I am really starting to feel the pressure of trying to proofread and index one book while writing a second as the deadlines for both loom. I find indexing and proofreading to be slow-going, particularly squeezing it in among other work. I hate to do it, but I’m going to have to rely on computer assistance to index proper nouns to save time. It’s problematic because it can introduce mistakes due to spelling and/or random similar names that then have to be manually reviewed, but it’s the only way to get through the book quickly enough given the minuscule time given to me. I have to learn to write books that are less fact-dense so each page has fewer indexable terms.
Anyway, while I try to squeeze more indexing into my day, I have only a few minutes to report on the damage that was done to the cider press wrongly described as a sacrificial table at America’s Stonehenge, the colonial-era site that pseudohistorians insist was built by medieval Irish monks, ancient Phoenicians, or some other Old World people before Columbus. Last week someone used a power tool to carve into the stone what looks to be at least part of the phrase “WWG1WGA,” an initialism used by fans of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory Q-Anon to signify “Where we go one, we go all.” The vandal also left behind a wooden cross decorated with the faces of young people. Jeb Card, the author of Spooky Archaeology, discussed the vandalism on Twitter.
The Manchester Union-Leader reported the story and immediately accepted the false claims put forward by the owners of America’s Stonehenge that the site was built four thousand years ago by visitors from the Old World. The article was an embarrassment.
But what makes this situation worse isn’t just the pseudohistory and damage to colonial artifacts. It’s that the Q-Anon / Christian symbolism attached to the vandalism appears to be an attack on the (fake) pagan religious ideas that pseudohistorians have created for the site. America’s Stonehenge has appeared on shows such as In Search Of…, America Unearthed, and Ancient Aliens, where it has been associated with a number of (fake) religious ideas, ranging from sun worship to the pagan blood cult of Moloch. Christians have long identified the Canaanite god Moloch with the Carthaginian god known in Classical literature as Kronos, whose statue received infant sacrifices at Carthage. It was only a few days before the defacement of America’s Stonehenge that one of the hosts on Fox News’s premium subscription service was fired for alleging that Democrats worship Moloch instead of Yahweh.
The owners of America’s Stonehenge instead identified the vandalism as “anti-Masonic,” and the police began investigating it as such. This appears to be because the owners now work closely with Masonic advocate Scott F. Wolter of America Unearthed, whose interpretation of the site now fits into a Masonic view of ancient mysteries.
Basically, there are no winners here.
Update: On his blog, Scott Wolter blamed me (“hate blogger”) and academia for the vandalism, saying that our debunking of claims like his creates confusion among the public, and this somehow causes right-wing loonies to go nuts with power tools.
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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