Ivan Van Sertima: They Came Before Columbus (not)

Ivan Van Sertima: They Came Before Columbus

By Spencer Mays

It seems difficult even for historians to understand how civilizations develop their traditions and cultures.  We see cultural symbols such as the Pyramids around the world and human nature tells us to connect the dots somehow, instead of giving each civilization independent authority.  There are extreme ideas of aliens creating Pyramids and other landmarks around the world and giving humanity technology.  At the same time there are marginally more legitimate alternative history theories worth researching, that the ancient world exchanged cultures across continents to a much greater extent than we are aware of.  Those who support the idea of transcontinental cultural exchanges in antiquity are labeled cultural hyper-diffusionists.  One of the most well known and respected cultural diffunionists is Ivan Van Sertima, who believes Egyptians of the twenty-fifth dynasty, sailed across the Mediterranean, the Atlantic ocean to the Americas, where they had enormous influence on civilizations of Mesoamerica, including the Ancient Olmec.  Van Sertima put his research into They Came Before Columbus in 1976.  Van Sertima uses biased sources, which infects his evidence with bias; there are also major problems with his theory.

Theories that Aliens had to do with the building of the pyramids around the world are rampant on the Internet.  After typing, “aliens built the pyramids” into a Google search there are over 700,000 results.  These websites have a wide spectrum of theories and details in alien contact theories.  Most are extremely informal in appearance and content, and don’t seem to try to be factually sound, with phrases like “according to Wikipedia.”  Many credit aliens with using humans to build pyramids around the world including Egypt, China, and the Americas, as well as other ancient structures such as Stonehenge.  The most common arguments these websites use is that the Pyramids are too complex to be built by Ancient humans.   For example many websites point out that on the first day of summer solstice, the sun sets directly in the middle between the two Pyramids of Giza from the view of the Sphinx and also they align with stars on the Orion’s belt.  The placing and building of the pyramids required the Ancient Egyptians and Mesoamerican civilizations to have a large amount of knowledge on astrology, and complex mathematical concepts such as pie.  According to the writers of these websites these concepts could not have been discovered until thousands of years later.  There are many theories on why the aliens built pyramids.  Some say it was for a place to store their radioactive waste, and others say they were used as landmarks, as if Aliens need landmarks on earth after traveling across galaxies to get here.  Theories are synthesized with other conspiracies like the Pharaoh’s curse, and Atlantis.  Of course governments around the world hide evidence of ancient alien contact.  Many websites seem to have the notion that people in Ancient Antiquity were primitive cave and hut dwellers that could not possibly have figured out how to create such complex structures.  They are both overrating their intelligence and underrating ancient people’s intelligence.  Theories of alien contact with ancient civilizations are on the ridiculous side and there is absolutely no undisputable evidence for it.

On the less ridiculous side, are theories of cultural diffusion in ancient Mesoamerica.  Betty Meggers and Mike Xiu had many works supporting the theory that Chinese of the Shang Dynasty originated the Olmec civilization in Central America.  Theories on the origins of the Olmec began in 1862 with Jose Melgar, who was part of a team that discovered the Olmec stone heads, which he explained in two essays had distinctly African features (Montellano 201).  In the late 19th and early 20th century there was a trend of cultural hyper-diffusionists in the United States led by Leo Wiener, a Harvard professor of Slavic literature (201).  Wiener wrote a three volume work called Africa and the Discovery of America in 1922 (202).  Wiener’s evidence for African contact with Mesoamericans concentrated on similarities in language (202).  Works by Leo Wiener and others were quickly dismissed but picked up again in the late 1960’s during the Black Nationalist movement.  Ronoko Rashidi has many Afrocentric essays about Ancient Africans and their role in civilizations in Europe, Asia and the Americas (202).  Clyde Ahmad Winters had one of the most extreme stances in the African-Olmec cultural diffusionist theory saying the Africans taught the Olmec everything they knew in architecture science, and astronomy, and agriculture (202).  The most well known writer on African-Olmec cultural diffusion was Ivan Van Sertima, with They Came Before Columbus.

Dr. Ivan Van Sertima was a well-respected prolific writer and professor at Rutgers University.  He was born in Guyana, South American and went to London University and Rutgers University (JAC).  He has degrees in anthropology and African Studies (JAC).  Van Sertima is a successful literary critic and served on the Nobel Committee to nominate Nobel Prize winners in literature from 1976 to 1980 (JAC).  He has published many books mostly on African history including The Golden Age Of the Moors, African Presence in Early Europe, and Egypt Revisited.  Van Sertima is also a poet and lecturer, and has traveled to Universities around the world (JAC).  In 1987 Van Sertima spoke in front of the U.S. Congress against the celebration of Columbus Day, saying at the end of his speech “You cannot really conceive of how insulting it is of Native Americans…to be told you were discovered” (JAC).

In They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima claims that explorers from Egypt’s twenty-fifth dynasty made their way to the Americas.  Egypt during the twenty-fifth dynasty was ruled by the Nubian Kushite Empire, which ruled Egypt from 760 to 656 BCE (“Shabaka”).  The two most important rulers of the dynasty were King Piankhi, who ruled from 741 to 712 BCE, and his brother Shabaka who ruled from 712 to 696 BC (“Shabaka”).  The major events in the twenty-fifth dynasty include the preservation of northern and southern Egypt after a succession, and a growing tension between the Kushite Empire and the Assyrians, who were growing more powerful.  Shabaka incited the Palestinians and the Syrians to revolt against the imperial Assyrians but they were put down (“Shabaka”).  In preparation for war with the Assyrians, the twenty-fifth dynasty Egyptians had an advanced Navy with many fleets of ships (“Shabaka”).

The other civilization Van Sertima claims to have traveled to the Americas prior to Columbus was the Mali Empire, also called the Mandingo Empire.  The West African Empire ruled from 1230 to 1600 A.D. and was one of the wealthiest and largest Empires in world history (“Mali”).  The height of the Mali Empire was the 1300’s and during that time they had regulation over all trans-Saharan trade routes (“Mali”).  The Mandingos traded their gold for salt, slaves, figs, horses, copper, sugar, and other commodities.  Two-thirds of the worlds gold originally came from the region of the Mali Empire.  (“Mali”)

The Olmecs are America’s oldest civilization, and existed between 1200 and 300 BCE (Reilly).  Their domain ranged ninety miles of the south eastern shore of the Mexican Gulf Coast in the modern Mexican states of Veracruz and Tabasco (Reilly).  They had three major urban centers call San Lorenzo, La Venta, and Tres Zapotes (Reilly).  The Olmecs had such a large amount of public works, such as pyramids, and huge carved stone heads, that there must have been a certain amount of complex social class structure, with a large working class (Reilly).  The Olmec also began a huge project in reshaping a natural hill into a plateau, which required mass amounts of fill (Carmack 50).  Originally the Olmec civilization was considered the “mother culture,” and it was theorized that the practices and traditions of the Olmec spread throughout Central America and even South America (Reilly).  But relatively recently this theory is less accepted, since there are civilizations out of the Olmec reach with similar cultural features (Reilly).  The Olmec are the civilization that Ivan Van Sertima focuses on in his theory that Nubian and Mandingo travelers influenced Mesoamerican cultures.

The Olmec are best known for their colossal stone heads.  These heads were skillfully carved out of volcanic basalt (Carmack 53). These large stones would have either had to be carried or floated down the river miles from the query (Andrea).  There are seventeen heads total and each is unique in facial features and detail of the helmets they are wearing (Andrea).  The largest head is nine feet tall (Andrea).  The facial features of the Olmec stone heads are a huge argument Van Sertima uses to attempt to prove Nubian and Mandingo explorers diffused with Olmec culture.

Van Sertima seems to be motivated by the need to prove his theory of African-Native American diffusion instead of interpreting facts objectively and judging by is rhetoric he is less critical of his writing then he should be.  In the introduction to They Came Before Columbus Van Sertima writes about how he found out about the theory of Africans and Phoenicians traveling to the Americas prior to Columbus and influencing the Native culture when he found Africa, the Discovery of America by Leo Wiener in a Princeton professor’s library in 1969 (Sertima xiii).  He then writes about how he was at first skeptical of the theory but extremely excited to learn more about it (xiv).  He called the theory “fascinating” and “revolutionary.” (xiv) He knows the theory changes our basic knowledge of the history of ancient civilizations.  Throughout the book Van Sertima seems to be enthusiastically trying to prove a theory that he is personally excited about.  He uses phrases such as “There is no doubt” and “There is no question whatsoever” when making judgments based on evidence, and calls the evidence “overwhelming” (Sertima 23) “remarkable” and “undisputable.”  These phrases show Van Sertima is not especially critical of the evidence he uses or the assumptions he makes from the evidence.

Besides letting enthusiasm for the idea blind him, Van Sertima seems to have a nationalistic agenda behind his work.  By sponsoring a Black Egypt and Nubia that advanced other culture’s civilization, Van Sertima is attempting to strengthen his race’s pride.  The reason this theory is so popular in the African-American community is that it intensifies the African-American heritage and pride in the race.  As an Afrocentric historian, Van Sertima seems to want to force African history where it does not go.  He may be researching this theory in order to better understand his own African history.  At times he may let his race pride bias him when understanding the superiority of African civilizations compared to Mesoamerican civilizations.

Of the many sources Van Sertima cites, several of them are outdated when he could be using more modern and accurate works by researchers who actually worked in the excavation.  A large part of his argument for cultural diffusion between Ancient Egyptians and Olmec is their cultural similarities.  But when he argues about the cultural similarities he cites sources written before most knowledge of Olmec civilization even existed.  He cites Leo Wiener’s Before Columbus written in 1925, Donald Mackenzie’s Myths in Pre-Columbian America written in 1923, Grafton Elliot Smith’s works from 1915 through 1923 in his chapter titled “African-Egyptian Presences in Ancient America.”    Smith is cited throughout Van Sertima’s work, which tears apart its credibility.  Smith not only believed that civilization originated from White rulers of Egypt and then spread throughout the world, but that certain races, such as aboriginals of Australia were racially inferior (Cooke).  The problem is that details on the Olmec ruins were not published until a 1925 expedition by Tulane University (Carmack 26).  La Venta was not fully excavated until 1943 by Mathew Sterling (Carmack 27).  In this chapter he mentions La Venta, one of the two most important Olmec ruins, and information on Olmec and Mesoamerican myths, dances Olmec culture yet, knowledge on La Venta was not fully developed until the 1940’s.  Van Sertima strings general information on Mesoamerican culture together with Olmec culture using sources that do not apply to the Olmecs.  It appears to be a misleading attempts to use evidence of one topic and applying it to another.  Also, at the time Wiener and Mackenzie wrote, there were no definite dates on Mesoamerican civilizations.  Van Sertima should have used works from the previous forty years, which had a more accurate timeline of ancient civilizations.

As well as outdated sources, Van Sertima also cites a few works that have the same agenda as he does, which takes away from his objectivity.  Van Sertima frequently cites Wiener, Mackenzie, and Smith were all considered cultural hyper-diffusionists who tried to prove Mesoamerican civilizations had influence from ancient African and Arab cultures.  He also cites a piece called “”African Explorers in the New World” by Harold Lawrence, which was published in The Crisis, a magazine connected with the NAACP that leans towards heavy Black nationalism.  Van Sertima relies on these sources as evidence to prove his theory.  He should cite less biased and well accepted texts.  In order to use accurate facts, in a non-biased manner Van Sertima should have used sources that were not attempting to prove such an unaccepted historical theory.

A defining example of Van Sertima’s outdated and biased sources is his use of a letter written from a priest to a historian.  The letter was written by Abbe Hervas, to Clavigero in 1780.  The letter is about how Hervas noticed similarities between the Mayan calendar and the Egyptian calendar of the same time period.  He uses this as evidence and even quotes it to prove his point (Sertima171-2).  The Mayan calendar was not closely studied by experts until the 1930’s (Melton).  This is 150 years after the letter Van Sertima cites was written.  This means the Mayan calendar was not fully understood until then.  It is not very scholarly of Van Sertima to cite such an outdated source just to prove his point.

Van Sertima’s theory has a few crucial historical inaccuracies, including chronological problems.  Sertima claims the Olmecs built a specific types of Pyramids, called stepped pyramids, and smooth sided pyramids because of the influence of Egyptian transcontinental travelers.  The problem is that the times in which these two civilizations built this type of Pyramid do not match up.  Van Sertima says Olmecs built smooth-sided or stepped pyramids at La Venta because of Black Egyptian sailors who arrived between 800 and 680 B.C. (132, 155-6).  The last smooth triangular-sided pyramid was built in Egypt for pharaoh Khenjefer in 1777 B.C. (Vol. 4. 216).  The last stepped Pyramid in Egypt was built around 2630 B.C (Vol. 4 118).  This means the Egyptians taught the Olmec about how to build structure that had not been built in their region for 1,000 and 2,000 years earlier.

Also, the civilization that inhabited Egypt was at that time of Van Sertima’s “contact period” was a different one than the one who built these pyramids.  They were what Petrie calls the Ptolemaic Dynasty and what Van Sertima calls the Nubians.  How and why would a civilization travel across the Atlantic to teach another civilization an extravagant funerary building that even another civilization did at least 1,000 years earlier?  Also, how would they even know how to build such extremely complex objects?  Van Sertima acknowledges this counter to his theory on page one-hundred and fifty-six, saying “the heyday of the Egyptian step-pyramid was long over.”  In order to explain, he writes that simply living next to these Pyramids that were built at least 1,000 years earlier inspired them to spread the tradition to other civilizations in Mesoamerica (Sertima 156).  The idea that the Nubians worked on, or maintained these previously made Pyramids is found nowhere.  He also says the Nubians built Pyramids of the same style, just on a much smaller scale (156).  This statement is not exactly true.  The 6th and 5th century B.C was the Twenty Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.  (vol. 3 page 4).  During this time the Egyptians buried their dead in secret, with small tombs with pyramids that had pointy tops as the case for Ramessu who was unnamed and unwrapped in his tomb (4).  This however is not, as Van Sertima claims, similar to the Pyramids built by the Olmecs, even on a smaller scale.   The Olmec Pyramids were as the Encyclopedia Of Latin American History and Culture describes, “a fluted cupcake” (Miller). Historians suggest the pyramid’s shape was inspired by the shape of volcanoes of central Mexico (Miller).  The Olmec pyramids were flat at the top not pointed as the Nubians pyramids were.  The Nubians neither taught the Olmec how to build their Pyramids, nor the ancient Egyptian’s pyramids.

Van Sertima continues with the chronological inconsistencies.  On page 155 Van Sertima claims Egyptian step pyramids were built with influence from Egyptians in Teotihuaca and Cholula.  These pyramids were built in 150 A.D. and 700 A.D.  These are even more ridiculous claims then the Olmec one since there is an even greater time disparity between the buildings of this type of pyramid.  For the Teotihucana pyramid was built over 2,000 years earlier and the Cholula Pyramid was built at least 2,400 years earlier.

In Chapter Six, Van Sertima claims Mandingo traders of ancient Africa influenced Mesoamerican Language.  He focuses on the Ancient Olmec and their hypothetical contact with Africans.   However, as proof of linguistic similarities, Van Sertima compares many words in Mandingo and Nahuatl.  Nahuatl, or Nahua, was spoken by Ancient Aztecs, which reach their peak in the 16th century C.E., 1800 years after the Olmec.  The Olmec spoke a Mixe-Zoquean dialect, which is not linguistically connected to the Nahua (Andrea) and (Carmack 52).   It does not make sense to argue the Olmec language was influenced by Mandingo language by comparing Mandingo and Nahua language since there is no connection.  Also, we still know very little about Ancient Mesoamerican languages (Andrea), so it is premature to attempt to compare them to other ancient languages.  Language taught to the Olmecs would not influence the language of the Aztecs.

In Chapter Nine Van Sertima uses cultural practices by the Olmec sand the Ancient Egyptians as evidence of cultural diffusion.  He writes about cultural attributes such as what he calls “kettle-caps,” which the Olmec warriors are depicted in art wearing and ancient Phoenician warriors are described as wearing (Sertima 153).  He also compares the traditions of royalty among Mesoamerican civilizations and the Ancient Egyptians.  These include the use of the color purple, and mock beards (164).  These vague similarities of course can all be attributed to coincidence and human nature.  Obviously beards are going to attributed to wisdom and experience, just as they are in many other cultures besides the Olmecs and Egyptians.

One of Van Sertima’s biggest pieces of evidence for cultural diffusion are the colossal Olmec head statues, which he says, have uniquely “Negroid” features such as full lips and broad noses (Sertima 142-144).  Van Sertima says these heads were built to resemble the twenty-fifth dynasty Egyptian trans-continental travelers.  He goes so far as to say these Egyptians were worshipped as deities (153).  First of all, these stone heads may very well have been built before Van Sertima’s “contact period” of 800-680 BC.  Both the World History Encyclopedia and The Legacy of Mesoamerica (Carmack 50) say the Olmecs were a “thriving” and “flourishing” civilization by 1200 BC and these stone heads could have been built between 1200 and 300.  It is true these sculptures were probably built to resemble “political leaders, economic leaders, deities, athletes, or others who made notable contributions to the community” (Andrea).  Van Sertima neglects logical explanations for the features of the stone heads that are more likely than his theory.  It is overly-Afrocenric to Full lips and broad noses are not exclusively African features.  Asiatic ethnicities such Filipinos and eastern Asians contain these traits at once and in mixture.  Furthermore, the Olmecs themselves could have looked exactly like this.  Van Sertima does not take into account that the Native population in Central America dropped from 15 million to 1.5 million between 1492 and 1600, due to disease and Spanish violent colonization (Cook 5).  This means Native ethnic groups had been entirely swept off the face of the earth.  An ethnic group with the exact physical features that the Olmec stone heads display could very possibly have existed.  There are many other explanations for the features of the Olmec stone heads.  The Encyclopedia Of Latin American History says factually that the stone heads were built to resemble infants in the elite ruling family.  The Olmec made many pieces of art, which had infants such as the many terracotta figures (Reilly).  These figures also resemble people with oddly shaped limps and heads, as well as half human half-jaguar figures (Reilly).  Clearly, the Olmec did not always sculpt art as realistically as they could, and they definitely exaggerated human features, and idealized human features in their art.  This means it is not possible to analyze ethnic traits in their art and come to a proper conclusion.  While the evidence of cultural influence on the Olmec or other Mesoamerican civilizations can be dismissed as coincidence or other given more reasonable explanations.

Evidence that Olmec and Mesoamerican culture were influenced by African cultures is extremely unconvincing.  Although, given how advanced the Kush Empire and the Mali Empire were it is plausible they made their way by sea to the Americas.  Any map of oceanic currents shows that there is a strong current that flows from the Ivory Coast of West Africa, straight to the Gulf Coast of Mexico.  Ivan Van Sertima makes sure the reader is aware of this many times.  However, it does not make sense to claim that a boatload, or even a fleet of Africans could drastically influence the practices and traditions of a civilization that lasted almost 1,000 years.  If they did have such a huge influence, then the evidence would be obvious.  Van Sertima is certainly working very hard to attempt to draw cultural similarities when if his theory were true it would be easily done.  If the Egyptians did spread their cultural traditions then it would be traditions of their own time, not of Egyptians 1,000 years previous to them.  Not only is this theory unrealistic but also it is also insulting to the Mesoamerican cultures.

The theory of They Came Before Columbus has insulted the history and culture of Native-Americans by diminishing their role in their own history.   Van Sertima writes about the idea of a small number of Africans, relative to the number of Native Americans having a huge influence on their civilization’s history.  This is insulting because it almost implies Mesoamericans were basically inferior, and far less advanced than the rest of the world.  Van Sertima implies the African travelers were so far advanced that the Olmecs stopped everything they were doing to carve out their faces on Volcanic rock and transport them miles to the Olmec cities.  On a smaller scale he writes of a few Africans being immediately accepted as leaders by the Natives.  For example he accepts the idea of “a group of seventeen Negroes shipwrecked in Ecuador…who in short order became governors of an entire province of American Indians” (Sertima 33).  Van Sertima responds to this criticism a couple times.  He says “Fusion is the marriage-not the fatal collision-of cultures” (Sertima 147).   A “marriage” of civilizations takes away from the independence, and individual accomplishments of each one.  Phrases like these are simply disclaimers by Van Sertima and their meaning does not show through in the general message of the book.

Understanding for Van Sertima and other Afrocentric historians must be given.  They are a product of two factors.  The first being an education system, that remains Eurocentric even until today.  African, Asian, and Native-American history is dangerously neglected and even distorted.  African civilizations such as the Kush Empire and the Mali Empire are never mentioned in schools, elementary through secondary.  While European history is emphasized like it’s the only history there is.   Up to the 1960’s American public education taught students that African-American slaves were happy while being slaves.  These factors not only cause a distrust for established history, but causes people of non-European races to seek knowledge of their own race’s history, and then overcompensate by possibly exaggerating and imposing their history on the history of other races.  The second factor is habitual accepted radical Eurocentric history.  Theories by Historians like Grafton Elliot Smith, who believed the rulers of Egypt must have been European, as well as rulers of Asian civilizations, may cause Afrocentrism, by again, forcing non-Europeans to overcompensate in their race’s history.

Other than the sympathy of Afrocentric historians, the lesson received from researching They Came Before Columbus, was that such researched and meticulous historical concepts needs to be given a respectful and professional response.  Van Sertima was not claiming aliens built pyramids around the world.  He was claiming a possible although unlikely theory.  Right after They Came Before Columbus was published, a flood of articles came out childishly criticizing the piece.  One example is a 1977 New York Times article by Glynn Daniel, in which in the first sentence calls it a “rubbish book.”  He then continues to trash Van Sertima’s work throughout, saying his theory is based on “fantasies” in the last sentence, and has very little actual, content based, historical criticism (Daniel).  Ironically Daniel quotes Grafton Elliot Smith (Daniel), who has just as little credibility as Van Sertima.  Van Sertima’s work at least should receive intellectual, professional and thought out criticism.  Immediate name calling and dismissing of the work simply reveals a conservative historian, who has a closed mind.  Critics like Daniels are unwilling to figuratively sit at the same table, and dispute plausible historical theories methodically.  Van Sertima is neither a holocaust denier, nor an Alien abductee and he deserves a respectful, and academic response.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Andrea, Alfred J. and Neel, Carolyn “The Aztec/Mexica Empire.” World History Encyclopedia. Vol. 9: Era 5: Intensified Hemispheric Interactions, 1000-1500. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011. 472-474. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Dec. 2011.

Carmack, Robert M., Janine Gasco, and Gary H. Gossen. The Legacy of Mesoamerica: History and Culture of a Native American Civilization. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.

Cook, Noble David. Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest (1492-1650).Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. Print.

Cooke, Bill. “Smith, Grafton Elliot (1871–1937).” Encyclopedia of Anthropology. 2005. SAGE Publications. 9 Dec. 2011. <http://0-www.sage-ereference.com.ignacio.usfca.edu/view/anthropology/n815.xml&gt;.

Daniel, Glyn. “America B.C.” New York Times 13 Mar. 1977. Print.

JAC. “Dr. Ivan Van Sertima.” Journal of African Civilizations. 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. <http://www.journalofafricancivilizations.com/page/9048&gt;.

“Mali.” The Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia for Students. Ed. William Chester Jordan. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1996. 111. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Dec. 2011.

Melton, J. Gordon. “Mayan Calendar.” Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices. Ed. J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010. 1837-1839. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Dec. 2011.

Montellano, Bernard Ortiz. “They Were Not Here before Columbus: Afrocentrism of the 1990’s.” Ethnohistory 44.2 (1997): 200-22. Jstor. Web. 19 Nov. 2011.

Miller, Mary Ellen. “Pre–Columbian Art of Mesoamerica.” Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. Ed. Jay Kinsbruner and Erick D. Langer. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2008. 333-337. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 8 Dec. 2011.

Petrie, William Matthew Flinders. A History of Egypt. Vol. 3. London: Methuen &, 1905. Print.

Petrie, William Matthew Flinders. A History of Egypt. Vol. 4. London: Methuen &, 1905. Print.

Reilly, F. Kent, III. “Olmecs.” Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture. Ed. Jay Kinsbruner and Erick D. Langer. 2nd ed. Vol. 4. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2008. 896-898. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 8 Dec. 2011.

Sertima, Ivan Van. They Came before Columbus. New York: Random House, 1976. Print.

“Shabaka.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 130. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Dec. 2011.

Walllenfels, Ronald. “Sea Peoples.” The Ancient Near East: An Encyclopedia for Students. Vol. 4. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2000. 63-64. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 10 Dec. 2011.

 

 

 

 

The Armenian Genocide Denier Kamuran Gurun

Nshan Kesecker

Historical Methods

December 15, 2011

 

Denial of the Armenian Genocide: Kamuran Gurun

The Armenian people had been experiencing persecution and hardship in the land called Armenia since ancient times due to their geopolitical location at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. They were able to maintain independent to semi-independent kingdoms for significant amounts of time from 301 B.C.E. until 1375 C.E., when the Kingdom of Cilician Armenia was destroyed. The Ottoman Empire was able to gain control of the majority of the Armenian population centers in Cilicia and Eastern Anatolia during their rise to prominence in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 19th century, Armenians in the Ottoman Empire began demanding more rights and autonomy, bringing some attention to their cause from Western European powers. In 1915, during World War I, the nationalist Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire plotted to destroy the Armenian people and end the so-called “Armenian Question,” resulting in the Armenian Genocide that resulted in the deaths of up to a million and a half Armenians. However, despite the fact that most scholars are in agreement that the Genocide took place, most countries today, including the United States of America, do not recognize the Armenian Genocide. This is largely due to the efforts of Turkish lobbyists to influence politicians against accepting the Genocide as fact. In the book The Armenian File: The Myth of Innocence Exposed by Kamuran Gurun, the author attempts to debunk the Armenian Genocide, though he fails due to the sloppy scholarship that is prevalent in his writing. 

Gurun’s introduction and first chapter focus on ancient Armenian history. In these sections, he attempts to degrade the Armenian nation by revising the history of its kingdoms of antiquity. He claims, citing historians such as Herodotus as proof, that Armenians did not exist as a people in the geographic region of Armenia until the 4th century B.C.E. He goes on to claim that Armenia only existed as an independent kingdom from 95 to 66 B.C.E., and that in every other period of its history it was either ruled by “feudal princes” or was a pawn of the Persian or Roman/Byzantine Empires. Not only are Gurun’s claims about ancient Armenian history completely irrelevant to the topic at hand, the Armenian Genocide, but they are also erroneous. In his introduction he claims that Armenians had no interest in their own history as a people since the first book produced following the invention of the Armenian alphabet in 405 C.E. was a translation of the Bible. Though Gurun makes this sound groundbreaking with his blunt language, this fact is not particularly surprising considering the alphabet was created by a monk employed by the Catholicos of the Armenian Church at the time, St. Sahak. It is important to note that Gurun omits the fact that Mesrob Mashdots, the main creator of the alphabet was a monk employed by the Church, calling him only a “religious man.” (Gurun xii) His conclusion is dubious anyway considering the fact that the first book translated was the Bible, which was of considerable importance to Late Antique Christian communities to say the least. It is also important to note that Armenia had a strong tradition of oral history similar to many other peoples such as Native Americans and ancient Celtic tribes, and these traditions show up partially preserved in the writings of Moses of Chorene. Gurun also fails to note that there were proto-Armenian alphabets in use prior to the development of the alphabet of 405, which were in fact used as a basis for the creation of the complete alphabet that is still in use (with minor additions) to the present day. The end of the introduction is devoted to claiming that the book is written objectively and without prejudice toward the Armenian people.

In the first chapter Gurun begins by delving into ancient history. He mentions the opinions of various other scholars regarding the relationship between Armenians and the people who lived in the Armenian Highland prior to the Armenians, such as the Urartians. He attempts to illustrate how the Urartians were unrelated as a people to the Indo-European Armenians, who migrated into the area later. Many scholars adhere to this opinion, and Gurun only brings it up to show how Armenians are alien to the Armenian Highland and convince the reader that Armenians did not really belong in Eastern Anatolia anyway. When citing from Herodotus, he takes a passage that mentions the “Cappadocians,” “Cilicians,” and “Armenians” and claims that they are referring to geographic regions rather than people. This is a completely incorrect interpretation of Herodotus, since when he wants to talk about geographic regions, he clearly says place names such as “Cilicia” and “Armenia,” not to mention that in Herodotus’ time Cappadocians and Cilicians (not to mention Armenians) were separate groups of people and not just people living within those geographic regions, despite Gurun’s claims to the contrary. 

It is difficult to ascertain Gurun’s point with his interpretations of ancient history, but he continues into the Classical and Medieval periods. His interpretations of history do not improve over time, and in fact begin to reveal more sloppiness in his scholarship. His first error occurs when he mentions the conquests of Alexander and states that Armenia came under Macedonian control. This is in fact a false statement, since the Achaemenid appointed satrap of Armenia, Yervand, became king of Armenia after the fall of the Achaemenid Empire and was not incorporated into the Macedonian Empire. This dynasty, known as the Yervanduni or Orontids (331-189 B.C.E), is not mentioned by Gurun at all, and he skips to the next dynasty, the Artashesians. (189-1 B.C.E.) He claims that the Artashesian dynasty began as a vassal of Rome, which is completely false, especially considering that Rome’s arch-nemesis of the time, Hannibal Barca, fled to the Armenian court for protection in the 180’s. Gurun then goes on to state that Armenia was only independent for thirty years during the reign of King Tigran II (r 95-55 B.C.E). This is a complete revision of history, since during the majority of Tigran’s reign, Armenia was not only independent but also conquered territories down to Syria. Gurun seems to equate independence with having the ability to conquer your neighbors, which is simply false. His strategy of revising history to make it seem as though Armenians were never a significant force within Armenia continues into the Middle Ages, when he states that the Bagratuni dynasty (885 C.E.-1045 C.E.) was unable to control the various Armenian feudal principalities, and was merely a vassal of the Arab caliphate. Gurun continues to be incorrect in his interpretations of history, since the Abbasid Caliphate at the time exerted little influence outside of Mesopotamia and Armenia was in fact for much of the period embroiled in a static conflict with the Atabegs of Azerbaijan, who did not answer to the Caliph in Baghdad. 

Gurun devotes a significant section of his first chapter to the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1198-1375 C.E.). He calls this kingdom a “state in the full meaning of the word.” This is a strange assessment, since the structure of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was exactly the same as the prior structure of the prior Armenian Kingdoms in Greater Armenia, with feuding baronies and kings who struggled to control them. Not only this, but Gurun misrepresents Armenian Cilicia as a united kingdom at the founding of the first barony in the region in 1080 C.E., which is simply untrue. The Roupenian barony that Gurun speaks of needed another century to defeat its neighbors and consolidate its position before being bestowed the title of kingdom by the Papacy in 1198 C.E, which had close relations with the kingdom through the neighboring Crusader kingdoms. Gurun’s faulty analysis of the status of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia only reveals more about his lack of skill as a serious historian.

Another fallacy in his argument is that the situation of the Bagratuni kings was not dissimilar to the situation of their contemporaries in France. King Hugh Capet (r. 987-996) controlled Paris and its environs, but had little sway over the other feudal lords of France. However, this does not mean that French people do not have the right to live in France, not to mention that Gurun’s concept of a nation-state did not exist until centuries later, after the Armenian kingdoms had been destroyed. Following his diatribe against the concept of an Armenian state, Gurun ends the first chapter by stating “the so-called ‘Armenian Question’ which passes from mouth to mouth is, just like the claims we have examined above, a figment of the imagination; in other words, an imaginary building whose only foundation is similar baseless claims.”  Gurun shows in this statement that by revising Armenian history to make it seem like Armenian nationalist claims in the 19th and 20th centuries were baseless as opposed to the claims of other nationalities, he can illustrate how Armenians had no right to advocate for autonomy and human rights within the Ottoman Empire. This is a claim that makes little sense whether his interpretation of history is correct or not.

Not only are his claims false, but the book is filled with several simple signs of scholarly laziness. Gurun constantly calls kings “princes” in an effort to falsely belittle their positions. There are also several mistakes in the numbering of certain rulers. He calls Mithridates the Great of Pontus “Mithridates IV,” when he was in fact Mithridates VI (r. 120-63 B.C.E.), and King Artavasdes II (r. 55-34 B.C.E.) “Prince Artavzade III,” the latter of whom is not only misnumbered but also misspelled.  Errors such as these are common in his analysis of ancient history and further disprove his qualifications as a credible historian.

Gurun then moves on to the beginning of the Armenian Question, which has its origins in 19th century. Gurun attempts to show how the minorities living in the Ottoman Empire were utilized as tools of the Great Powers, especially Russia, for their own political purposes. In the 1800s, according to Gurun, the Armenians were living without any discontent in the Ottoman Empire even while nationalist movements were going on in the Balkans, leading to the Balkan Wars. He states that the Ottoman reform movements such as the Hatt-i Sharif of Gulhane, which included provisions to grant more rights to the Armenian millet of the Ottoman Empire, were in fact opposed by the oppressed minorities, due to the requirement of military service. This is a fabrication. Gurun also makes the blatantly nationalist statement that only Turks had been dying for the freedom of the people in the Ottoman Empire, when in fact the janissary corps, one of the main branches of the Ottoman military until 1826, was comprised entirely of conscripted Christian subjects. The author seems to be unable to realize that even if some Armenians were being rallied by Russia for her own purposes, it does not necessitate the facilitation of the deportation and destruction of a whole people, though the author does not seem to distinguish between Armenian conspirators against the Ottoman Empire and innocent Armenian civilians. Gurun also seems to be unaware that the Ottoman government only proposed the reforms to appease Russia, France, and Britain without intending to ever carry them out. 

Another important aspect of Gurun’s treatment of the century leading up to the Genocide is his blatant omission of events that occurred in Greece and that Balkans, often commenting that they are not relevant to the subject at hand. This is in fact an attempt to hide the growing ethnic conflicts within the Ottoman Empire that were not limited to the Balkans. The Ottoman Empire had already stained its human rights record earlier in the 18th century in these drawn out conflicts. In 1822 Ottoman forces massacres tens of thousands of Greeks on the island of Chios in retaliation for equally brutal massacres carried out by Greek forces after the capture of the Turkish controlled town of Tripolitsa (Dadrian p. 12). Back and forth massacres continued during the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830), necessitating “humanitarian” aid from the Great Powers (Britain, France, and Russia essentially) to end the conflict, resulting in a fully independent Greece rather than a Greece with some autonomy incorporated into the Ottoman Empire (Dadrian p. 14). Despite the similarity between these events and the Armenian Question, Gurun chooses to ignore them knowing that they would be detrimental to his case.

Gurun attempts to belittle the cause of the Armenian revolutionary movements by focusing on the intent of a small minority of revolutionary writings. He states that “banditry was prevalent in the east” and claims that Armenians were no more victims of this banditry, largely carried out by Kurdish tribes, than their Muslim counterparts. He attempts to show that the Armenians are privileged whiners when he gives numbers showing that the majority of the richest sector of the Ottoman population was made up of Armenian businessmen. While this may be true, they were a very small minority as the majority of Armenian villages in the east were subjected to random attacks and double taxation imposed on them by Kurdish brigands, which Gurun fails to mention. The Sultan Abdul Hamid II (r. 1876-1909) also failed to note that Armenians in the region of Sassoun were resisting due to this policy of double taxation, and ordered massacres on the basis that the Armenians were in open revolt. Similarly, incidents of small Armenian groups causing trouble in the Eastern vilayets were utilized as bases for further massacres of Armenians, with the government even arming and inciting mobs to attack Armenians indiscriminately. Expectedly, Gurun omits these facts from the record, choosing to focus on dubious interpretations of the terrorist acts of a few revolutionaries, who certainly did not represent over a million Armenians within the Ottoman Empire.

A major event that altered the course of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century was the 1909 revolution that ousted the Sultan Abdul Hamid II and replaced him with the outwardly more liberal Young Turk, or Ittihadist party. Armenian revolutionary parties played a major part in the coup, since they figured that the more liberal Young Turks would enact and implement reforms to benefit Armenians within the Ottoman Empire. The vast majority of Armenian leaders supported the Yount Turks, despite the massacres in Adana province that began shortly after the Young Turk coup and were intensified by Ottoman regular military forces. Gurun ignores the fact that there were over 100,000 armed Kurdish tribesmen in the Eastern Provinces, and that the government had done nothing to stop them from terrorizing the countryside. He does mention that there were a few Armenian and Greek bands who roamed the countryside in a similar manner, but these were very limited in number and did not participate in any significant, organized action. General Andranik Ozanian, who would later fight in the Russian Army during World War One on the Caucasian Front commanding a brigade of Armenian volunteers, noted prophetically to the Armenian revolutionary leaders that he believed the Kurds were not being stopped so that they could be used to massacre Armenians at a later date. Andranik was the most powerful of the Armenian revolutionary military leaders, and in fact restrained his forces from participating in attacks on innocent Turkish and Kurdish subjects of the Empire even though tensions were very high, stating that “I only fought against the Beys and against the government… I recognize only one nation: the nation of the oppressed.” Gurun ignores the fact that the government allowed Kurdish brigands to remain armed and dangerous across the Armenian populated provinces, and goes on to the subject of World War One and the Genocide itself.

Gurun states that prior to the start of World War One, Armenian revolutionary parties were in collusion with the Russian Empire and Armenians within the Russian Empire for the purpose of gathering recruits from Turkish Armenia. There was an effort to recruit Turkish Armenians into the Russian Army by the few leaders who opposed the general consensus of the revolutionary parties to support the Ottoman Empire, but the number of recruits garnered by these means was only up to 5,000 soldiers. At the beginning of World War One, the majority of Armenian leaders as well as the general population within the Ottoman Empire supported the Empire when hostilities broke out with Russia. In fact, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were conscripted into the Ottoman Army in a plot to weaken the Armenian population, and they were ordered to perform the tasks of “pack animals” in the Army. Gurun attempts to show that all Armenians in the Empire were in collusion with Russia and were prepared to fight on behalf of the Russians, but in fact this is a fabrication and an exaggeration of very minor incidents of sedition. In fact many of the sources Gurun utilizes were propaganda organized by the Young Turks for the purpose of inciting violence against Armenians in the Empire. By claiming that Armenians all over the Empire were in open revolt and joining Russia en masse, Gurun attempts to justify the initial deportations of the entire population of Armenians by claiming the Ottomans had no other choice for the survival of their war effort in the Caucasus. He also attempts to refute that the goal of the Ottomans was deportation of the Armenian population, let alone liquidation, by analyzing the etymology of the Arabic word tehjir, which apparently comes from the Arabic word for emigration. He then states that the word tehjir was not used when describing the undertaking, making his analysis of its etymology seem more pointless than it already was. April 24 is generally accepted as the date of the start of the Genocide, when over 2,000 Armenian intellectuals and leaders were arrested and either executed or forced into death marches from Istanbul. Gurun attempts to belittle this date by stating that only a few hundred revolutionary leaders were arrested, even though this is a false statement. Gurun then points out several laws and statements by the Young Turk leaders that support the idea that the Armenians were merely being relocated away from the front into new settlements and provisions were made to ensure the safety of the convoys. In fact. the Ottoman leaders utilized a careful system of encryption to avoid a public outcry for their genocidal measures, such as using words like “relocation” and stating that those who harm the Armenian convoys will be punished, when in fact they were well aware of what the “relocations” would accomplish. Gurun points out that the Young Turk authorities never explicitly stated that Armenians were going to be killed as a result of the “relocations,” but this is not surprising and similar methods of encryption were utilized by the Nazis during World War Two while carrying out the Holocaust. 

Gurun also revitalizes the idea that Armenians were in open revolt and places the resistance of Musa Dagh in that category. Similar to the tactics of the Ottomans used in the late 1800s, this is simply a false statement. The Musa Dagh resistance occurred due to the Armenians of the area hearing of the “relocations” and acting accordingly to save their own lives. The Armenians of Musa Dagh knew that they would not be returning from the “relocations,” despite all the official promises made for their safety. In fact, the Kurdish tribes which had been ignored by the Ottoman government possibly for the very purpose of carrying out massacres against the Armenians were indeed massacring tens of thousands of Armenians on the way to their supposed destinations in the deserts of Northern Syria. Another fact was that Armenian property was liquidated and auctioned off to other citizens of the Ottoman Empire, proof that they were not intended to return from their one-way trip. Not only that, but the Armenians who had been conscripted were worked to death in death camps following the implementation of the “relocation” acts. Gurun fails to mention anything about conscription of Armenian subjects of the Empire, only mentioning those who raided Ottoman supply lines or joined Russian forces, who were insignificant compared to the number of Armenians within either the Ottoman or Russian Armies, who numbered in the hundreds of thousands on both sides. When tabulating Armenian casualties during 1915 until the end of the war, Gurun also ignores the hundreds of thousands of Armenian conscripts who were killed indiscriminately, coming to a figure of 300,000 through dubious mathematics.

A major component of Gurun’s argument is the almost complete lack of documents pertaining to massacring Armenians. Though there is certainly enough evidence to deem the events of 1915-1918 as genocide, records of removal and destruction of Ottoman archives and other documents relating to the Armenian Genocide do exist from the transcripts of the trials in absentia of the Young Turk leaders following the conclusion of World War One. All Ottoman military ciphers were destroyed as well as any telegrams pertaining to the true nature of the Armenian deportations. These facts do not seem to matter to Gurun, who avoids the subject of the trials and glosses over the details.

Another important fact that Gurun does not touch upon in the Pan-Turkic nationalism rampant in the late Ottoman Empire as well as the Young Turk regime. Ziya Gokalp, a very popular and influential author of the time, was an ardent supporter of Pan-Turkism, which saw the Armenian people as being a blockage between Anatolian Turkey and Turkic peoples in Azerbaijan. Pan-Turkic ideology saw East-Anatolian Turkey as the heartland of Turkic civilization. This conflicted heavily with Armenian nationalist sentiments, and even partial autonomy of the Armenian millet was seen as treason toward the Ottoman state. 

Kamuran Gurun makes an effort to debunk the Armenian Genocide, but his sloppy scholarship and picking-and-choosing of information void all of his arguments. Not only does he bring up completely irrelevant Ancient, Classical, and Medieval Armenian history, but he attempts to revise it for the purpose of degrading Armenian identity to make Armenian pleas for autonomy within the Ottoman Empire seem ridiculous. His point in this matter are not only irrelevant, but also wrong, as he constantly misinterprets selections of ancient primary sources for the purpose of proving that Armenia was only an independent kingdom for a period of 30 years, 2000 years ago, which remains completely irrelevant to the topic at hand regardless of the accuracy of his arguments. These incorrect interpretations of history are further discredited by his constant errors in regards to spelling and numbering ancient rulers, which is a mark of lazy and incorrect scholarship. Gurun’s interpretations do not improve when he finally reaches the main point of discussion, the Armenian Genocide, as he picks and chooses his information and distorts the true nature of the events by ignoring facts that are detrimental to his case. All in all, Gurun’s work is reminiscent of Holocaust denial literature, and cannot be taken as the work of a serious scholar in any capacity.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Chalabian, Antranig. General Andranik and the Armenian Revolutionary Movement. USA: Antranig Chalabian, 1988.

 

Dadrian, Vahakn. The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Providence: Berghahn Books, 1995.

 

Dadrian, Vahakn. Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in Turkish Sources. Jerusalem: Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, 1991.

 

Dadrian, Vahakn. Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1999.

 

Gurun, Kamuran. The Armenian File: The Myth of Innocence Exposed. New York: St. Martin’s Press, Inc., 1985.

 

Herodotus. The Histories; Andrea Purvis, Translator, The Landmark Herodotus. New York: Pantheon Books, 2007.

 

Hovannisian, Richard. The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.

 

Melson, Robert. Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1992.

 

Ozanian, Andranik. General Andranik Speaks. Paris: ABAKA, 1921.

 

King of Pop – the MIchael Jackson Conspiracy Theory

Joan Piasta

Dr. Neaman

Historical Methods

9 December 2011

 

King of Pop or King of Conspiracy?

 

Contemporary American society has increasingly become fixated on cultural credos of distrust. Fevered millennial imaginations conjure litanies of paranoia towards satanic occult, alien infiltration, and mind-control. Conspiracy theorists are gaining popular momentum by sensationalizing pivotal moments in history, evidencing society’s escalating paranoia towards fears of apocalypse, epidemic, and world domination by totalitarian “secret societies.” In his book The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Richard Hofstadter states the accelerating influence of the American conspiracy movement and how theorists increasingly attribute, “‘vast’ or ’gigantic’ conspiracy as the motive force in historical events.”[1] This paranoia manifested after the publication of the Warren Commission in 1964 in that 87% of Americans believed that Kennedy’s assassination was accomplished by the lone gunman.[2] By 1993, 80% of Americans, including President Clinton, attributed the assassination to conspiracy.[3]

With the advent of the internet and the subsequent availability of alternative and unscholarly information, conspiracy theorists have been able to gain notoriety via blogs, web-pages, and videos. Today, the internet enables any individual to broadcast his or her conspiracy theory, and even accrue a following.  In all these ways, conspiracy theory is not only increasingly popular and influential in American culture, but pandemic. As more and more individuals surrender to distrusting mantras towards any person, corporation, or institution of eco-political power, a wide variety of hypotheses for tragic events earn the attention of conspiracy theorists. Specifically, due to the fusion of American culture’s propensity for conspiracy theories and extreme idolization of celebrities, it is no surprise that with every celebrity death there is a “higher power” to blame.  No conspiracy theory better divulges this growing paranoia more than the assumption that the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, was murdered by the Illuminati.

This essay will explore the dual conspiracy theory that establishes that Michael Jackson was murdered. First, I will express the theorists’ conviction that the Illuminati dominate the Hip-Hop Industry to both subliminally promote satanic worship and as a medium for social control. After discussing their paranoia of Hip-Hop as satanic ritual, I will then examine conspiracy theorists’ claim that Jackson opposed the Illuminati during his life. Once I have explored theorists’ evidence that Jackson battled the oppressive Illuminati while alive, I will then discuss how they attribute his untimely death to the nefarious cult. In doing so, I will specifically investigate theorists’ claims that Jackson was murdered and the motives they attribute to the killers. After I inspect these anonymous bloggers, their evidence and overall argument, I will demonstrate that most of these theorists’ convictions stem from a deep seeded paranoia of secret Satanic societies and their supposed plots for global domination. Ultimately, this essay will suggest that Christian fundamentalists burdened with their eschatological anxieties have pinpointed Michael Jackson as their messianic music artist, with a mission to “make [the world] a better place,” openly opposing the satanic Illuminati and their widely broadcasted demonic message in Hip-Hop music.

Illuminati and the Hip-Hop Industry

            In order to understand how conspiracy theories attribute responsibility for Jackson’s death to the Illuminati, I must first contextualize how conspiracy theorists purport the Illuminati’s connection to the Hip-Hop industry. Founded by Bavarian scholar Adam Weishaupt in 1776, the Illuminati is alleged as a secret organization that masterminds events and controls world affairs through governments and corporations to establish a New World Order.[4] Today’s Hip-Hop icons such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Beyonce and Lady Gaga have all been insinuated to be members of the Illuminati. Conspiracy theorists’ first evidence Illuminati in Hip Hop by referencing Flatboy Slim when he stated that the “Illuminati: a secret society does exist.”[5]  For conspiracy theorists, Tupac Shakur’s album Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, evidences that theses hip-hop moguls are indeed a part of the secret cult.[6]  Although many of these artists have denied such rumors, conspiracy theorists are adamant that these artists are satanic worshipers that promote and brag about their positions of power and control of the masses.

            Most blogs, YouTube videos, and WebPages “prove” membership in the secret society by referencing these artists’ constant subliminal use of satanic Masonic symbolism in music videos, lyrics and album covers. Lady Gaga, for instance, covers or circles one of her eyes in numerous of her music videos; theorists believe she is gesturing the Masonic symbol “the all seeing eye” and “eye of Lucifer” and, thus, signals her rank among the Illuminati. Rihanna in her video “Umbrella” covers herself in black paint and poses inside a triangle. Conspiracy theorists believe that Rihanna is reminiscing Baphomet. In Blog “3 popular Illuminati signs in the music industry,” the blogger states that “this large group is known as Illuminati and they are strategizing to rule the world.”[7] The blogger continues to state that these Masonic symbols— the “all seeing eye,” the lamb image of Baphomet, and the 666 hand— gestured by artists are “representations of worshipping Satan and mocking God.”[8] Thus, it is no surprise that when Beyonce donned a ring with a goat head with two horns at Coachella, she was accused of wearing the head of Baphomet, an image of Satan. As these conspiracy theorists argue and admonish listeners that these artists are puppets of the Illuminati who “worship the devil, they conspire to control and own the media, they purposefully manipulate people to think the way they want them to think.”[9] Moreover, these bloggers who believe the Illuminati run the Hip-Hop industry are fearful of growing Satanic worship, perhaps pointing to their Christian sentimentalities.

Conspiracy theories insist that the Illuminati manipulate the music industry to indoctrinate and corrupt the masses. One blogger on “Illuminati: Hip-Hop Industry” proclaims that, “The world has been given into the hands of the fallen angel called Lucifer.”[10]  Not only do these theorists believe that our society is corrupted, but that these satanic cults, “indoctrinate our society with a brand of new culture, a disposable one…a society that will receive the New World Order with open arms, to come to be exterminated by it.”[11] Here, conspiracy theorists begin to merge their theories into a belief that Illuminati broadcast their satanic worship to the masses through the Hip-Hop Industry, but also attribute are using the industry to achieve world domination. Another YouTube video on “ILLUMINATI, MUSIC INDUSTRY AND WHY MICHAEL JACKSON WAS KILLED PART 1” states that the Illuminati, “are manipulating everyone, they are dumbing down society and corrupting society…the more negativity that builds, the easier it is for them to lead us into a one world government.” One Blogger on “The Illuminati (NWO) Killed Michael Jackson,” writes the Illuminati promote violence, early sexuality, corruption, hate, racism and other satanic motives. And why are they doing that? Because it is much easier to control a corrupted society.”[12] Here, conspiracy theorists contend that the Illuminati are responsible for the further spiraling societal decay and immorality. Thus, blogs and YouTube videos crystallize how conspiracy theorists blame all ills of modern society on the Illuminati and their aims for global power.

Michael Jackson’s Career and Connection to Illuminati

Michael Jackson is still alive. The “King of Pop” was murdered by Jesuits. Jackson was a Manorexic. Jackson has been twittering and will return. Jackson was murdered for his catalogue. Jackson was killed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Jackson has been dead for years. Jackson met Jesus Before his death. Michael had dinner with Elvis.

As many music icons before him such as Marylyn Monroe and Elvis, Jackson’s life was perpetually plagued by tabloid rumors while his death was immediately linked to conspiracy and murder. Before I discuss the post-mortem accusations of Illuminati’s assassination of Jackson, I will first explore conspiracy theorists’ “evidence” that they used to tie Jackson to Illuminati while he was alive— namely, music videos and various television interviews.

One YouTube video “THE MUSIC INDUSTY EXPOSED” “proves” Michael’s connection to the Illuminati in his video “Beat It,” where he supposedly performs a satanic ritual in one of the dance segments. In the video, conspiracy theorists claim that Jackson performs the complete transformation into the devil as a black panther.  The next connection that theorists use to link Jackson to the Illuminati is his cover for his album “Dangerous.”  Theorists point out Illuminati symbolism on the cover; on the left side tunnel, roller coaster cars enter a tunnel with a Masonic symbol above the door.[13]  The cars, filled with different animals, come out the tunnel on the left side with the Illuminati “All-seeing Eye” above that door. In addition, the masonic symbol of the “One Eye” can be found and also the picture of a watery lake behind which laid burning flames. The cover also features a picture of a bald headed man, which theorists believe is known in the Illuminati occult as Alistair Crowley, a Freemason and author of “The New Law of Man” which stated that it would one day replace the Koran as the law of man. Overall, conspiracy theorists bind Jackson to the Illuminati due to Masonic symbolism found in his videos and album covers.

Conspiracy theorists believe that Jackson’s positive song messages, limitless fame and black skin resulted in the Illuminati’s sabotage of his public image, including his physical appearance. However, conspiracy theorists point to Jackson’s video “They Don’t Really Care About Us” to demonstrate that Michael was protesting the oppressive Illuminati. During the music video, Jackson violently dances and sings in front of a wall that theorists claim is covered with the graffiti resembling the “all seeing eye.” Conspiracy theorists edit and emphasize the scene where Jackson sings his third stanza:

                                                               “Beat me, hate me

You can never break me

Will me, thrill me

You can never kill me”[14]

 

For conspiracy theorists, Jackson purposefully sings militantly in from of the “all seeing eye” in protest to the Illuminati. Jackson song continues:

                                                                  Jew me, sue me                          

Everybody due me,

Kick me, Kike me

Don’t you black or white me[15]

These lyrics suffice as proof for conspiracy theorists that the Illuminati were trying to destroy Jackson’s image by turning him white and harm his public image. Conspiracy theorists claim that the Illuminati were especially threatened by Jackson because of his overwhelming influence as a black male, leading us to the theorists’ next accusation that the Illuminati also killed Michael because of their inherent racism.

Even thought Jackson announced to the world in a 1993 interview with Oprah that he suffered of genetic vitiligo, theorists are convinced that his white transformation was due to Illuminati foul play.[16] One video says “Illuminati Treat blacks as inhuman” and that the illuminati could not handle “a black person to be kind of pop.”[17] Conspiracy theorists believe Jackson was secretly trying to convey that the Illuminati turned his skin white during his 1993 Oprah interview when he defends his lyrics against anti-Semitism, stating, “I talk about myself as the victim.”[18] Regardless of whether Jackson believed his skin condition was hereditary or brought on by the Illuminati, he did believe in a conspiracy within the music industry.

Conspiracy theorists in their blogs and YouTube videos constantly utilize Jackson’s 2002 speech as “primary evidence” that he was fighting Illuminati conspiracy. During the early 1990s, Jackson started to speak out against music producers for racism and obstruction of African-American music artists’ success.  At the Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem, New York, Jackson gave a speech for the rights of black music artists. He claimed, “The recording companies really, really do conspire against the artists…They steal, they cheat, they do everything they can, especially [against] the black artists.”[19] In YouTube videos, conspiracy theorists specifically reference an edited stream of Jackson’s speech. Their selections follow:

They are liars. All the forms of popular music from Jazz, Hip-Hop, to Bebop to soul… and different dances from the cakewalk, to the jitterbug, to the Charleston, to break dancing, all these are forms of black dancing. When you go to the bookstore on the corner, all the album covers are white…  You gotta remember something—the minute I started breaking all-time record in records sales—I broke Elvis’s records, I broke Beatles records…overnight they called me a freak, a homosexual, they called me a child molester, they said I bleached my skin. They did everything to turn the public against me. And this is all complete, complete conspiracy. [20]

 

Conspiracy videos point to this speech as a fundamental moment that “pissed Illuminati off.”[21] Michael is speaking up for black rights and even mentioning the tabooed word “conspiracy.” Videos then emphasize another interview on “60 Minutes” with CBS’s Ed Bradley after Jackson’s arrest under child molestation charges in 2007.  When Bradley asks Jackson about the ramification of the scandal on his music career, Jackson defensively responds:

MICHAEL JACKSON: — album is number one all over the world. All over the world. America is the only one, because I — I don’t wanna say too much. I’m don’t, I don’t want to say too much.

ED BRADLEY: But it’s not number one in the United States?

MICHAEL JACKSON: It’s a conspiracy. Yeah. I can’t say any more, but it’s conspiracy.  [22]

Here, conspiracy theorists deduce from Jackson’s responses that he has been specifically sabotaged by the Illuminati, particularly in the United States since that is the only place in the world where his records were not ranked #1.

Ultimately, conspiracy theorists do not have to stretch too far to connect Jackson to conspiracy, because Jackson spoke out against conspiracy in interviews and conferences throughout his career. Conspiracy theorists immediately forge Jackson’s allegations of conspiracy to the Illuminati because of purported masonic symbolism in his music videos.

His Death: What Happened?

On June 25, 2009 in a rental mansion in Hombly Hills neighborhood, the “King of Pop” was found in his bedroom not breathing by his personal physician Conrad Murray. After 911 was called and paramedics performed CPR for 42 minutes, paramedics pronounced Jackson dead at 2.26 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.[23] Jackson’s autopsy revealed that a concoction of prescription drugs in his body, most significant of which was the profpofol and the loresapam.[24] On August 28, 2009, the Los Angeles Country Coroner ruled Jackson’s death a homicide by “acute propofol intoxication”[25] in combination with an array of other drugs.

 Jackson’s death triggered an overwhelmingly unprecedented response around the globe. Twitter crashed, as did Wikipedia at 3:15 p.m. the day of Jackson’s death;[26] 5,000 tweets per minute, or around 15% of Twitter posts, mentioned Jackson’s death.[27]  AOL Instant Messenger called the day “a seminal moment in Internet history…in terms of scope or depth,”[28] as their engine went down for a total of 40 minutes. America’s three major networks’ evening forecasts devoted 34% of their airtime to coverage on Jackson’s death.[29] News stations around the globe were criticized for excessive coverage of Jackson’s death and neglecting world news such as the Iranian elections or flu pandemic.

The unprecedented global coverage of Jackson’s death can be attributed to the prevalence of technology and internet community; had Elvis died in 2009, he might have generated an even larger response. Most importantly, the overwhelming attention Jackson’s demise accumulated due to the internet points out how conspiracy theorists can gain attention by broadcasting their arguments via internet media. When Jackson died in June 2009, YouTube videos were assembled in less than a month, appearing in July 2009 and blaming Illuminati for Michael’s death. Immediately, Jackson’s death generated speculation that music industry enemies nefariously plotted the icon’s murder. Therefore, conspiracy theorists claim “of course the Illuminati killed Michael Jackson.”[30] Not only at the moment of Jackson’s death were there conspiracy theorists that immediately forged their thesis—Michael Jackson was murdered by the Illuminati—but they scoured through his videos, interviews and albums to unearth any evidence that “obviously proves he was murdered.”[31]

But what evidence do these conspiracy theorists use to establish the Illuminati’s motives for killing Jackson? Jackson has reaped notoriety for his crotch-grabbing dance moves and public scandals such as his molestation trials. However, conspiracy theorists, who are obviously loyal Jackson fans, disregarded Jackson’s long history of media scandal, such as two highly publicized sexual molestation trials, to speak out against his murder and the Illuminati. In this way, they champion Jackson as their pseudo-messiah of the music industry who spread benign messages about humanity and “heal the world.” For these theorists, “of course” the Illuminati wanted to silence Jackson for opposing their Satanic messages. One blogger writes, “Clearly, Michael oppose to their plans, he wants the world to be a better place and they saw him as a big threat in front of them and when they couldn’t ruin his image and turn fans against him they killed him.”[32] This blogger reveals that conspiracy theorists believe that Jackson fought the Illuminati and “their plans.” Another YouTube video named “Michael Jackson Warns of 2012 Illuminati Conspiracy, proclaims that the Illuminati’s main objective for Jackson’s death was to silence him before he spoke out on the society’s plans for global depopulation in 2012. [33] However, the most prominent source used as evidence for Jackson’s murder is his sister La Toya’s reaction to her brother’s death.

Immediately after Jackson’s death, his sister 55 year old sister La Toya Jackson crusaded to unmask the “conspiracy” behind his untimely end. La Toya has fueled conspiracy theorists by blatantly stating, whenever and in whatever venue she can, that Michael was murdered. Speaking to Cindy Adams from the New York Post, La Toya asserts, “I believe it was a conspiracy. Michael told me repeatedly, ‘They’re going to murder me…They’re trying to murder me.”[34] She continues to state that Michael’s physician, “Dr. Murray was the fall guy. Authorities should look into this more deeply…Look, I’m not accusing nobody. I’m just putting out what I know. I was in his bedroom after it happened.”[35] La Toya has reignited conspiracy theorists’ flames with her insinuations that Jackson was murdered, Dr. Murray was a pawn exploited by higher players, and that certain parties had money to gain from Jackson’s death.

Of course, conspiracy theorists immediately utilize La Toya’s statements as proof that Jackson was murdered by the Illuminati. In addition to claiming that the conspirators behind Jackson’s death ransacked his room, La Toya argues that Dr. Murray was an Illuminati executioner. La Toya insists that “Dr. Murray is a very small piece of the puzzle.”[36] La Toya fervently claims that, “Michael told me repeatedly that they were going to kill him and that he was going to die.”[37]  In addition, La Toya claims that Michael’s, “room had been ransacked…He had the world’s largest catalogue- 750,000 songs…He’d say ‘They’re after it…you’ve got to listen to me.’”[38] La Toya’s assertion that Michael’s room was ransacked is used as absolute evidence to confirm the Illuminati killed Jackson; a YouTube video called “THE MUSIC INDUSTRY EXPOSED – Why the Illuminati killed Michael Jackson” contends, “Michael Jackson knew they were trying to kill him. Investigations revealed that Michael had injured his knees and had fresh bruises, indicating that he fell over before his death. It seems quite obvious that Michael was fighting for his life.”[39] Most of all, La Toya directly addresses a conspiracy and that Michael was murdered for reasons beyond Dr. Murray’s involuntary manslaughter. Thus, conspiracy theorists infuse La Toya’s assertions that the room was ransacked and that Michael’s autopsy report that Michael fought for his life.

Where does Dr. Conrad Murray Fit in the Illuminati Conspiracy Theory?

            La Toya’s accusations bring up to the recent trial of Dr. Murray who was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter. Authorities say that Jackson was given a lethal dose of propofol and other sedatives. Murray’s defense attorneys attested to Jackson’s extreme addiction to propofol as he was an insomniac and called the drug “his milk.”[40] Defense attorneys admitted that Jackson perhaps injected himself with the lethal does after Murray left the room. Here’s where it get’s “iffy.” Prosecutors used expert medical testimony to highlight that propofol is a drug that is only to be used in a highly monitored, equipped hospital setting. Not only did Murray use propofol “in house,” but he also lacked the proper monitoring equipment.  On June 28th 2009, three days after Jackson’s death, Ed Chernoff, Murray’s defense attorney, admitted that Murray did not call 911 for 30 minutes after he found Jackson unresponsive.[41] Statements revealed that Murray performed CPR on Jackson, but not in standard medical practice, using the technique on his bed, and not on a hard surface. Thus, Murray crucified his defense by his medical negligence for leaving the room after administering propofol, not calling 911 for 30 minutes after he found Jackson in full cardiac arrest, and performing non-standard CPR.[42]

Despite Murray’s justification for his medical practices with Jackson, his medical negligence was enough to ignite La Toya and conspiracy theorists that Dr. Murray was an Illuminati pawn in Michael’s murder. One blogger asks, “Why would Dr. Murray leave the room…not call 911 for 30 minutes…. it was the Illuminati.”[43] Regardless, Dr. Conrad Murray, whether or not following the orders of Illuminati, was tried for and convicted of involuntary manslaughter and perhaps did accelerate the death of the King of Pop.

In the wake of Jackson’s death, theorists have collected all “evidence” during and after Jackson’s life to prove their presupposed thesis: MJ was murdered by the Illuminati. All of this evidence is employed by theorists to prove “why” Jackson was murdered.  One WebPage called “Michael was Murdered,” writes, “For some years back Michael Jackson had become very outspoken when it came to the injustices of the music industry towards their artists.”[44] The WebPage continues, “There was a conspiracy to destroy his image, ever since he broke all of the Beatles and Elvis record…media immediately turned on him.”[45]  Theorists attempt to “obviously” and “clearly” prove that Jackson, during his life, showed how he felt about the Illuminati and the control they had over him. Most astoundingly, conspiracy theorists claim that Jackson was exterminated in a ritualistic manner to Illuminati god, Baphomet, because he was going to unearth the society’s plans for 2012. These theorists believe that in his final “This is It” tour, “[Jackson] was going to spill the beans on everything he knew, being that the last chance (i.e. This is It).”[46] The YouTube video “ILLUMINATI, MUSIC INDUSTRY AND WHY MICHAEL JACKSON WAS KILLED” concludes by showing footage of a ghost captured at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, stating, “obviously Michael Jackson’s ghost is coming back to tell us the truth for those who are murdered do not rest.”[47] For all these motives, the conspiracy theorists insist the Illuminati killed Michael because they not only wanted control of the Hip-Hop Industry and Jackson, but to further their plans for global control.

Analysis of Conspirators Argument and Evidence

Michael Jackson’s fame, fortune, and oddities have always fueled media with limitless suspicion and rumors; his death exacerbated these suspicions and rumors. As with any unexpected death of a celebrity, individuals develop theories that insist there is always ulterior driving force behind the scenes.

Although these conspiracy theories are compelling as none of us could dare believe the King of Pop perished at 50 without a sensational organization and plot responsible for the death.  However, these theorists’ arguments are severely flawed, farfetched and unconvincing.  Michael Sherman and Alex Groban, authors of Denying History and the Holocaust, discuss Ted Goertzel’s stereotypes of conspiracy theorists. In the case of Michael Jacksons’ death by Illuminati, Goertzel would classify these theorists as Hawkisk-Protestors. Geortzel explains that Hawk “which seeks strength and security as defense against outside threats” and the Protester, “which seeks to defend the powerless and oppressed from exploitation by elites.”[48] As Hawkish-Protestors, these conspiracy theorists try to find strength and security by drawing an arbitrary line between the Illuminati’s proliferations of Satanic ritualism in the music industry. They are protestors by trying to empower readers and viewers to stand up against the devil of Hip-Hop in face of the prophesized apocalypse.

From the YouTube videos, blogs and WebPages these conspiracy theorists utilize to spread the “truth” about Michael’s murder, one can begin to deduce something about these anonymous Hawkish-Protestors. First, these conspiracy theorists consider themselves Jackson’s most loyal and enduring fans, even in face of the threatening Illuminati. In addition, all the sources examined in this essay interweave their arguments with Biblical scripture, not of apocalyptic prophesy, but to battle the satanic art of the music industry.  As a result of the dearth of logical structure in both incorporating Biblical arguments and accusations against the Illuminati’s murder of Jackson, one can deduce that these theorists are perhaps fundamental Christians who are responding the rise of provocation in the music industry.  Indeed, these religious believers are both paranoid about the corruption of society and the end of the world.

Within these arguments, one can witness the clash between the rise of radical Christianity and the popularity of provocative music artists in contemporary American culture. As discussed earlier in the paper, conspiracy theorists point out Illuminati symbolism in music artists’ performances, videos and album work, and claim these occurrences are devil worship. All of these music artists, such as Lady Gaga and Rihanna, generate a following by their competition to out-provoke society, thwarting modesty by selling images of sex, drugs and societal revolt. As the common cliché states, “sex sells” and provocation sells. Not only have these artists been threatening to religious groups who condemn such art, but their art has been characterized  by them as “satanic worship.” It is quite noticeable that all these blogs express a heightened paranoia that the Illuminati are spreading devil worship. From each blog and YouTube, conspiracy theorists reference the Bible, not to point to apocalyptic predictions, but to battle the evidence they have of satanic ritual in Hip-Hop. However, these blogs and videos do imply an eschatological fear of the end of the world for Jackson was going to “spill the beans” on 2012.

In addition to the Christian paranoia towards Hip-Hop as satanic ritualism, the conspiracy theorists’ argument that the Illuminati dominate the Hip-Hop industry is equally unconvincing. The Illuminati’s drive for a New World Order has kept Americans paranoid since the 1800s. These particular theorists are so threatened by the Illuminati that they will selectively chose Jackson’s statements, as seen in his 2002 Harlem speech, to indicate that he was scared too.

Yes, numerous symbols in popular music artists’ work today don Illuminati symbolism such as the “all seeing eye” and the lamb of Baphomet. However, many times conspiracy theorists derive significance from symbols such as “triangles” and other common shapes and giving them meaning within the context of the conspiracy they seek to unmask. Regardless of their affect or influence in contemporary society, cultures will always be suspicious of the work and unknown effects of secret societies. But in relationship to Jackson’s murder, the claim that the Illuminati are responsible holds no evidentiary sway. Perhaps Jackson’s death was premeditated, but theorists immediately blame the Illuminati by connecting all suspects as the society’s members.

Michael Jackson did indeed speak publically about conspiracy in the music industry. The YouTube videos and WebPages that cut-and-copy these speeches in a specific sequence to imply he was murdered by the Illuminati unravel when you read the entire transcripts of his speeches. His Harlem Speech in 2002, when read fully, Jackson is obviously contesting for the rights of African-American music artists. In no way is he saying that the Illuminati turned his skin white, or that people were out to kill him, but he attests to the conspiracy he believes is behind the lack of representation of black artists’ rights. In addition, Jackson in his interview with Ed Bradley did seem hyper-paranoid about conspiracy and how he could not speak about it, however, when one looks at Michael and  his bizarre and sometimes erratic public behavior, it would not be surprising that he believed the whole world was out to kill him. Yes, Jackson was extremely influential, however he had engulfed his net worth in 3.5 million dollars of debt and was noted by various doctors for considerable decade-long drug addictions.[49] Some other sources believe Jackson was both heavily relying on drugs as he was flustered for his upcoming “This Is It” tour in 2010.[50]

Ultimately, the YouTube videos, blogs, and WebPages only have three montages of “evidence” where Michael could be construed as saying he had enemies in the music industry. Theorists only have two examples of where they can directly cite Masonic symbolism in his art work—namely, his “Dangerous” album cover and “They Don’t Care About Us” music video. The rest of conspiracy theorists’ “evidence” is their own interpretation of the Hip-Hop artwork; they believe Jackson sang about healing the world, while all other artists in the music industry engaged in satanic dances that promote sex, money and drugs as social control. Most of all, these theorists edit footage and derive meaning based on already established theses. They set out to prove a preconceived thesis, not examine holistic evidence before they forge their arguments. They edit footage and take Jackson’s statements out of context to enhance their ‘arguments’.  

The most glaring flaw in these arguments is the fact that all these theorists have a presupposed thesis and a presupposed enemy; they set out to prove their argument by finding evidence to support their prior claims. Sherman and Grobman call this the “confirmation bias’ or the tendency to seek confirmatory evidence and reject disconfirming evidence.”[51] We see in the videos, blogs and articles that theorists set forth to prove the Michael Jackson was murdered by Illuminati, and draw far-reaching connections in attempt to give the claim weight. Their ultimate evidence is the Bible they use to fight the immoralities broadcasted by the Music industry. However, these bloggers refuse any counter arguments as Illuminati indoctrination, and justify their views with the Bible which they already accept as absolute truth.  In addition, any critical reader must be weary when arguers make leaping assumptions that “obviously” or “clearly” prove so-and-so.  An example of a blatant assumption is Michael’s interview on CBS “60 Minutes,” where in the wide context of the interview, Michael is responding to the effects of molestation charges on his career. Bloggers, videos and WebPages, instead, cut the scene where Michael mentions conspiracy, and titles the video, “Michael Speaks Out Against Illuminati.” First, Michael never mentions the Illuminati. Second, Michael is responding to the lack of success of his album due to the media controversy. Here, theorists interweave assumptions to “obviously” illustrate their thesis.   

On a more snobbish note, these arguments are difficult to regard as credible, especially since their essays, which attempt to be scholarly, are fogged with grammatical and punctuation errors. In addition, when these videos use two minute scenes from “Lara Croft Tomb Raider,” a mediocre action-adventure about a voluptuous archeologist, to show how threatening the Illuminati are today, their arguments crumble. Regardless of the justified criticism of these arguments, the fact that these videos all have over two million hits each attest to the growing reception of such conspiracy theories. These stark numbers speak to the influence of these blogs and videos, but more importantly, to the need for public awareness in the face of publicized false information.

Moreover, modern American society is ripe with paranoia, distrust and anxiety about unexpected events, such as the untimely death of Michael Jackson. Conspiracy theorists direct their distrust at the Illuminati and claim any powerful organization is among its ranks. The theorists’ insistence on condemning the music industry’s satanic worship as the work of organizations, individuals and institutions of economic and political power perhaps illustrates people’s growing feeling of marginalization and helplessness in the face of governments and conglomerates. Today those that “have” money and power come under the magnifying glass of conspiracy theorists who will find any “evidence” to reveal that power comes at a diminutive price. In conjunction with the rise of radical Christianity and celebrity occultism, it is not surprising that Christians feel threatened by the music industry’s satanic worship and plans for 2012, and believe they are bringing about an apocalypse and one-world totalitarian government. Not only does the Michael Jackson murder by Illuminati theory speak to the limitless suspicion of society, but that these conspiracy theories are gaining wide attention on the internet, even when they lack sufficient evidence. Despite the outlandish argument styles of these theorists, viewers who do not question the sources of an arguer’s evidence are subject to believing these paranoid beliefs. Along with the infusions of grammatical errors, clips of “Lara Croft Tomb Raider” to evidence the existence of Illuminati, and their subjective argumentation that seeks to prove a thesis by snapshot evidence, these conspiracy theorists discredit their arguments and remain unconvincing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dangerous” Album Cover

 

Michael Jackson in “They Don’t Really Care About Us”- in front of “all seeing eye”

 

 


[1] Richard Hofstader, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, (Chicago: Vintage Books, 2008), 14-18.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Michael Barkun,  A Culture of Conspiracy, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 45.

[5] “Illuminati: Hip-Hop Industry,” TheDoggStar.com, 4 June 2010,  http://www.thedoggstar.com/articles/illuminati-hip-hop-industry/ (Accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[6] “The Illuminati Hip-Hop Timeline,” XXLMAG.com, 11 Feb. 2011, http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2011/02/the-illuminati-hip-hop-timeline/ (accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[7]“3 Popular Illuminati Signs in the Music Industry,” Illuminatisigns.org. 11 Nov, 2011, http://illuminatisigns.org/3-popular-illuminati-signs-in-the-music-industry/  (accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[8] ILLUMINATI, MUSIC INDUSTRY AND WHY MICHAEL JACKSON WAS KILLED PART 2, YouTube.com, 14 July, 2009 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltb6wkaNCYQ (accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[9] Ibid.

[10] “Illuminati: Hip-Hop Industry.” TheDoggStar.com, 26 Oct. 2010, http://www.thedoggstar.com/articles/illuminati-hip-hop-industry/ (accessed 10 Nov. 2011).

[11]  Ibid.

[12] “The Illuminati (NWO) Killed Michael Jackson,” MichaelJackson.ae, 11 Nov. 2009,  http://michaeljackson.ae/showthread.php?74-The-Illuminati-(NWO)-Killed-Michael-Jackson (accessed 10 Nov. 2011).

[13] For image of the “Dangerous” album cover, refer to picture #1.

[14] Michael Jackson, “Beat It,” Thriller, 1984.

[15] Ibid.

[16] “Video: Oprah’s 1993 Michael Jackson Interview,” The New York Post, 29 June 2009, http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/tvblog/item_pMTo4plF6SszK0ZQQiGngO (accessed 12 Nov. 2011).

[17] ILLUMINATI, MUSIC INDUSTRY AND WHY MICHAEL JACKSON WAS KILLED (PART 1), YouTube.com, 11 July 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJi2HaJf1VI (accessed 2 Nov. 2011).

[18] “Jackson Speaks Out Against Racism,” Heeheeshamone.com, 6 July 2002, http://www.heeheeshamone.com/archives/40 (accessed 10 Nov. 2011)

[19] Ibid.

[20] “ILLUMINATI, MUSIC INDUSTRY AND WHY MICHAEL JACKSON WAS KILLED (PART 1),” YouTube.com, 11 July 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJi2HaJf1VI (accessed 2 Nov. 2011).

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ellen Crean, “Jackson Interview Transcript,” CBSnews.com, 5 March 2009, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/28/60minutes/main590381.shtml (accessed 12 Nov. 2011).

[24] Ibid.

[25] “Conrad Murray,” The New York Times, 29 Nov 2011, http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/m/conrad_murray/index.html (accessed 19 Nov. 2011).

[26] “The Death of Michael Jackson” Wikepdia.com,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Michael_Jackson (Accessed 13 Nov. 2011).

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] “The Illuminati (NWO) Killed Michael Jackson,” MichaelJackson.ae, 11 Nov. 2009,  http://michaeljackson.ae/showthread.php?74-The-Illuminati-(NWO)-Killed-Michael-Jackson (accessed 10 Nov. 2011).

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[34] “La Toya Jackson Believes Michael’s Death Was a Conspiracy”, celebritybuzz.com, 20 June 2011. http://blog.chron.com/celebritybuzz/2011/06/la-toya-jackson-believes-michaels-death-was-a-conspiracy/ (accessed 9 Nov. 2011).

[35] John Stevens, “This is a BIG CONSPIRACY,” dailymail.co.uk, 11 Nov 2011 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/usshowbiz/article-2042867/Michael-Jackson-death-trial-La-Toya (Accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] La Toya references Michael’s ownership of 50% of Sony. Conspiracy theorists claim that Sony, a well known Illuminati run corporation, wanted to exterminate Michael to “shut him up” and fully own the publishing company.

[39] “THE MUSIC INDUSTRY EXPOSED – Why the Illuminati killed Michael Jackson (Part 9/11),” Youtube.com, 30 May 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6znfH43kHsk (accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[40] “Michael Jackson death trial,” The Guardian. 7 Oct. 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/07/michael-jackson-doctor-police-interview (accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[41] Richard Espoto, “Michael Jackson autopsy Results Tighten Net Around Dr. Conrad Murray,” 28 July 2009, ABCnew.go.com, http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/MichaelJackson/story?id=8189481&page=1 (accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[42] Ibid.

[43] “The Illuminati (NWO) Killed Michael Jackson,” MichaelJackson.ae, 11 Nov. 2009,  http://michaeljackson.ae/showthread.php?74-The-Illuminati-(NWO)-Killed-Michael-Jackson (accessed 10 Nov. 2011).

[44] Michael was Murdered, doggstar.com, http://www.thedoggstar.com/articles/michael-jackson-illuminati/michael-was-murdered/ (accessed 12 Nov. 2011).

[45] Ibid.

[46] ILLUMINATI, MUSIC INDUSTRY AND WHY MICHAEL JACKSON WAS KILLED (PART 2), YouTube.com, 17 July 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW43Mig1LYE  (accessed 11 Nov. 2011).

[47] Ibid.

[48] Michael Sherman and Alex Grobman, Denying History, (Berkeley: University of California, 2000), 143.

[49] Davis, Matthew, “Michael Jackson health concerns,” BBC.com, 6 June 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4612897.stm (accessed 8 Nov. 2011).

[50] Ibid.

[51] Michael Sherman and Alex Grobman, Denying History, (Berkeley: University of California, 2000), 143.

What Really Happened in Nanking: An Analysis of Tanaka Masaaki’s Denial of the Nanking Massacre

What Really Happened in Nanking: An Analysis of Tanaka Masaaki’s Denial of the Nanking Massacre

            It is possible that the Chinese derive such pleasure from [incestuous sexual] assaults, but that is    certainly not true of the Japanese, who have never found such acts amusing[1].

            -What Really Happened in Nanking?

 

During World War Two, countless unspeakable tragedies and crimes against humanity took place—the Holocaust, the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the utter destruction of much of Japan, the firebombing of Dresden, and the Rape of Nanking.  Some events, such as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were so huge and took place on such a large scale that their occurrence was never questioned.  Some tragedies, such as the Holocaust and the Nanking Massacre, were more hidden from the rest of the world—evidence and witnesses were destroyed, and information was slow to reach the rest of the world.  As with the Holocaust, the Nanking Massacre is a controversial topic that many people deny ever even occurred.

One of the more famous and controversial revisionist histories  of the Nanking Massacre was written by Tanaka Masaaki, What Really Happened In Nanking: The Refutation of a Common Myth.  Tanaka Masaaki began refuting the official interpretation of the Nanking Massacre in 1952, 6 years after he was drafted into the Japanese Army and served as a cryptographer[2]What Really Happened in Nanking is his approximately tenth book, and he claims that it is the summation of his life’s work on the topic.

His argument is moderately thorough in scope, although many of his arguments are short and need more elaboration.  His approximately a dozen arguments (leaving out many which overlap) include portrayal of the Japanese Army as highly ethical and incapable of a massacre, refuting population records, refuting the existence of corpses, attempting to highlight the lack of media attention (and protest) in China and the West, attempting to deny witness testimony, and arguing the validity of many photographs used as evidence.

On page 39, Masaaki goes into details about Japanese funerary procedures for fallen Chinese soldiers.  He notes the used of the bushido code of conduct for soldiers, and alleges that the funeral practices are evidence of an unwavering compliance with bushido, specifically asking “could soldiers and commanders of this caliber have participated in or even condoned the indiscriminate killing of innocent women and children?”[3]

Masaaki claims with absolute confidence that the population of Nanking at the end of 1937 was between 120,000 and 200,000 people, and notes that the claims of 300,000 murdered Chinese people are physically impossible due to the population of the city.  As Masaaki colorfully states, “even if the Japanese had murdered every[one], they could not have killed more than 160,000-250,000 Chinese.  To massacre 300,000 persons, they would have had to kill many of them twice”[4].

Masaaki references several people, including journalists, photographers, and Sakamoto Chikashi, commander of the 2nd Battalion, who claim they never saw any corpses, civilian or otherwise[5].  First Lt. Tsuchiya Shoji toured Nanking on December 13th, 1937 and noted the quiet and calm of the city, and left without seeing a corpse[6].  10th Army staff officer Tanida Isamu, on December 14th, 1937, saw “approximately 1,000 bodies…believed to be chose of Chinese soldiers killed in action on December 13th”[7].  Masaaki sums up his research on various eyewitnesses who claim to have seen nothing by saying that “no member of the Japanese military, no Japanese newspaper reporter, none of the 15 members of the International Committee, none of the five foreign reporters on assignment in Nanking, no foreign national saw scenes remotely resembling those described by Chinese witnesses”[8].

To show that the Chinese were ignorant of any wrongdoing by the Japanese in the city of Nanking, Masaaki cites a book called Chinese Military Affairs During Wartime, and notes that the book does not mention anything that could be construed as a massacre taking place during the time when it allegedly did.  He also cites an American Comintern member who travelled with Mao Zedong, Zhu De, and Zhou Enlai and wrote about the fall of Nanking—however, her book contains no mention of a massacre[9].

One of Masaaki’s longest and most in-depth arguments centers around a lack of publicity of the massacre in the British and American media.  Makes several claims about journalism during the war– that there were only two journalists who wrote about the massacre during the war (Harold Timperley and F. Tillman Durdin), that there existed a lack of editorials in newspapers around the world condemning the massacre, and that a group of 15 journalists was brought to the sites of the massacre and failed to find any evidence of mass murder.[10]  Masaaki specifically notes that Time magazine ran a story congratulating the Chinese on a victory against the Japanese, but failed to print anything about massacre taking place in China[11].

In chapter 13 Masaaki argues that there were no protests from any western nation (specifically, United States, Great Britain or France) about the Nanking Massacre.  He notes that these three nations lodged an international protest against Japan for “indiscriminate aerial bombing during the assault on Nanking”.[12]  Masaaki himself notes that through these aerial attacks, 600 Chinese civilians were needlessly killed.

Chapter 16 of Masaaki’s book is titled “A Massacre With No Witnesses,” a strong title for the stronger claim that the chapter focuses around.  He claims that 120 Japanese journalists who were in Nanking reported no massacre, and gives several specific examples of reporters and military officeres who were in Nanking who saw no evidence of a massacre.  The second part of the chapter notes many Japanese soldiers who also claim they saw no evidence of a massacre in Nanking.  The last part of the chapter is testimony from Masaaki himself, a description of what he saw (and more importantly, didn’t see) during his time in late 1938 in Nanking.  He writes from his own experience that he saw no dead bodies, and the damage to buildings and to the town was much less than he expected to see.

Masaaki’s final argument focuses around ten pictures that Iris Chang used in her book The Rape of Nanking.  These various photographs include pictures of heads, piles of dead bodies, Japanese soldiers and funerary proceedings.  Masaaki claims that these photographs were either doctored (he notes the use and misuse of shadows in one particular photograph) and also claims that some of the photos were used out of context (for example, he claims one photograph is actually of executed Chinese bandits, instead of Chinese soldiers executed by the Japanese army[13].  He acknowledges one photograph is indeed a photograph of hundreds of bodies washed up on the shore of a river, but claims that these bodies were those of the Chinese army, who were killed in action with proper respect to international law.

Although Masaaki refutes almost every type of evidence that was used to prove the Nanking Massacre happened in the first place, a preponderance of the evidence is useful in determining whether Masaaki’s methods and conclusions are correct.

Masaaki’s note that the Japanese soldiers followed the bushido code and were thus unable to participate in anything like a massacre is easily overthrown.  Claiming that someone applies to a particular philosophy or believes a certain dogma has no bearing on whether or not they do or do not take certain actions—for example, many Nazis were Christians, yet one of the Ten Commandments is “thou shall not murder.”  It is clear that Masaaki loves and takes great pride in his country; however, it is very misleading to argue that simply because the army had a code of conduct (as do almost every army in existence) that they could and would not take inappropriate action in a foreign country.

The same is true of the funeral practices.  Whether or not the Japanese army held funerals for the fallen Chinese soldiers has no bearing on whether or not they massacred other Chinese civilians.  Here Masaaki uses a classic red herring—by highlighting appropriate actions that the Japanese army took, he is attempting to wash over an entirely different issue.  The argument about the Nanking Massacre is whether or not the Japanese army raped and murdered Chinese civilians, not what was done with the corpses afterwards.

As for the population record, Masaaki’s claim is factually correct.  There were indeed only around 200,000 people in the Safety Zone.  However, he refutes Iris Chang’s claim that there were 200,000-300,000 people who were outside the safety zone at the time—many of whom were killed by the Japanese (Chang claims there were a few hundred thousand people outside of the Safety Zone, either in the countryside or in the Nanking Municipal Zone).  Iris Chang’s claim that the Nanking Massacre was more deadly that the Holocaust is obviously untrue; the truth of the actual number of people killed, although we may never know with 100% certainty, lies somewhere between Masaaki’s estimate of approximately zero and Chang’s estimate of “more than the Holocaust”.  However,  the entire point of the Safety Zone was a place where people would be safe.  John Rabe is generally credited with saving the lives of a few hundred thousand people because of the Safety Zone.  It is the areas outside of the Safety Zone, the other areas of the city and the rural countryside outside the city, where most of the killing and rape took place.  No one is claiming that the Japanese Army murdered the 200,000 people in the Safety Zone; in fact, this is the exact opposite of what most scholars argue, and most survivors claim.

Joshua A. Fogel, author of The Nanking Massacre in History and Historiography[14] makes the valid and apt argument that one should not be bogged down in arguments about the numbers—that the numbers will become numbers whose meaning have been lost in the debate—and that, like the number of victims in the Holocaust, historians and revisionists will never stop debating them.  The important point is that the massacre did happen; that widespread rape happened, and that the killings, rapes, beatings and burnings did happen on a large scale, not just isolated incidents.

The people who Masaaki cites as eyewitnesses also represent a problem.  He seems to call only upon Japanese witnesses who say that they never saw any bodies—obviously not the most reliable witnesses and certainly not convincing when he relies only upon them.  As we have seen with the Holocaust, the Germans denied that any gas chambers or any incinerators existed.  In addition, almost all of the witness testimony that Masaaki cites come from the days immediately following the Japanese occupation of Nanking.  This is clearly cherry-picking which eyewitness testimony he wants to use in his argument—there are likely to be few piles of dead bodies and widespread rape on the very same day that the Japanese invaded.  The murder and rapes took place over a period of weeks, not immediately on December 13th.

One important source we have for first-hand testimony is the American missionaries who were in Nanking at the time.  The collection Eyewitnesses to Massacre: American Missionaries Bear Witness to Japanese Atrocities in Japan[15] contains letter after letter, document after document of American missionaries who were in Nanking when the events took place.  Many of these are not even letters to anyone in authority; they are simply the writings and diaries of people there (one was a letter to his wife).  Although the United States and Japan were enemies in the war, the fact that most of these letters were personal and not meant to be published indicates that it is very unlikely that they were fabricated stories.

The aforementioned book that Masaaki cites, Chinese Military Affairs During Wartime, is easy to spot as being improperly used.  One of the main realities of the Nanking Massacre was that the Chinese Army retreated and ran away from Nanking; to state that an account of the Chinese Army is lacking reports of the Nanking Massacre is ludicrous.  The point Masaaki makes about Agnes Smedley, the American expatriate who wrote Battle Hymn of China, is easily disproved by a timeline of Smedley’s life, which includes her being in the United States during almost all of the Second World War[16].  Masaaki’s use of these two sources is an example of a snapshot fallacy—one small piece of the puzzle doesn’t fit in with the larger picture (in this case, the pieces include writings about China that don’t mention a massacre), so therefore Masaaki uses them to discount the events from occurring.  However, the fact that these two sources don’t specifically mention a massacre doesn’t prove anything.

Masaaki’s claim that Time magazine never ran any stories about the Nanking Massacre is one of the most easily disproved claims in the entire book.  A simple search of a Time magazine database, going back almost to the beginning of the 20th century, yields an article published on February 14th, 1938 that calls the events the “Nanking Atrocities.”  One particularly gruesome excerpt describes the events:

“I have seen jackrabbit drives in the West, in which a cordon of hunters closes in on the    helpless rabbits and drives them into a pen, where they are clubbed or shot. The spectacle at Nanking after the Japanese captured the city was very much the same, with human beings as the victims[17].”

Obviously, the American media knew what was going on and reported thoroughly on accounts of the situation.  Time magazine is one of the most popular and widespread weekly magazines in the country; to say that no American media outlet reported on the situation in Nanking is pure and utter falsehood.

Although there are indeed examples of newspaper and magazine articles that were printed during the war, Mark Eykholt, a noted historian on the topic of the Nanking Massacre, claims that there is another reason for an overall shortage of articles on this important event.  He states that “the Massacre was only vaguely known until after the war.  At the time of its occurrence, the only recorded evidence of atrocities was the writings of a few Chinese and Westerners…writings that were then smuggled to the outside world”[18].  Eykholt also notes that, just as in the Holocaust, the rest of the world was unable or unwilling to believe that the reports were true, and the extent of the killings and rapes was doubted by most.

Masaaki argues that if there were truly a massacre going on in Nanking, then the United States, Britain or France would have lodged an international protest, as they did with aerial bombings in Nanking.  However, there is a major problem with this logic—the fact that most of the outside world did not know what was truly going in Nanking at the time, not to mention the fact that these nations were all extremely preoccupied with the war.  Aerial bombing is something that is extremely easy to witness even from far away; most people within a certain radius will be able to know that aerial bombing is occurring.  However, during the Massacre Chinese civilians were rounded up, herded to one area and shot—in many cases, leaving no or few survivors.  It is harder to detect a massacre of this type; as previously stated, any witness accounts at the time had to be written down and smuggled out.  It is unlike that these three Western nations were going to lodge a major international protest without solid, concrete and incontrovertible evidence.  The evidence for the massacre, indeed even the knowledge of the massacre, was extremely limited at the time, precluding the possibility of France, Britain or the United States lodging an international protest.

Masaaki also claims that the “only explanation for this oversight is that no massacre ever occurred in Nanking”[19].  This is faulty logic—there have been many massacres, indeed genocides that the United States and other nations have refused to recognize.  For instance, at this very moment genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan is taking place.  There are very few people who will doubt that this true; however, the United States has still not called this what it is, a genocide because of the legal requirements connecting with naming it a genocide.

Masaaki notes that when he visited the areas where the Massacre took place, there were no rumors floating around and no one talked about what had happened.  This, however, does not mean that nothing did happen.  During the time when Masaaki was in Nanking, the war was still in full swing; the Japanese were still present in Nanking, and people still feared for their lives.  Daqing Yang notes that “the majority of the survivors of the Nanking Massacre, however, had to remain in the occupied city for nearly eight years before it was no longer dangerous to openly talk of Japanese atrocities…even then, not all surviving victims were eager to recount their sufferings”[20].  Obviously if people felt they were in danger, and knew that the Japanese army had intended to leave no witnesses (many mass executions had only one surviving witness, out of several hundred killed) then there would be very few people willing to talk about the Massacre.  If they were to talk about the Massacre, it is very unlikely they would have talked to Masaaki, a member of the Japanese Army.

The final argument that Masaaki makes is about the pictures in Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking.  On pages 116 and 117 he prints two versions of the same photograph—one a more narrow view, and one more panned out[21].  The scene is a riverbed, filled with Chinese corpses.  Masaaki himself notes that the scene is “ghastly,” but according to him is a part of the war.  However, this is in direct conflict with one of his earlier statements—that the Japanese soldiers treated the corpses of the victims very well, including giving the bodies a traditional funeral[22].  Indeed one of the main hinges of Masaaki’s argument is how moral the Japanese army was, using their methods of the disposal of corpses as an example.  This contradiction is one of the most glaring fallacies in his book.

Masaaki gives one example of a photograph he believes to be doctored, and one photograph that he believes to be miscaptioned[23].  Although Masaaki doubts the legitimacy of two photographs, there are hundreds of other photographs in existance, sometimes from the private collections of Japanese soldiers, that he has not addressed.  Even if two photographs were doctored or mislabeled (I am not convinced they are) Masaaki fails to account for the hundreds or thousands of others.

In addition, Masaaki uses several other photographs as evidence that shouldn’t count as evidence.  For instance, he gives over 12 pages of photographs of various activities of the Japanese soldiers in Nanking—from the aforementioned funeral practices, to shopping in the Nanking bazaars, and acts of kindness by Japanese soldiers to Chinese citizens.  However, these photographs don’t prove anything.  Even if the Japanese were kind to the Chinese sometimes, or gave the Chinese army corpses funerals, it doesn’t mean that they did not, at one time, rape, murder and burn.

Examining the types of evidence that Masaaki uses, as well as how he argues his case, my conclusion is that Tanaka Masaaki’s What Really Happened in Nanking? has absolutely no historical merit, and is indeed harmful to the cause of accurate historical memory and respect for the victims.

The language that Masaaki uses is sometimes shocking, and sometimes indicative of his faulty logic.  Take, for example, the quote used at the beginning of this paper.  Masaaki seems to have a personal bias against Chinese people, as he writes (if not believes) that Chinese people would enjoy incestuous rape.  Masaaki also makes sweeping claims about evidence that are impossible to prove.  For instance, when discussing the photographs that he believes to be fakes, he claims that searching for real photographs of the Massacre “have been fruitless, which is not surprsing, since none ever existed”[24].  I don’t believe that a real historian, doing a real historical inquiry, would ever make such as a sweeping claim about the existence or non-existence of evidence, especially since a quick Google search will yield several hundred pictures whose provenance and captioning Masaaki has not yet refuted.

Masaaki also fails to give a motive for why the Chinese victims or the verdict at the International Military Tribune for the Far East was, in his opinion, completely fabricated.  He accuses practically everyone, from journalists and witnesses to judges and juries to fabricating evidence, believing fabricated evidence, or simply ignoring what, to him, are plain truths, but he never gives a motive for why he believes this.  In my opinion, he seems to be defending the honor of his country.  This is not, in and of itself, a bad goal; however, denying atrocities committed by his army and his country only anger the victims, China, and the rest of the world (Iris Chang called the revisionist movement a “second rape”).  Without a motive for making up a huge series of events, his revisionist work slips farther and farther away from plausibility.

One possible unstated theory for his motive for denying the Nanking Massacre could be his involvement.  He was, after all, in the Japanese army during World War Two (although he was not in China during the Nanking Massacre), he may be shouldering some guilt for what happened.  He was very close with many people, such as General Matsui, who were indicted in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and executed.

Unfortunately, denial of the Nanking Massacre has effects wider than just ahistorical and inaccurate revisionist works.  The Nanking Massacre has always been one of the least known massacres of the war—misinformation and denial has always been a part of the historiography of the Nanking Massacre.  This has even spread to Japan’s textbooks.  The controversy over Japanese textbooks is widely known—the Japanese government is very strict in their scrutiny of textbooks, especially those relating to history or social sciences.  Takashi Yoshida, a Japanese historian who wrote about the historiography of the Nanking Massacre in Japan, notes that many textbooks mention that the Nanking Massacre occurred, but don’t explain the scope or number of people killed.  Not only is there a wider textbook censoring movement in Japan, but I was surprised to learn that Masaaki was not only a part of it, but leading it.  According to Takashi Yoshida, Masaaki objected to the terms “aggression” and “Nanjing Massacre” from even being used in secondary education textbooks at all, and sued for “suffering” that he incurred because of their use.  Not only is Masaaki attempting to use his own book to deny the Nanking Massacre, but has also sued to prevent other textbooks, textbooks that are supposed to be unbiased to educate the next generation of youths, from telling the truth.  Fortunately, the judge recognized the ridiculousness of Masaaki’s case and stated that “psychological sufferings claimed by the plaintiffs are nothing but displeasure and irritation attributed to historical and political views that they disagree with”[25].

Fortunately, the judge in this case is not the only person of influence in Japan that recognizes the Nanking atrocities and refutes Masaaki and others’ denial.  In 1993 Hosokawa Morihiro was elected Prime Minister; he was the first Prime Minister in thirty eight years who was not a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.  Prime Minister Morihiro publicly apologized for the aggression of Japan in the Second World War and acknowledged that it was an unjust war; the revisionists in Japan reacted by forming the Committee to Examine History to raise awareness about their revisionist agenda[26].

Even schoolchildren are not fooled by revisionist attempts to deny the uglier parts of history.  According to Yoshida, sixth grade students in the Mie district learned in their history class about what happened during the Rape of Nanking, and decided that they would build a monument to remind themselves, and everyone else, to be kind to other people.  These students didn’t reach this conclusion by idly reading their government-screened textbooks or revisionist literature; they decided that the war and massacre needed to be remembered by interviewing comfort women and war survivors.  Children, even children as young as sixth grade, are smart and logical.  They can learn the true and correct history, if given the opportunity and access to historical information, such as interviews with survivors.  However, Tanaka Masaaki is doing the children of his country and the entire world a disservice by publishing clearly illogical and misleading works such as What Really Happened in Nanking.  He may be fighting to preserve the honor of Japan, but I believe that the rest of the world, including China, would look more fondly at Japan if the proper apologies and reparations were made, and the truth about the Nanking Massacre was recognized.

 

 

Works Referenced

 

Chang, Iris.  The Rape of Nanking.  New York: PublicAffairs, 1997.

 

Fogel, Joshua A.  The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography.  Berkeley: University of             California Press, 2000.

 

Mackinnon et al.  Agnes Smedley: Life and Times of an American Radical.  Berkeley: University of          California Press, 1990.

 

Masaaki, Tanaka.  What Really Happened in Nanking?  The Refutation of a Common Myth.  Tokyo:          Sekai Shuppan, 1987.

 

“War in China: Eyewitness.”  Time.  Feb. 14th, 1938.  April 27th, 2010.

<http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,848813,00.html&gt;

 

Zhang, Kaiyuan.  Eyewitnesses to Massacre: American Missionaries Bear Witness to Japanese     Atrocities in Nanjing.  New York: Sharpe, 2001.


[1]   Masaaki 53

[2]   Masaaki 144

[3]   Masaaki 39

[4]   Masaaki 13

[5]   Masaaki 23

[6]   Masaaki 25

[7]   Masaaki 25

[8]   Masaaki 26

[9]   Masaaki 73

[10] Masaaki 81-92

[11] Masaaki 91

[12] Masaaki 80

[13] Masaaki 115

[14] Fogel

[15] Zhang

[16] Mackinnon

[17] Time Feb. 14th 1938

[18] Fogel 12

[19] Masaaki 80

[20] Fogel 139

[21] Masaaki 116-117

[22] Masaaki 126

[23] Masaaki 112-113

[24] Masaaki 111

[25] Fogel 89

[26] Masaaki 96

The Scientology Conspiracy

Joshua Egged
05/19/2010
Historical Methods

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The Conspiracies of Scientology

The church of Scientology has been brought up under many various controversial claims. Many of these controversial claims take the form of people accusing the church of being a greedy cult. Supporting these accusations include the claim of the churches use of brainwashing, taking their members’ money, and alienation of people from their families and loved ones. It is also evident that The Churches leader L. Ron Hubbard will do a lot to defend himself and the Church. He even will go as far as to conspire against the US government to protect himself and advance Scientology.

Scientology as described by Tommy Davis and David Miscavige in various interviews is a way of improving peoples spirituality and mental health. As they describe many people have problems with their mental imagery that they cannot control which result in their negative feelings and social (particularly communicative) inadequacies. Scientology uses various counseling sessions and exercises to help people control their emotions and to prevent these negative mental emotions from causing them distress. Through Scientology it’s members attempt to rid themselves of their anxieties, communication problems and any other mental setback they might encounter. These purges of negative thought and emotions ideally are done until a person reaches a state called Clear, which allows a person to be unhindered by their negative imagery and take a

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stronger control over their life.(Hubbard) Their status as a religion is justified by them as described by David Miscavige on nightline, by saying that religion is there to help in people’s spirituality and that is what Scientology does as they believe that persons spiritual presence also known as a Thetans and their mental consciousness are one in the same.

However to many critics of Scientology like BBC reporter John Sweeney this comes off as more of a glorified self help business rather than an actual religion, especially when you consider the exuberant amounts of money a person must pay in order to receive these self help courses. The self help portion of Scientology is known as Dianetics. from this people attend counseling services and perform exercises designed to enhance their concentration and improve their ability to give and follow orders. These “alternative therapy” treatments cost about $20 an hour with access to the upper levels of Scientology ranging from around $300,000-$500,000. The progress of an individual is marked by their Operating Thetan levels which they can only advance in by purchasing more types of improvement and counseling programs designed to rid the subject of bad past memories that cause them pain and discomfort. In an interview on nightline with Ted Koppel, David Miscavige was asked about the nature of spending money on these treatments and asked how far a poor person would be able to advance in the church. Miscavige responded by saying “pretty far… by the time you start getting anywhere near the top you won’t be poor anymore, because generally people in scientology do better.” Miscavige also mentioned that a person who does not have enough money to advance can audit other people and be audited in tern. This is showing that the church generally has

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their members work to earn enough money before they are allowed to advance in the church. This generally hooks people into spending all of their available money on these self help programs and striving to make more money so they can improve themselves though Dianetics, this is also aided by the fact that the church only recruits people who are actively looking to improve themselves in some way. This strengthens their suggestive power over the person because they are already looking for someone to fix them. This shows that the church specifically targets people who are actively seeking an escape from their current life, they take people who are generally depressed or frustrated with something in their life and offer them salvation, at a cost. Online and literary critics including former scientology members say that the exercises that the church uses on people cause the person to enter in an irrational and lucid state of mind a lot like hypnosis often resulting in a euphoric feeling. After achieving this state of mind they are immediately rushed into an office and are pushed into purchasing more classes. Many people sell many of their possessions and take out huge bank loans so they can attend more classes. While in these mental states they are being told about how much they are improving and getting closer and closer at overcoming their problems. In his book “Inside Scientology” by Robert Kaufman, Kaufman gave the example of his friend and cello partner had found scientology and told him how much it was helping her focus and improve her cello playing however Kaufman in his book Inside Scientology observed in their cello sessions that she was making the same mistakes she always was and that there was no seeable proof to the suspected improvements she was making as she attributed to scientology. (Kaufman, p 31) Many scientologists retort by saying that the treatments of

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Dianetics truly do help people and if they didn’t people just would not pay the fees, but critics such as Kaufman claim that they are tricked and brainwashed into believing that these treatments are making them into better people.

In terms of separating people from their families and loved ones, that seemed to vary from case to case. According to Tommy Davis the church feels no ill will to a person who does not personally share in their beliefs and he urges everyone to be tolerant of alternative religions. However when any person, including a family member, friend or loved one speaks publicly in any ill manner towards the church (this includes trying to persuade someone from not taking part in the churches activities) they are subject to what they call Fair Game. This is essentially the idea that a person who publicly speaks out against the church is not to be treated with the same ethical standards that they hold for other people. This includes restricting them of any contact with members of the church of scientology, harassment and in some cases numerous background searches in order to discredit anything negative they might have to say about the church. In Terms of people who have left the church this is almost certainly a given and they are almost completely cut off from their former life as many of their friends and sometimes family are firm followers of scientology, and once they leave they are seen as traitors to their beliefs and as a result cut off contact with them. In addition whenever any former members publicly say anything negative about the church they are branded as liars. Even when former members of the church whom have never met each other describe in detail similarly the procedures of scientology and the abuse of its senior members to its subordinates. The

 

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church responds by saying that they are all liars and it is only made to seem that their stories all match up.

Scientology in general is known to keep a lot of church secrets that they do not tell the public and people just starting to get into scientology. In fact the most sacred of church documents are reserved for the more committed and senior members of the church. There is a lot of controversy of the origin story of scientology. The basis of the Origin story of the depression of man according to scientology and L. Ron Hubbard can be attributed to the exploits of Lord Xenu who ran a galactic federation of planets. Millions of years ago. Xenu felt that his world was overpopulated and as a result gathered together countless aliens, had them frozen and thrown into the volcanoes of the primitive planet of earth. In addition to this Lord Xenu trapped the spirits or Thetans of these aliens and fed them misleading information which caused them to wander the earth and attach themselves to the bodies of humans which infect our minds and help cause our negative emotions. This concept is controversial because Senior ranking members of scientology and their spokesmen will neither confirm or deny whether or not their religion actually believes this story. Every time one of their members is confronted with the question they state that the question is offensive to their religion and that they refuse to dignify it with a response, some even saying that it “might” seem ridiculous. However Tommy Davis himself stated in an interview with John Sweeney in a BBC report stated that people who talk about the secrets of the church of scientology and who are not scientologists are offensive to them. This suggests that it is not the idea of this farfetched story being attributed to their religion offensive, rather that they are offended by non-scientologists

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talking about it. It seems unclear as to why the church would reserve this information only to upper middle to higher ranking members of the church, former upper management Scientology Stacy Brooks says that by the time she was given the passage to read about the history of the universe Scientologist members had already been conditioned for years to believe everything written by L. Ron Hubbard as fact and that she instantly believed it after reading it. This shows how the church is very sensitive about their secrets getting out to the general public. This need for scientology to keep their secrets tightly under wraps as possible along with the continuous allegations towards them was seen as very suspicious to various people and governments during the rise of scientology. After Hubbard received enough heat from the controversy he decided that it was time to take action. (L. Ron Hubbard, SeaOrg. Wikipedia)

During the course of Hubbard’s scientology reign he became a large target for most English speaking nations such as the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, in fact he was completely banned from ever returning to England or Greece. After the controversy surrounding him he took himself and the heads of his Organization to the high seas in what is known as the Sea Organization. The set up of this organization is a good example as to the description of the character and actions of L Ron Hubbard and his church of scientology. This shows that Hubbard and his organization were under so much controversy from people and governments that they were disliked and in some cases banned from certain countries. In a manner the Sea Organization served as Hubbard’s personal pleasure cruse where he could run the church of scientology without being harassed by national governments. While holding the self adorned rank of Commodore

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on his boat he was constantly surrounded by helpers who were teenage girls who performed tasks that appealed to his every comfort, including having the job of catching his cigarette ashes, in addition to this having a large stockpile of recreational drugs on board his vessel. With all of this it was probably easier for Hubbard to free himself from the laws and confines of State governments, this also probably the best course for him as he was later issued an arrest warrant by the French court for fraud and was sought after by the IRS for embezzling millions of church dollars into overseas bank accounts. However for Hubbard it seemed perfect for him and the leaders of his church as they would treat their subordinate scientology members any way they wanted, including locking them up in smelly galleys and throwing them off of the side of the ship. This also serves to facilitate Hubbard’s need for secrecy of his religion, as only the highest secrets of the church were disclosed on Sea Org boats.

The maintenance of secrecy in Scientology is so important that L Ron Hubbard wrote about it in his Fair Game policy about attacking people trying to attack the church in order to prevent people from leaking negative information about the church in to the public sphere the church goes far to conspire against their potential adversaries even to go as far as Stalking and illegal information gathering in order to black mail or frame those who get in their way. BBC reporter John Sweeney during his report on scientology he produced a segment on the churches efforts to conspire against him and his crew in order to scare or blackmail them into ceasing their activates. He reported on how the church had sent people to spy on them with video cameras and to rummage through their trash in order to find potentially embarrassing information. One of the greatest examples of the

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churches conspiracies against their public threats was in the case of the Churches Operation Freak out and Operation Snow white.

The church’s biggest conspiracy be attributed to their project in the 1970s to infiltrate government agencies to acquire material that could be harmful to L Ron Hubbard and to the church. L. Ron Hubbard according to documents from the FBI and statements made by people close to him in the 50s and 60s was that he was largely considered mentally insane suffering paranoia against the psychiatric association and the CIA sending out hit men after him. However in some ways he was correct in that he was being investigated by the FBI along with Interpol.(The H Files) In the 1960s Hubbard created the Guardians Office which was charged with the protection of the church and its high ranking members. The church organization had already been the subject of raids by the FBI, FDA and the IRS who claimed that the church owed the government millions of dollars in taxes after tax exempt status was revoked. Originally the purpose of Operation Snow White was to infiltrate Interpol and acquire files that connected L Ron Hubbard to various criminal activities as well as obtaining files that would be potentially harmful to the church. Hubbard himself wrote Guardian Order 732 which requested the Guardians office to remove or change false information about scientology which caused governments to look at the church in a negative light thus resulting in the hindrance on the advancement of scientology in those countries (such as Germany and Greece both being governments that Scientologists claim discriminate against them) and the Prevention of Hubbard’s ship “Apollo” from landing in their countries.(Operation Snow White, xenutv.com) In 1974 the Guardians office took a change of pace in the United

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States when they learned that the IRS was going to have a meeting regarding the churches tax exempt status. The Guardians office, lead by Marry Sue Hubbard (L Ron

Hubbard’s wife), set out to bug the meeting and afterwards implement plans to steal or copy documents from the IRS and the department of Justice that would hinder their tax exempt status. Eventually two men of Operation Snow White were caught stealing documents from the US courthouse library, Gerald Bennett Wolfe and Michael Meisner. They fled to LA and were given cover stories but they were eventually picked up by the FBI, after a guilty plea and a confession to infiltrating the federal government lead the FBI to allow a large scale raid on the head office in LA where they found many of the documents and items that they were looking for. While the members of the operation were convicted and sent to jail, many believe that all of this was orchestrated by L Ron Hubbard himself and that he was the one who signed the order for the Guardian Office to infiltrate the government agencies. The church and their Lawyers argue however that Hubbard never sanctioned any of this and that it was all a miss-interpretation of what he had wanted them to do therefore this is all the work of independent parties and Hubbard is blameless in all of it.(Operation Snow White, Wikipedia)

In regards of public harassment against critics of scientology the church takes the same stance on it as they do with all of their illegal activities they simply say that the harassment was carried out by fanatical scientologists and that the church organization has nothing to do with it. But what we gather from Hubbards Dead Agent policy in terms of how to deal with critics of scientology, this is clearly not the case. In it the document states “Never let entheta [negative thoughts about scientology] pass unhandled.

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Prevention is better than cure. Handle fast, handle with live communication, handle with documentation, use PR technology including tone scale evaluation. Liaise with your

senior and the other divisions/bureau. Maintain ethics presence and see the matter through to a completion including the discrediting of the attacker.” (Dead Agenting, xenu.net) This shows that Hubbard and the church clearly want it’s followers to conspire with their superiors and other church organizations in order to get dirt and discredit their critics from making valid claims. While the church and their lawyers repeatedly claim that it is all individual action, it is clearly a cover up for many church conspiracies against private individuals. A great example of this can be seen in the plight of Paulette Cooper during her harassment and plot against her labeled Operation Freakout.

From the files recovered by the FBI on Operation Snow White lead to the discovery of Operation Freakout. While this operation never went into effect it publicly exposed the church for organizing aggressive conspiracy plots against people who publicly cross them. Paulette Cooper, an American author who was outspokenly against scientology was coming out with a book called “The Scandal of Scientology” which would have done considerable harm to the church’s image. The church tried considerable amounts of harassment in order to scare Cooper into ceasing her criticisms of Scientology. When she previously complained about the churches harassment, church lawyers claimed that these acts were simply the act of radical fanatics and the harassment was in no way connected to the official church of Scientology. However after the FBI raid on the churches LA office proof the churches involvement was discovered in the documents of Operation Freakout. The Operation contained an elaborate plan to frame

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Cooper of harassing the Arab Consulates to the point where she was either put in jail or a mental institution until she agreed to stop criticizing the church. After official church

involvement was discovered the church agreed to an out of court settlement to Cooper. (Operation Freakout, Wikipedia) These two examples show how far the church is willing to go in order to protect their secrets and to instill fear to anyone willing to speak out against them. Shy of actually committing murder the church and their followers are willing and capable to doing anything and everything to discredit another person or to remove them as a threat or to get something they want, in the Governments case, tax exempt status. Governments are also clearly not free from the fair game policy either Tommy Davis in various interviews accused Germany of Nazi like tactics in order to discriminate against scientologists. It is clear that wither they be an author, reporter or even the United States government, no one is free from the investigations and manipulations of the Church of Scientology.

While there is much controversy surrounding the church of scientology most of the factual evidence seems to indicate that the church of scientology is not what it tries to present itself as in the public eye. While the statements of former members of scientology on religious practices and exercises seem to point to brainwashing which result in the accumulation of their members’ money, there is no solid evidence to support this accusation. As for the church dealings in conspiracy, it very obvious through the various confessions and raids that the Church has conspired against various national governments as well as private citizens in order to protect themselves to being slandered. The church

 

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itself in the past has lied to protect itself and been exposed many times. However under the veil of law the church continues to protect its highest ranking members as the church

gradually purges away all negative thought about scientology from governments and all the people around them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

 

 

 

Operation Snow White. http://www.xenutv.com/blog/?page_id=18. 05/09/2010

 

Operation snow white. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Snow_White. 05/09/2010.

 

Operation Freakout. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Freakout. 05/09/2010.

 

L Ron Hubbard: Legal difficulties and life on the high seas.. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard#Personal_life. 05/20/2010

 

Sea Org. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Org. 05/20/2010

 

Dead Agenting. Operation Clambake: Undressing Scientology. http://www.xenu.net/archive/enemy_names/dead_agenting.html. 05/09/2010.

 

Hubbard, Lafayette Ronald. Dianetics: the modern science of mental health. Hermitage House. 1950.

 

Sweeney, John. BBC Panorama. John Sweeney and Scientology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT6oqBFdJYQ. 05/02/2010. May 14, 2007.

 

Koppel, Ted. ABC News: Nightline. Interview with David Miscavige. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWUasKX3FZE. 05/02/2010. Feb 14, 1992.

 

Bashir, Martin. ABC News: Nightline. Scientology Report. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adgYpfwJuBI. Oct 22, 2009.

 

Kaufman, Robert. Inside Scientology/Dianetics. Olympia Press. 1972

Glenn Beck and the Battle to Save American History

 

 

History at the “Feel” Level:

 

Glenn Beck and the Battle to Save American History

 

Nick White

History 175: Methods

December 16th, 2010

 

Introduction:

 

“Our history is being stolen from us,” Glen Beck tells us gravely in a July episode of his popular Fox News show titled, “Restoring History.” Textbooks tell us the Progressive movement was an example of democracy at its finest, fighting for the rights of common citizens. Beck, and the men from which he has constructed his worldview, crusade against this and other supposed facts. They believe a century long conspiracy has produced a tradition of lies and omissions in service of the anti-free market, anti-individualist factions that have always sought to undermine America since its birth. A small but dedicated band of thinkers have struggled to overthrow the liberal version of American history, in order to alert people to the malevolent intentions of its authors. Beginning with the wild conspiracies of John Birch Society founder Robert Welch and BYU professor W. Cleon Skousen, these efforts have been honed into a more focused charge against the likes of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and the very idea of government as a positive force in the world. The title of this paper comes from the foreword to W. Cleon Skousen’s The 5000 year Leap. In it, a former student and colleague of the author recalls the almost religious experience that accompanied his introduction to the ideas put forth in the book. For thirty-five dollars, Skousen would teach you the “real” intentions of the founding fathers. The student described the lesson as “history taught at the ‘feel’ level.” Here in lies the genius of Glen Beck, his contemporaries and his predecessors. By making American history an emotional experience, they rally their faithful to defend the “true” version like crusaders to the Holy Land. The thing that makes history different from the other academic fields is judgment. Unlike the hard sciences which study events free from the constraints of morality and choice, the study of history always returns to the basic battles of the light and the dark, good king and bad king, righteous nation and corrupt culture. Skousen, Beck, Welch and their fellow travelers believe America is an act of Divine intervention on behalf of humanity, the final stage in mortal progress. They both welcome and fear the judgment of history, so convinced are they of our national destiny, and the pure evil of collectivist tyranny, represented here by liberal progressivism. By asserting the version of the past, which promotes the minimalist ideals, and free market, absolutism radical libertarians hold dear, these men hope to correct the nation’s course before we drift further away from our intended destination. This paper will show the mixed (sometimes self-interested) motivations, the twisted tricks of logic, and bad scholarship behind these efforts to “restore” American history, beginning with the Cold War paranoia of Skousen and Welch, and ending with Beck and Schwikart’s modern day corrupt games of guilt by supposed ideological association. The power of an emotional response, right though it may be, must never be confused with certain truth.

 

 

The Naked Nutcase: Skousen, Welch, and the Origins of Paranoia

 

“It is a terrible and awesome thing when a man sets out to create all other men in his own image.” So begins W. Cleon Skousen’s 1958 work, The Naked Communist. This sentiment is at the heart of what far-right agitators like Skousen and John Birch Society founder Robert Welch advocated in the mid-twentieth century. Communism was a nefarious conspiracy, lurking in the shadows, waiting to capitalize on the tiniest crack in our defenses and enslave the globe with lies and falsehoods. Liberals were in league with these dark forces, wanting nothing more than to remake humanity to fit their ideals. Glen Beck proves that this paranoia did not die with the Soviet Union, but found new shadows to fear. From these early masters of anxiety, he learned the art of terror, and the ability to shape history like wet clay to carry even the most preposterous notions to a worldwide audience. Both Skousen and Welch have been viewed as crackpots since the mid-sixties. Skousen’s writings on “The Communist Attack Against the Mormons”, referring to criticism of the LDS’s then policy of excluding non-whites, lead even conservative voices like the National Review to censure politicians like Mitt Romney for citing him as a legitimate source. Welch was a joke by the end of the sixties after the more ridiculous conspiracy theories of his John Birch Society’s became public knowledge. Despite their intellectual repudiation, Beck continues to promote both the works and ideas of both men.

The 5000 Year Leap is the perfect blueprint for the Tea Party revolution. Short simple, and chock full of useful quotations, the book provides 28 principles supposedly passed down to posterity by America’s Founding Fathers. The title expresses the author’s belief that the two centuries following US independence saw advances in the sciences, in medicine, in industry, and in communications equivalent to those of the previous five millennia combined. Skousen believes that all these miracles “flow out primarily from the swift current of freedom and prosperity which the American Founders turned loose into the spillways of human progress all over the world.” Beck cites Skousen’s work as the foundation of his “rediscovery” of the past. His frequent mention of The 5000 Year Leap has lead to the book’s resurrection from its initial obscurity. Originally published in 1981, the book was born out of Skousen’s work at the Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution. The purpose of the book is to lead America back to its roots, back to the principles on which it was founded.

So what are these principles that we have supposedly lost? For the most part, they argue a Libertarian interpretation of the Founder’s intentions. Each principle is spelled out in a 3-12 page section, complete with inspiring illustrations and out of context quotes that seem to support Skousen’s case that America must return to its original path. For example, the 15th Principle: “The Highest Level of Prosperity Occurs when there is a Free-market Economy and a Minimum of Government Regulations.” Like most conservatives, Skousen had an almost religious faith in the capacity of totally unrestrained capitalism to bring prosperity to the masses. He explains how the nation was founded on ideas like those of contemporary Adam Smith, but lost its way in the Keynesian inspired haze of the New Deal and Great Society. Debt is our eternal enemy, and Franklin, Washington and Jefferson all add helpful quotations to reacquaint us with that basic fact. The other 27 principles are laid out in a similar way, with important phrases capitalized, distorted historical anecdotes provided, and always grounded in the idea that Skousen’s vision is one in the same as the Founders. Highlights include Principle 24’s assertion that the peace is only possible through a strong military, Principle 19’s argument for the repeal of the 17th amendment on the grounds that it is too democratic, and, running counter to the trend in modern day conservatism, the 25th principle, which puts forth Washington’s Farewell Address as a call for “separatist” approach to foreign affairs. Why this inconsistency between the Cold War and Post 9-11 right? Skousen and his ilk had watched Vietnam nearly destroy America’s reputation abroad, and help elect the most anti-military president of the twentieth century in Jimmy Carter. They understood the risk in taking up the white man’s burden. Thirty years of hero worship and revisionist studies of the war have convinced the far right of our military’s invincibility, if allowed to fight unimpeded by limp-wristed politicians. Outside of this one major inconsistency, The 5000 Year Leap serves as an excellent blueprint for the Beck “Restoration.” Unlike Skousen’s other famous work, 1958’s The Naked Communist, it traffics mostly in tight, common sense, maxims that will not offend. This difference in style between the two books illustrates the fringe’s ability to soften its rougher edges to fit more neatly into the mainstream.

The Naked Communist was intended, and is written as, a textbook. Students eager to learn the true nature of communism, or parents and educators seeking to prepare them for the inevitable battles in their future, could pick up this handy one stop source for all things red. Beginning with Marx and Engels, the book traces the history of world communism through the Russian Revolution, into the contemporary conflicts in Asia, and into the various “spy rings” intent on destroying America from within.  Each chapter begins with questions that will be answered there in. For example: “ How did the Communist leaders use Lend-Lease to get atomic bomb secrets?”  “Do you think diplomatic blunders have encouraged the attack on South Korea?”, and “How was it that Marx never acquired a profession, an office, an occupation or a dependable means of livelihood?”. Naked Communist is the work of a more fervent hand, but uses many of the same tactics as 5000 Year Leap. Again quotes are used aggressively, and often without proper context: In the chapter titled “Defenders of Communism”, Skousen has a hypothetical student ask the great communist thinkers various questions like, “Then what is the Communist attitude toward the Bible which contains many moral teachings?”, and answers them with a quotation from Marx, Lenin, Engels, or in this case, the Russian Dictionary of 1951, a book which he suggests condemned the bible as a tool “for gaining power and subjugating the unknowing nations,”. While that may well have been the official Soviet opinion on the King James, the definition he cited was “Christian Economics”, and not the one for the Bible. This Plato-like game is just one instance of Skousen’s shoddy scholarship. Sources on the supposed American/Soviet spy rings are made up entirely of memoirs penned by the likes of Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, published after they had “seen the light” and sought to profit off their days as communist agents. He begins the section on the rise of Hitler with, “It is said that communism was largely responsible for the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party,” suggesting such views are common knowledge and not gross distortions of the facts. These methods, though much more subtle, were still present by the time Skousen wrote 5000 Year Leap. In a section titled “The Founders Warn Against the Drift Toward the collectivist Left”, he uses John Adams’ condemnation of utopian leveling schemes in England as evidence that all the “ideas of socialism and communism” are unconstitutional, even though the Constitution was ratified before Karl Marx was born. 5000 Year Leap got a second life because it focuses on the solution rather then the problem.  The Naked Communist was a catalogue of the many sins and bad intentions of the world wide socialist conspiracy. Like Skousen’s other wild beliefs, its case is easy to laugh off as an eccentric oddity of the Cold War. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, its arguments became irrelevant. Skousen learned from this mistake, focusing his next work on the heroes, and not the conspiracy. Again the introduction to the book is revealing: the author met Skousen through a thirty-five dollar “Constitutional Study Course” taught out of a garage. As a product, 5000 Year Leap appeals to a much wider audience then the more radical Naked Communist. That appeal is what continues to attract believers to this day.

“The greatest enemy of man is, and always has been, government.” With this idea in mind, Robert Welch founded the most infamous far right group in American history, the John Birch Society, in the same year that Naked Communist was published. Welch was a wealthy former executive of a candy company (and inventor of the Junior Mint) who, like Skousen, saw the dark hand of international socialism everywhere he looked. He and his conservative allies abandoned the Republican Party after their candidate, Robert Taft, was denied the nomination in favor of war hero and liberal appeaser General Dwight David Eisenhower. Convinced America was, with both parties in the hands of communist sympathizers, tumbling down the slippery slope to red tyranny, Welch wrote a book. The Politician was initially self-published and self-distributed, complete with instructions from the author that the shocking facts within were “for your eyes-only.” The book does nothing less than accuse the man, who led the victory against the greatest evil in human history, of treason. Eisenhower, by far the most historically bland of the post-war presidents, is here painted as a natural, and slippery politician, who uses his charms to work his way from lowly Lieutenant Colonel, to POTUS in twelve short years. Like Skousen’s Naked Communist, it reveals the rookie mistakes of a first time fear monger. Killing Caesar didn’t restore the old Republic, and revealing the treacherous face of an American icon didn’t stop the liberal conspiracy. So Welch learned from his enemy, and went underground. He formed the John Birch Society (named for a Christian missionary executed by communist forces during the civil war in China, the supposed first casualty of the Cold War) in the same year as The Politician appeared. Small, highly disciplined cells spread out across the country, educating themselves on the tactics of soviet subversives, spreading literature, and recruiting like minded zealots. The group has become famous for its more fantastic theories (Illuminati, fluoride in tap water), and was condemned by the respectable leaders of the Conservative Revolution like William F. Buckley. But these eccentricities have not poisoned the well from which Glen Beck continues to draw ideas. Robert Welch is a right wing crusader’s ideal quote machine: “…neither the form of government nor its quality is as important as its quantity.” (making Somali paradise on earth) Skousen avoids naming the people who lead America out of God’s illuminated path into the dark wilderness of secular collectivism, but Welch does not hesitate: The Progressives. In the 1966 collection of his public speeches, Welch spelled out how the cancer of communism arrived in the new world, and what its intentions were: “…from the very beginning the whole drive to covert our republic into a democracy was in two parts. One part was to make our people come to believe that we had, and were supposed to have, a democracy. The second part was actually and insidiously to be changing the republic into a democracy.” Woodrow Wilson heads the imagined “Marxian program”, creating a progressive income tax, putting direct election of senators into the hands of the people, and ingraining the lie of democratic America into the nation’s psyche. “If enough Americans had, by those years, remembered enough of their own history, they would have been worrying about how to make the world safe from democracy,” so goes the authors judgment on the First World War. Nowhere in his long survey of the birth, and evolution of communism in America does Welch bother to make reference to any source for any of his tremendous leaps of imagination. Progressives are the root of all evil. This is the lesson Beck took from Welch and his school of thought. His recent infamy makes him harder to claim then the relatively more obscure Skousen, but even the old stigmas are beginning to fade. The Tea Party, who trusts no American more than Glen Beck, had a national convention earlier this year in Nashville, Tennessee; A strange move for a group that supposedly despises the pomp and circumstance of the traditional political parties. Who footed the bill for these patriots whose guiding principle is frugality? Robert Welch’s John Birch Society, rebranded and ready to reap from newly fertile fields of the paranoid and disillusioned.

 

The Crying Game: Glen Beck and the Restoration

 

 

“It’s what progressives do,” Larry Schwikart, professor of history at Dayton and author of A Patriot’s History of the United States said on Glen Beck’s “Restoring History” special in the summer of 2010: “they reshape the past in order to make policies for the present.” Complete with pipe and jacket, Beck used this program to initiate his reclamation of American history, that now includes a for-profit online collection of courses. This one, forty-minute drive by reveals the tangled motivations, tactics, and implications of the war against “liberal lies.” Joining Beck and Schwikart was Burton Folsom Jr., a professor at Hillsdale College and author of the ingeniously titled New Deal or Raw Deal: How FDR’s Economic Legacy has Damaged America. The show leaps from one historical figure to another, damning those who have been unjustly canonized and praising those unjustly condemned by the lies told in textbooks. They start with Welch’s defendant number one: Woodrow Wilson.

 

Never has the presentation of a DVD case felt more sinister. In his program of July 9th, 2010, Beck held a copy of the film “Birth of a Nation”, acclaimed by movie historians as a milestone in the evolution of the art form, and denounced (both at the time and the present day) as racist mythmaking akin to “Triumph of the Will.” Beck asked the historians if the film was based on the writings of Woodrow Wilson. Both shifted uncomfortably in their seats, offering only vague “I’ve heard that, but I haven’t verified that,” in response. Anyone with access to an iphone could have learned instantly that the movie was based, not on the work of Wilson, but instead the novel “The Clansman” by Thomas Dixon. Dixon had known Wilson in college, and did screen “Birth” in the White House, but had no part in its creation or production. The most disturbing part of the brief exchange was, however, Beck’s introduction of the idea: “I have read, and I don’t know if this is true, but I have read…” Even the most basic of research by Beck or his staff would have instructed the host that the notion was false. This illustrates the danger posed by these new efforts to “restore” history through 40-minute hatchet jobs built on shoddy scholarship. Not once in remaining half hour of the broadcast, broken up by numerous commercial breaks, does Beck bother to correct his mistake. The panelists are intent on using Wilson’s undeniable racism to damn him and the whole progressive movement, and have no problem using information they have not confirmed. This is the central hypocrisy at the core of Beck’s crusade: Insist that progressives have ignored or reworked original texts to suit their political purposes, while committing both offenses in the service of your own, personal mission. Beck uses his guests like the mallets in a whack-a-mole arcade game, hammering Wilson again and again with racist act after racist act. They play the same game with birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger. Her all consuming sin was her association with the eugenics movement. Beck uses his breathtaking talent for historical connection to put the progressive movement at the death camps of the Third Reich. Schwikart this time hurls the unsubstantiated accusations, citing a speech Sanger supposedly gave to the KKK. While he admits there is no record of what she actually said, “someone who was there” confirmed that it had to do with eliminating the lesser races. The depths of their self-delusions are unfathomable. During their assault of the legacy of the New Deal, they attack FDR for claiming extraordinary wartime powers, but praise Lincoln for exercising the same authority. What is the difference between the two men? Lincoln instituted a progressive income tax, arrested troublesome dissenters, and instituted the most radical example of property confiscation in US history. He was more radical then Roosevelt was in his most ambitious dreams. Yet neither Beck, nor his guests, dare attack the hallowed name of Abraham. If they were truly men of their beliefs, they would rail against the incredible expansion of federal power during the Civil War, and not hide behind easy explanations of how Lincoln “gave power back” once the war ended. Lincoln was dead before the fighting stopped. No one can profess to know what he would have done with the authority granted him by the crisis, after that crisis had passed. The same goes for Roosevelt. He acquired and exercised unprecedented executive power during a period of sustained unrest. But he did so as a self-confessed liberal, part of the progressive tradition focused addressing economic equality: “Wilson and FDR, they did more to destroy the constitution than practically any other president, or all other presidents (present president excluded) combined.”  Welch and Skousen got nowhere throwing firebombs at the popular table. Beck and his guests show they understand what lines not to cross when discussing Teddy Roosevelt during the program’s short question and answer session.  TR exposes the trouble with living and dying by labels. It’s much harder to make “progressive” a dirty word when one of the pillars of the Republican Party proudly claimed the title as a badge of honor. Here Beck, who didn’t shy away from throwing his uninformed weight around on the subject of Wilson, pleads ignorance, praising Roosevelt’s “fierce independence” and environmentalism. What is Larry Scweitkart’s explanation for this unflinching patriot’s connection to such an insidious cabal: “He never really ran and owned a business that had to make a profit.” Apparently, the best preparation for leading the free world could be had running an Arby’s, but not serving as Police Commissioner, Governor of the most populous state in the union, Undersecretary of the Navy, Colonel in the United States Army, and Vice President. None of these endeavors compare to all the experience George W. Bush gained running the Texas Rangers into the ground, or Jimmy Carter got managing a peanut processing plant in Plains, Georgia. The two historians double down on their unflinching faith in the inherent nobility of capitalism by praising John D. Rockefeller’s charitable donations, and behind the scenes efforts to help blacks out of poverty. For an all white panel, speaking in front of an all white audience, and viewer ship, the program seems obsessed with the treatment of blacks in America. Wilson, Sanger, and Byrd are all evil because they were racist, and as the liberals have taught us, racism is the worst sin imaginable. Hammering home his solidarity are the pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King that pass by in the graphics at the end of each commercial break. Strange that, being so concerned with the status of minority rights throughout American history, Beck did not bring in Robert Welch’s “Letter to Khrushchev”, where he provides his summary of the Civil Rights to date: “Five years ago the white people and the Negores of our South, more peacefully inclined towards each other than at any time since the Civil War, were making tremendous progress in the solving of our difficult racial problem. But with the help of a huge book written by a Swedish collaborator of yours, of a Communist-contrived Supreme Court decision, of white Communists sent to serve as “secretaries” to notoriety-seeking Negro preachers, of a whole school for agitation run by Communists in Tennessee, and of ten thousand other acts and methods skillfully designed by your agents to stir up bitterness and riots, the whites and Negores of the South are now giving dangerous vents to an increasing hatred-all, naturally, because of this spontaneous movement of the left’. “ Nor does Beck pull out Skousen’s work linking criticism of the Mormon church’s exclusion of non-whites to communist influence, either. The premise of this entire program is a lie. There is nothing “shocking” about what we have learned. Woodrow Wilson was a racist, Margaret Sanger believed in Eugenics, and John D. Rockefeller gave a lot of money away. Abraham Lincoln was a great president, and Martin Luther King is a hero. No one is likely to raise any hell over the long dead Wilson and Sanger, nor challenge the sanctity of the two most admired men in American history. This show is nothing more than an infomercial, designed to wet the mark’s appetite for juicy facts exposing the darker side of liberal do-gooders. The methods of both Beck, and his two guests mirror those of Holocaust deniers: Hyper focus on aspects that damage the integrity of your ideological opponents, in order to distort the history of the event or era you are describing. “Not all progressives were involved, but many were,” they say as they talk about eugenics, death camps, Hitler and the progressive movement as thought they were all the same thing. Skousen and Welch were obsessed with exposing the conspiracy, no matter how popular the participants in it might be. Beck and his colleagues lack this courage, throwing stones only when they know none will come hurtling back at them. If the methods of Skousen and Welch were as equally flawed as those of Beck, Schwikart, and Folsom, at least the integrity of their beliefs was beyond question.

 

Conclusion:

 

Texas reveals the danger of allowing historical revisionism to go unchallenged. In standards adopted by the state school board in May, students there (and in the 48 other states whose textbooks are written to Texas’ standards) will learn to “identify the role of the U.S. free enterprise system within the parameters of this course and understand that this system may also be references as capitalism or the free market system,” understand that the separation of church and state is not found in the Constitution, and that the United States has been weakened by taking part in international treaties and organizations (“A government trying to step in an improve the workings of a free market is exactly like a man who takes a lantern outdoors at noon of a bright June day to show you the sun,” Robert Welch in 1957). They will not learn about “ordinary people”, the democratic nature of our country, nor Thomas Jefferson, as all three were redacted by the evangelical majority on the fifteen-member board. The fact that the ideas of lunatics like Robert Welch and W. Cleon Skousen have made it into our nation’s classrooms is evidence of the grass-roots success of the far right. After decades of being kept at arms distance by the likes of William F. Buckley, Ronald Regan, and George H. W. Bush, they gave up trying to change the world from the top down. Their ideas are like landmines from a long forgotten war, waiting to explode in what seemed to be safe and well-established paths. By far the most disturbing part of the Texas saga is who lead the charge to rewrite history. Rather then rely on so-called experts or academics, board members like Don McLeroy, a dentist by trade, decide what is and is not fact. “Read original sources whenever you can,” instructs Beck at the beginning of “Restoring History,” bypass the middlemen and get the real story from the horse’s mouth. Interpretation, in their eyes, is tantamount to reinvention. In this mindset, Huckleberry Finn is nothing more than a boy and a slave floating down a river. Relying solely on original sources leaves the scholar subject to the same prejudices, self-interest, and lack of big picture perspective that affected their authors. Good history is the balance of primary and secondary sources, each one canceling out the other’s shortcomings.

“In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth…” So said the progressive Teddy Roosevelt, as quoted by the antithesis of progress, Robert Welch, to defend his insane case that Dwight Eisenhower was a Soviet Spy. Irony is one gift denied to these self-professed sons of liberty. Glen Beck has studied his predecessors and learned his lessons well. As Mark Lila notes, he is part of a long tradition of rabble rousers and  “…mediums, channeling currents of public passion and opinion that they anticipate, amplify, and guide, but do not create; the less resistance they offer, the more successful they are.” What separates Beck from Hannity, O’rielly, and Limbaugh is emotion and personalization. Rarely do we get a peak behind the curtain of the other pillars of the new right, and when we do, what we find is often very ugly (O’rielly’s explicit voicemails, Limbaugh’s drug addiction). Beck is an open book. At the beginning of the “Restoring History” program, he casually compares the supposed crimes done to American history to the terrible things he experienced during his alcoholic days. Rush rants, Hannity rails in machine gun like fashion, but only Beck cries. During the show, he reacts to every word the two authors say like a Kindergartner at story time, wide eyed and open mouthed. Other conservative voices traffic in opinions. Glen Beck sells belief. “Our history is being stolen from us,” he warns us, while sitting in front of pop-posters of the men who overcame all their personal and societal sins to make America. By making them into gods, beyond question or doubt, he strips them of their greatest gift to the future. The Founders saw a world that did not match the ideals they knew in their hearts to be true, so they decided it was the world, and not the ideals, that needed to change. That very Skousen-like sentiment would not bother Beck in the least, but this next one certainly would: Some of those ideals were wrong. The genius of the Constitution is that it was written on paper, and not in stone. It was the lack of unity, the lack of consensus that gave birth to the American experiment. Whatever else they may or may not have wanted, the Framers understood change was inevitable, that progress was inevitable. Skousen, Welch, Beck and their followers exist in echo chamber, where only their truth is heard, and made all the more real with each retelling. Their ideals never change, so they change the past instead. The efforts by Skousen, Welch, Schwikart, and Beck to distort, exaggerate, and falsify American history for profit or for faith reveal the need some people have for conspiracy. When the nation that for two centuries has put their values at the forefront moves ever so slightly in another direction, the Welch’s of the world need to believe a communist plot to put fluoride in the reservoirs is to blame. For them, America is a land where right always wins out, where justice always prevails. The only way their vision could not come to pass is through foul play on the part of the progressives. Destiny can be as corrosive as acid in the hands of misguided patriots and amoral demigods.

 

 

 

 

 

 Endnotes:

 

Princess Diana’s Death: Conspiracy without End

Robin Kuehn
Professor Elliot Neaman
Historical Methods
13 December 2010
Princess Diana’s Death: An Accident the People cannot Accept
On the fateful morning of August 31, 1997 the world woke up to the shocking news of Princess Diana’s death. She had the fantasy life that most outsiders dreamed of: a royal husband, two beautiful sons, an unlimited and fashionable wardrobe, a beautiful face, media attention, a personable touch, and the list goes on. Although her life was photographed as a fairytale, what lay behind the smiles for the camera was a dark and lonely personal life inflicted with a loveless marriage and the pressure to conform to the rigid standards of royal etiquette. After putting up with Prince Charles for too long and having her divorce finalized in July 1996 she was able to move on and live her own dreams of helping the less fortunate. With the weight of a horrendous marriage off her back, Diana showed the world her ability to remain a strong and independent woman without needing a husband at her side. Not only was she a single mom but also she was able to touch the hearts of those who were suffering from AIDS and the people living in countries polluted with land mines. She was the Queen of Hearts and when the world heard the news of her death, it caused grief amongst millions admirers. According to the Kubler Ross 5 stages of grief model, people cope with death first through denial, then anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance . After some time most people accepted her death and moved on, however there were some who remained stuck in the denial stage. They immediately began to question the cause of her death. Was there a plot to murder Diana? If so, who could be behind it? People were looking for answers to a question that might not even have an answer. Association cannot be proof of fault, so in the case of Princess Diana’s death, one should not assume that anyone close to the Princess played a role in her death. Although it seems like there is evidence to back up the claim that the monarchy was responsible for Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed’s death, the evidence can also be manipulated to make it look like Mohammad Al Fayed (Dodi’s father) planned the accident. After all the investigation that had been completed, like Operation Paget, there still was no concrete evidence to prove either party guilty, so Diana and Dodi’s tragic death remains the result of a serious accident. After Operation Paget was completed and it was found that the crash was an accident, anyone who refused to believe the evidence could be considered a conspiracy theorist. It was hard for Mohammad al Fayed (Dodi al Fayed’s father) to accept the cause of Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed’s death as just an accident, even though all the evidence proves it. The motive for his need to find a cause of death can be interpreted in different ways: either he is truly looking for a culprit or he is trying to divert the attention away from himself as being the cause.
The chronology of events that took place on August 30, 1997 that lead to the Henri Paul, Princess Diana, and Dodi al Fayed’s death at a little past midnight on August 31, 1997 are as follows. Upon arrival to Paris from a relaxing vacation in Sardenia with Dodi, the couple was immediately escorted to Dodi’s apartment. From the apartment they drove back to the Ritz Hotel to settle down in the Imperial Suite. After making a few phone calls it is assumed that they were off to dinner so Henri Paul was officially off duty. While Dodi and Diana attempted to enjoy a quiet meal in the city, no one kept track of what Henri Paul was doing on his time off (no one really cared either). The Princess and Dodi returned to the hotel after an unsuccessful dinner in the city so they ate in the Imperial Suite of the hotel instead. At 9:50pm once their meal was completed, Henri Paul was called back to drive the couple back to Dodi’s apartment. At 12:20am they left the hotel and although the couple did not notice that Henri Paul was drunk, several of the paparazzi noticed that he was laughing excessively and ranting about how no one would be able to catch them tonight. Once they entered that car and closed the door behind them, their fate was sealed . As they sped through the streets and into the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel, the car that Henri Paul was driving sped out of control and hit a pillar. It is here where there is controversy as to what exactly happened. Since it was past 11pm and the video camera security office was already closed, there was no way to view some video footage of what actually happened that fateful night in the tunnel.
Because there were so many questions left unanswered at the time of Princess Diana’s death, conspiracy theories were created in an attempt to fill the gap. Some of the questions that the coroner still had even 10 years after the accident were: “whether a Fiat Uno or any other vehicle caused or contributed to the collision, the circumstances relating to the purchase of the ring, whether the British or any other security services had any involvement in the collision…”
Absurd Conspiracy Theories
Several conspiracy theories arose as an attempt to find an explanation for Princess’ death; they ranged from absolutely ridiculous and impossible to theories that made people actually stop and think twice about them before dismissing them. One of the most outrageous theories is the idea that Diana faked the whole accident so the world would think that she was dead. The idea was that once the world grieved and forgot about her, she and Dodi could escape to a private island and live in peace forever. Since Diana was sick and tired of the media intruding in every facet of her private life, this theory may seem like a dream come true, but it is highly unrealistic. There were videotapes, pictures, and audio recordings from the Ritz Hotel that show her and Dodi al Fayed walking to the car. There are also pictures of her in the car immediately after the accident. In order for this theory to have actually worked Diana would have had to find someone identical to her (including matching DNA since blood samples were tested) and magically switched spots between the time that she entered into the car and her death. This is nearly impossible because there were paparazzi following the car the whole way from the hotel to the tunnel. Also, it is easy to dismiss this theory since the Coroner’s reports all show thorough blood tests and other medical examinations that prove the woman who died in the car was actually Princess Diana. Personally, I also do not believe that Princess Diana would be selfish enough to leave her sons and her duties to the world in order to live on a secluded island with her boyfriend. She was too generous and her heart was too big to be isolated on an island. For this conspiracy theory to be valid, at least a few people would have to know about the plot so that they could assist in the switching of the “Princess Diana look alike.” I think it would be incredibly hard for those people to keep quiet about her situation, making the possibility of this conspiracy theory a zero. In her Panorama interview Diana’s response to a question asking if she was out to destroy the monarchy was, “…why would I want to destroy my child’s future?” This response proves that Diana was always looking out for her children’s best interest. She could sacrifice her desires and suppress her bitterness for the monarchy so that her children could grow up in a secure environment. I do not believe that Princess Diana would have thought that selfishly disappearing with Dodi to escape the media would be the best option for Prince William and Harry.
An even more ridiculous conspiracy theory is that God smote Diana and Dodi off the face of the planet because she was sleeping with a man (Dodi) that was not her husband. These conspiracy theorists base their idea on Deuteronomy 22:22 which reads, “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.” The fact that some people think that the accident was a direct hand of God is ridiculous since they choose to disregard the fact that the driver was drunk and it was a mere accident due to driving under the influence. Also, if you read the Bible verse literally, she was divorced to Charles by now so she technically was not married Prince Charles anymore. Her divorce was on July 15, 1996. When religious extremists use the Bible to explain everything, it becomes hard to explain evidence and have a logical conversation with them. If you disregard concrete evidence there is no way that you can accept the proven facts.
Mohammad as a Father
As a father, Mohammad had a legitimate reason to question the cause of his son’s death. To find internal peace and closure, Mohammad al Fayed looked for answers to his questions about who was responsible for the car accident. When the answers did not satisfy him he went to court to find justice. Under the concerned father image, Mohammad just wanted to find justice for his son and wanted to find the true reason for his son’s death. He spent millions of dollars to try and find a culprit and have justice prevail, however his finger pointing only led to all the fingers being pointed back to him.
Currently, Mohammad still has a portion of his website devoted to the “truth” about Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed’s death. He remains saddened about his son’s passing and is still trying to keep the memory of him alive by continuing to search for someone who will right the wrong of his Dodi’s death.
Mohammad as a Conspiracy Theorist
Using the characteristics listed in Denying History, Mohammad al Fayed exemplifies the fact that, “they focus on what is not known and ignore what is known, carefully selecting data that fit and ignoring data that do not fit into their preconceived ideas.” Mohammad tried to find external factors that triggered Henri Paul’s speeding like the flash bulb at the end of the tunnel or chasing paparazzi. Instead of accepting that drunk driving causes extreme behavior Mohammad chose to ignore that fact and picked other out of context details to make it seem like Henri Paul had no other option to speed. Mohammad has been known to be fixated on certain details that don’t exactly add up to the fact that it was as purely an accident. He uses those minor details to discredit the whole theory of the accident. In order to have a fair trial, Mohammad al Fayed’s investigation “should not be motivated, for example, by the desire to curry favor with an advertiser or to advance a particular political interest.” In fact, Mohammad has done the opposite; he has been looking for a clue that proves that the accident was a result of a conspiracy theory. Motivated by his own goals of finding a culprit he has manipulated evidence to fit them into his own conspiracy theory.
In order to find a responsible party for Princesss Diana and Dodi Al Fayed’s death, Mohammad has blamed several different people and organizations. The first group of people he found fault in was the paparazzi. From the beginning of Princess Diana’s courtship to Prince Charles, the paparazzi were present to document her every move. This constant presence of paparazzi did not stop when she began dating Dodi, in fact the paparazzi thrived on photos of their relationship. They remained intrusive even after she died in the car accident, for there were still photographers snapping photos of her in the mangled car after the accident. Because the paparazzi had a long history of causing problems with the subjects of their photos, it was easy for Mohammad to blame them. It could have easily been a flash bulb that blinded Henri Paul or a Paparazzo that accidentally hit the car in a mad dash to get a close up shot, in the end the Paparazzi were present at every stage of their night and visible at the accident, the paparazzi became an easy target for blame. After media attention swirled around the possibility of the paparazzi being the cause of Princess Diana’s death, the photographers defended themselves and claimed they were being made the scapegoats. Mohammad may have picked an easy target at first, but after the investigations dismissed the paparazzi of being at fault, Mohammad had to find another culprit.
Mohammad Al Fayed’s main conspiracy allegation is that the M16 (British intelligence) assisting in carrying out the murder for Prince Philip. He claimed that the ‘“establishment’ could not accept that an Egyptian Muslim could eventually be the stepfather of the future King of England.” There are several reasons why this theory could appear valid, for there are several reasons as to why the Queen would prefer that Diana was dead. Rumors spread like wild fire that the Queen wanted her killed because she didn’t want a Muslim in the family, Diana was pregnant, Diana was a disgrace to the royal family, etc. There were several clues or coincidences that made it easy to point fingers at the Queen. For example, in a private letter to Paul Burrell (Diana’s butler) she wrote, “my husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car. Brake failure or serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry Tiggy.” One of Diana’s close confidantes Lucia Flecha da Lima believes that Paul Burrell faked the note, since he was able to mimic the Princess’ handwriting. Mohammad could have paid Paul a large sum of money to fake the note in order to make his theory look more valid. Lucia Flecha de Lima spoke with Diana on several occasions, even a day before her death and does not remember Diana expressing any fears for her life. At first it seems right that Diana was uncontrollable and a disruption to the royal family traditions, but I don’t think the Queen would risk the reputation of the royal to dispose of an unruly princess. I also do not believe that she would want her grandchildren to suffer the pain of losing a mother at such a young age.
Another reason why some people make think the Queen killed the princess was because the Sunday of Diana’s death, the Queen made the Prince William and Prince Harry attend church as if nothing happened. Because the lack of empathy on the Queen’s behalf, Mohammad used this instance to further prove his point that the Queen was behind the whole plot. She obviously did not have an emotion or sadness over the loss so Mohammad assumed that this meant she was happy that her secret plan succeeded.
The Controversy Surrounding Henri Paul
Henri Paul was an employee of Mohammad Al Fayed, so people began placing the fault on Mohammad. Maybe that is the reason why he began making up different rumors about her pregnancy, their engagement about the flash of light that caused Henri Paul to swerve. All the conspiracy theories that were put out there by Mohammad were his attempt to divert the fingers pointing to him or his fault. Mohammad claimed that it was all an outside influence that caused the accident, not Henri Paul who was an employee of Mohammad. Mohammad may have been pouring all this money into investigation either to attain justice for his son’s death or to have media attention drawn away from him and to the monarchy instead.
Many people have concluded that there could have been a master plot behind the car crash because there were several instances that occurred that seemed a little too coincidental. For example, Henri Paul’s bank account had a suspicious amount of extra cash deposited just days earlier, which led to a suspicion that he was paid to crash the car and kill the Princess and Dodi. If an uninformed person did not look into the details of the accident, they could easily think that the accident was the result of a plot and the extra money in Henri Paul’s bank account was his reward money for fulfilling a mission. However, the truth behind the money in Henri Paul’s bank account was for him to purchase last minute items for guests who did not have cash on hand. The guests would be billed later.
Mohammad also puts fault on the French health system. Thomas A. Sancton investigates the details of the emergency health care on the night of the accident. Henri Paul and Mr. Fayed were killed instantaneously upon impact of the car crashing while Princess Diana was still alive but had thoracic trauma, some cuts on the forehead, arm, and thigh as well as a dislocated shoulder. Her bodyguard was still alive but suffered only from a broken wrist and several severe injuries to the face. Immediately after the crash a physician with the SOS medicines private medical group arrived on the scene because he was coincidentally driving in the tunnel at the same time as the accident. Upon arrival to the site of the accident he did not know who was involved so he immediately began to help the woman with the most hope for survival by putting her head in a position where she could breathe easier. Since he did not have medical equipment on hand, he called the emergency services as soon as he could. The French have a system where they try to treat the patient on site and stabilize them before transporting them to the hospital. In America it is the opposite, we scoop the patient up and bring them to the hospital as fast as we can. The French emergency service Sapeurs-Pompiers is like a “mobile hospital unit” because it has the capability of treating the patient thoroughly en route, but the crew failed to identify the Princess’ internal bleeding. They took 40 minutes to drive to the hospital rather than a usual 10-minute drive. This was a point where Mohammad argued that it was a conspiracy for the Queen probably paid the ambulance workers to slowly drive to the hospital so Princess Diana’s likelihood of surviving would be lower.
In addition to the lack of evidence that supports the fact that the accident was a murder, Baker, the coroner and Ian Burnett, the lead counsel for the inquest both suggested that the amount of people that Fayed claimed that were part of the conspiracy would have made it incredibly hard to remain a secret. Baker said, “ A lot of people were involved in the plot” meaning that for every single one of those people to keep their mouths shut and keep the evidence hidden must have been something close to a miracle, especially with the nosiness of the paparazzi and the temptation to sell information for a lot of money.
Operation Paget
Operation Paget was a government funded intensive investigation conducted by Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington in 2004 to finally settle any disputes and controversies as to the cause of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed’s death. Mainly this investigation was to put all of Mr. Al Fayed’s claims that the accident was a planned murder to rest. Lord Stevens and his team contacted everyone involved in the accident from the French Police to Prince William. He claims that all organizations and people involved have been extremely cooperative and there had been no attempts to hold back information, therefore his report is fully complete and his conclusions are accurate. The result of the investigation and their findings all are stated when Lord Stevens writes, “Our conclusion is that, on all the evidence available at this time, there was no conspiracy to murder any of the occupants of the car. This was a tragic accident. “ Operation Paget refutes the claims suggested by Mohammad al Fayed about the engagement and pregnancy. According to the interviews with Lady Sarah McCorquodale (Diana’s sister), Paul Burrell, and Rosa Monkton there was no indication that Diana had an intention of marrying Dodi. In fact she mentioned that she needed marriage, “as a rash on her face.”
Conclusion
After researching the many opinions on the cause of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed’s death, I have to agree with Lord Steven’s conclusion that their death was the result of a tragic accident. No one knows what Mohammad’s intentions are in pointing fingers at the monarchy, paparazzi, and even the French Health care but he has become a conspiracy theorist in not recognizing the concrete proof. Mohammad exemplifies the characteristics of a conspiracy theorist by having an agenda that he is trying to fill and finding specific clues and details that fulfill his agenda while leaving out other important information.

Works Cited
Baker, Lord Justice Scott, “Coroner’s Inquests into the Deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Mr. Dodi Al Fayed” http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090607230718/ (accessed November 4, 2010)
Burns, John F, “In Diana Inquest, a conspiracy theory with new twists” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/18/world/europe/18iht-diana.4.10156887.html (Accessed November 4, 2010)
Levine, Michael. The Princess and the Package: exploring the love-hate relationship between Diana and the media. Los Angeles, CA: Renaissance Books, 1998
Oxon, D. Phil and Thomas A. Sancton. “Death of a Princess, Did Princess Diana Have to Die?: A Case Study in French Emergency Medicine.” The Internet Journal of Rescue and Disaster Medicine 2000: Volume 1 Number 2, http://www.ispub.com/ostia/index.php?xmlFilePath=journals/ijrdm/vol1n2/princess.xml (accessed November 4, 2010)
Rayner, Gordon, “ Princess Diana Letter: ‘Charles plans to kill me’” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1573170/Princess-Diana-Letter
Sancton, Thomas A., “ Death of a Princess, Did Princess Diana Have to Die?: A Case Study in French Medicine” Internet Scientific Publications. (accessed November 4, 2010)
Shermer, Michael, and Alex Grobman. Denying History. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2000.
Stevens, John, “The Operation Paget inquiry report into the allegation of conspiracy to murder.” (2006), 5, http://www.met.police.uk/news/docs/OperationPagetReport.pdf
(accessed November 4 2010)
“Dodi and Diana: Their Story” http://www.alfayed.com/dodi-and-diana/their-story.aspx (accessed November 9 2010)
“Princess Diana’s Accident” [Accident], http://www.princess-diana.com/diana/accident.htm (accessed November 20, 2010).
“Princess Diana’s Death: Conspiracy Theories” http://www.coverups.com/diana/theories.htm (Accessed November 9 2010)

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