Top MUFON Official Quits Over Organization's Continued Support of John Ventre a Year After Ventre's Racist Rant
On Wednesday, the Smithsonian Channel will air the controversial Canadian Ice Bridge documentary that revived claims that the first Americans were Europeans known as the Solutreans who crossed the Atlantic during the Ice Age. The documentary was roundly criticized in Canada for its lack of attention to the racist uses of the Solutrean myth and for its endorsement of a hypothesis for which little evidence exists. While the show aired on the CBC in Canada, the country’s major public broadcaster, here in the U.S. it will screen on digital tier cable, meaning that pretty much nobody will watch it. The Smithsonian Channel is a partnership between CBS-owned Showtime and the Smithsonian Institution, which employs Dennis Stanford, the major advocate of the Solutrean theory and the star of the documentary
Meanwhile, there is new fallout this week from last year’s racism scandal at the Mutual UFO Network. Regular readers will recall that last May, one of the organization’s most important figures, John Ventre, posted racist comments to Facebook in which he ranted about systemic bias against white people and alleged that “everything this world is was created by Europeans and Americans. F’ing blacks didn’t even have a calendar, a wheel or a numbering system until the Brits showed up.” MUFON took little action, issuing a milquetoast statement distancing themselves from Ventre, who blamed literal demons from hell, arguing that “Satan’s minions” control flying saucers and are responsible for atheists and ancient astronaut theorists alike. Ventre resigned his leadership post, but the organization never cut ties with him. Only now, however, are some of MUFON’s members realizing this fact.
In January MUFON selected Chris Cogswell, a Minnesota-based podcaster with a PhD in chemical engineering, as their new director of research. On Friday night, just four months later, Cogswell abruptly resigned after learning that MUFON is still closely aligned with Ventre. He sent MUFON the following letter:
To whom it may Concern,
MUFON has never formally broken ties with Ventre, and the organization has enabled him to remain engaged in the UFO field even after exposing himself as a racist with extreme occult beliefs. The broader UFO community has also continued its involvement with Ventre. In a few weeks, just about exactly one year after his racist rant, Ventre will be a featured speaker at the Mile High Mysteries Conference in Colorado alongside Linda Moulton Howe, John Greenewald, and others.
I applaud Cogswell for taking a principled stand, and I continue to be amazed that ufologists in general terms have a rather high tolerance for racism, both from figures in the field and from the ideas promulgated in the name of ufology. Ancient astronaut theorists have not been shy about advocating for outdated beliefs about the inferiority of the African race, for example. Erich von Däniken once called Africans a bungled hybridization experiment only rectified by the creation of the white race. Jim Marrs and David Icke have flirted with outright anti-Semitism, and the so-called alt-right features figures who happily cross between the UFO and racist worlds, like Jason Reza Jorjani, who advocates for the Aryan race (broadly defined) and for the ancient astronaut theory.
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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