In our very first essay (“We Introduce Ourselves”), we promised that Priceton.org would be ever current, but never topical. Thus, during the nearly two-year long U.S. presidential campaign, we at Priceton fastidiously resisted the urge to weigh in, in spite of the besetting temptation it posed on an almost daily basis to the satirical imagination. But in our most recent post (“Fake News”), we may have jumped the gun. After all, it has been only two months since the election campaign officially ended. (And what mind is so capacious as to be able to make sense of, what stomach so robust as to be able to metabolize, after such a brief interval, the Olympian dung-heap of misinformation and lies excreted by the Democrat campaign and bespread by their propaganda agents in the progressive media?
As an antidote to our indecent haste, accordingly, we offer “Fake News From Long Ago”: factoids and story-lines about the history of the world ab initio to the modern era, that have been blithely repeated by historians (popular and academic), theologians, philosophers, scientists, university professors in every field, politicians, TV documentarians, movie makers, journalists, and other contemporary ideological snake-oil salesmen, most of whom have been driving under the same progressive influence as fecundated the fake news stories enumerated in our previous installment.
Here then, off the top of my head, is a partial list of the things that everyone knows are true, but aren’t (in roughly chronological order):
~That the Hebrews were the first and only monotheists in the antique world.
~That there existed ever, anywhere on earth, a “matriarchal” society.
~That the pagan Greeks and Romans were naïve “polytheists”, who ludicrously worshiped “idols” (mute objects of stone and wood made with human hands) as if they were divinities.
~That child sacrifice was widely practised throughout the pagan (Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman) world.
~That the ancient Greeks were sensualists and worldlings–that they valued earthly beauty, goods, and pleasures–, in stark contrast to the contemptus mundi attitude regnant amongst the philosophers and theologians of the medieval Christian era.
~That the ancient Greeks condoned, exhorted, and widely practised homosexual love (Plato taught this!).
~That Epicurus and his followers (including Lucretius) were atheists or hedonists.
~That Christian baptism means the washing away of sin.
~That Jesus taught, and Christianity means, loving thy neighbour, helping the poor, establishing the conditions for “social justice”, “equality”, blah, blah, blah.
~That the “blood libel” was first invented by Christians and merchandised by them against the Jews.
~That the official hierarchy of the Christian Church sanctioned the burning of the library of Alexandria.
~That the period from the fall of the Roman Empire until the 8th?/9th?10th?/11th?/12th?/13th?/14th?/15th? century in Europe was a great Dark Age of ignorance, illiteracy, and cultureless barbarism.
~That the Crusades (as Pres. Obama recently characterized them) were an unprovoked military aggression and violation of national sovereignty by the Church Militant against the homeland of Islam.
~That the Inquisition was typical of the Church’s benighted and universal crushing of all religious and intellectual dissent, and that it was one of the worst, if not the worst, such example in history.
~That there was something called “courtly love”, and that it extolled romantic and adulterous passion, in direct repudiation of Christian moral teaching.
~That Chaucer, or any other medieval author, was giving us an accurate portrait of “real life”, that his characters are modeled on real people, and that, like a modern novelist, he cared a fig (to use one of his favourite expressions) for psychological verisimilitude or naturalistic narration or description.
~That pagan authors were proscribed in the Christian Middle Ages, or that they were “dangerous”, and read only beneath the bedcovers.
~That among the ancients, Aristotle’s was the most important influence on medieval Christian philosophy and theology.
~That the works of Aristotle and other pagan authors would have been lost had they not been preserved by a supposedly tolerant and enlightened Islam.
~That Muslim scholars reintroduced the classical auctores into the Latin West at the beginning of the Renaissance, and so deserve credit for inspiring it.
~That, after an interregnum of otherworldly mysticism and sin-laden gloom, the Renaissance rescued mankind from a dark age of Christian ignorance, intolerance, and superstition, reasserted the validity of earthly beauty and sensual experience, revived the serious “scientific” study of nature, and did all of this as a consequence of their rediscovery and re-valuation of the long-neglected or anathematized ethos of Greco-Roman paganism.
~That Rousseau’s savages were ever, anywhere on earth, either in general or particular, more “noble” than any other nation, culture, or random collection of human beings.
~That before the arrival of Europeans, the indigenous tribes of North and South America were pacific, non-competitive, environmentally-conscious, tolerant, inclusive…(insert you favourite progressive buzzword here).
~That the engine of industrial and post-industrial capitalism is greed, whereas socialist ideologues, union members, administrators of social programs, government bureaucrats, or leftist politicians were all born miraculously without the taint of original sin.
~That Darwinism is “settled science”.
~That scientists were ever, or ever will be, “objective”, “unbiased”, “non-political”.
~That the Nazi Holocaust was the worst atrocity in human history.
~That Joe McCarthy was “paranoid”, and there were neither significant numbers of communists nor Soviet agents working in Hollywood or the U.S. government at the time.
~That young people in the Sixties were non-conformist rebels.