a gatherer. He eventually is hired by three wise men because he can negotiate, because nobody is going to rip them off, and he knows how to get the very best gifts. And so he negotiates with gold, frankincense, and myrrh and then has to go protect that gold, frankincense, and myrrh and then through a series of events is left there to protect the Christ child, never interacting, just watching.
So, if I read this right, Santa Claus was the first Highlander.
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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