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Who’s Afraid of an Ancient Apocalypse?

Napoleon wrote in his journal that the truth of history was “a fable agreed upon.” Fables don’t just entertain; they are moral guidance. They are usually the first stories a child learns. Most people want to know who they are and where they come from.

Atlantis may be the most significant myth in our culture after that of the Holy Grail. The folk memory of a lost homeland, a primordial origin, and a fall from grace seems to echo in our blood. Plato may have been using Atlantis as metaphor, but many think there really was an advanced empire destroyed in a cataclysm long ago. The myth could easily refer to a lost homeland in the far north, not just one in the Atlantic.

The Atlantis myth has had a powerful impact on pop culture. Most recently, it’s the undoubted inspiration for the “Doom of Valyria” in G.R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” books and the television programs Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon.

Graham Hancock is now taking up the myth. He is best known for his books on ancient history, notably Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods. These books suggest that there was an advanced civilization in our ancient past that gave birth to future cultures. It’s an interesting theory, even if mainstream archaeologists don’t accept it. It’s hard to believe it would be “offensive.” I don’t think Elvis is still alive, but I’m not offended by people who do.

In his new television series Ancient Apocalypse, the self-described journalist says he is investigating human prehistory. What’s the problem?

Well, journalists and academics are mounting a two-pronged attack. It’s as if they want total control over information, not just about the present but the past, too; as if only their fables may be told.

The two attacks are in a letter sent by the Society for American Archaeology protesting the show. First, archaeologists appeal to credentials. The presumption that non-professionals have no right to research medical, scientific, or historical questions seems to have grown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The SAA said that “this series publicly disparages archaeologists and devalues the architectural profession on the basis of false claims and disinformation.” These are bold words in an age when “disinformation” is supposed to be censored.

The second argument is that “the theory [the show] presents has a long-standing association with racist, white supremacist ideologies; does injustice to Indigenous peoples, and emboldens extremists.”

This is not the language of science. Whether a theory has an “association” with ideologies doesn’t change whether it’s true. One might as well throw out space flight or campaigns against smoking because of the Third Reich’s contributions.

The letter drips with name-calling:

The assertions Hancock makes have a history of promoting dangerous racist thinking. His claim for an advanced, global civilization that existed during the Ice Age and was destroyed by comets is not new. This theory has been presented, debated, and refuted for at least 140 years. It dates to the publication of Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882) and Ragnarok: The Age of Ice and Gravel (1883) by Minnesota congressman Ignatius Donnelly. This theory steals credit for Indigenous accomplishments from Indigenous peoples and reinforces white supremacy. From Donnelly to Hancock, proponents of this theory have suggested that white survivors of this advanced civilization were responsible for the cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples in the Americas and around the world. . . . Hancock’s narrative emboldens extreme voices that misrepresent archaeological knowledge in order to spread false historical narratives that are overtly misogynistic, chauvinistic, racist, and anti-Semitic.

Archeology was one of the last holdouts in the social sciences against the woke takeover, but it has become so determined to unearth Queer Vikingstransgender skeletons, and ancient female warriors, that the best people are dropping out of universities and doing the work of real discovery online and often anonymously.

Journalists have taken naturally taken up the cry against the Netflix show.

That’s the danger of a show like this. It whispers to the conspiracy theorist in all of us. And Hancock is such a compelling host that he’s bound to create a few more in his wake. Believing that ultra-intelligent creatures helped to build the pyramids is one thing, but where does it end? Believing that election fraud is real? Believing 9/11 was an inside job? Worse? If you were feeling particularly mean-spirited, you could suggest that Netflix knows this, and has gone out of its way to court the conspiracy theorists.

Whether it’s a drama series about Jeffrey Dahmer condemned as “exploitative” by the serial killer’s victims’ families, or polarising stand-up specials featuring offensive jokes about the Holocaust or trans people, Netflix has thrown itself into controversy with gusto, time after time. But who is holding it accountable for these decisions? As a streaming service, Netflix isn’t even subject to the same regulations that regular UK TV channels are: when viewers are offended by something on traditional TV, they can always complain to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom. Because Netflix is based in the Netherlands, it falls outside of Ofcom’s jurisdiction. . . . Netflix too often seems to operate under the amoral ethos of the free market: if people will watch it, that’s reason enough to make it.

This article claims Hancock “once was a bit more explicit” that the people who spread civilization were “white.” He’s supposedly backed off. Archeologist John Hoopes nonetheless warns readers: “If you pay careful attention, he does talk about ‘heavily bearded Quetzalcoatl’ who arrives, according to myth, to give the gift of knowledge, but he doesn’t mention the other part of that trope, which all of us know about, which is that this visitor supposedly had white skin.”

Are we supposed to pretend the Aztecs didn’t believe Quetzalcoatl would show up with white skin? It seems the problem is not whether this is true or false, but whether it might suggest a white guy did something impressive.

The New Republic seems to think right-wingers have gone mad, presumably by noticing what journalists and academics seem so upset about. The Strange and Dangerous Right-Wing Freakout over Ancient Apocalypse says the Atlantis myth has “long been associated with racism.” The magazine then gives the game away. “’History’ isn’t just about what happened in the past,” it said. “It’s also about whose stories get told and how we think about them.” In other words, this is about power. Who gets to tell these stories? Who gets to tell us what stories are not allowed to be told?

Arguments about prehistory have important consequences. Zimbabwe, the failed state forced onto Rhodesia by Britain and the United States, takes its name from the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. The question of whether the ancestors of the current black residents built the ancient city was an important political issue. If blacks’ ancestors didn’t build it, Zimbabwe might not really be “their” country.

The story of “Kennewick Man,” a 13,000 year-old skeleton found in North America, potentially posed a threat to the “Native American” claim of sovereignty over the continent. If Kennewick Man was European or even just not related to today’s “Native Americans,” it would suggest American Indians aren’t “indigenous” after all.

As for more modern history, media campaigns promote long-forgotten racial atrocities such as the Tulsa Riot and false claims of Native American genocide at schools in Canada. These stories are used to win politicalconcessions. And how do we treat the evidence? One breathless report about Tulsa says investigators are pawing through gravesites, before admitting that “none of the remains have been identified or confirmed as victims of the massacre.” It’s not surprising they are finding at least some bodies, since they are looking in a cemetery.

In January 2022, The Federalist reported that Canada hadn’t exhumed or even located a single body from a “mass grave” near the Kamloops Catholic school, but this didn’t stop a wave of arsons attacks on Catholic churches. (Naturally, the current pope apologized on behalf of Catholicism.) Indians claim they need more money to look harder, but it doesn’t take corpses for activists to claim that Catholic schools were systematically murdering children.

This past Saturday, relatives of Emmett Till joined with members of the Black Panthers and the Lion of Judah Armed Forces to protest outside what they believed to be the home of Carolyn Bryant, the woman who accused Till of inappropriate advances. The demonstrators called for the 87-year-old’s arrest. Of course, the real story Emmett Till story is complicated, but nuance is lost in the popular mythology.

Finding, exaggerating, or simply inventing racial crimes and atrocities is an important part of media’s coverage of race throughout the West. Americans look for crimes against blacks, Canadians look for crimes against Indians, and Australians look for crimes against Aborigines. It’s an industry. Whites are never called the indigenous peoples of Europe, but the term “Indigenous” implies that Indians have a special right to the entire Western Hemisphere. However, if people not from North America brought civilization, it undercuts “Indigenous” claims to sovereignty.

There may be another reason media attack Ancient Apocalypse. They and academics cheer when non-whites celebrate the ancient accomplishments of their people. They can even invent imaginary heroes, as in “Wakanda.” Scholars may not believe in Afrocentrism or theories that blacks brought forth Western Civilization, but believing it won’t end your career. Books that claim blacks ruled the world, medieval Europe or Greece and Rome are easy to find on Amazon, and plenty of YouTube videos promote the idea. Al Sharpton believes Africans taught us everything we know, and then apparently forgot it all. Ludicrous theories circulate freely among blacks. Even if these theories incite anger against police or against whites, the media do not protest, never ask why this is allowed, or tell readers ways to pressure the theories’ sources. Blacks’ emotional well-being is evidently more important than the truth.

Of course, no one cares about the feelings of whites. They are supposed to be ashamed. Many in authority tell young whites their people did nothing good. They aren’t going to get any real knowledge about their glorious past from most public schools. Might they be tempted to believe they are descended from the culture-creators Mr. Hancock discusses? Mainstream history has been subverted. Sadly, this leaves the esoteric and conspiracy subcultures, who must do what real educational systems once did. That means interesting ideas are mixed with quackery and falsehoods.

The attack on Ancient Apocalypse shows the System’s paranoia. It’s not a “white advocacy” show, and Mr. Hancock is not a white advocate. However, someone has done research without begging permission from the system. Someone questions the myth of progress, telling the story of a “fall” from a higher state instead of triumphant evolution towards superior values of equality and tolerance. If the past was better than the present, it raises questions about the legitimacy of those who claim they are building a better future for us.

I didn’t know anything about the show until I saw that some academics and journalists were angry about it. Thanks to Julius Evola and Traditionalism, I’m familiar with the Atlantis myth as a spiritual parable. I’m willing to explore evidence even for historical theories that seem far-fetched. It’s more reasonable than trusting broken media and muzzled academics.