Monthly Archives: October 2019

Mystery of the skeleton hijacked by Nazis and Soviets

Mystery of the skeleton hijacked by Nazis and Soviets

By Rob Cameron

For decades, archaeologists have grappled with the identity of a 10th-Century skeleton discovered at Prague Castle, and the remains were exploited by both the Nazis and Soviets for ideological purposes.

But attempts to pin a clear ethnic label on a 1,000-year-old corpse perhaps reveal more about us than him.

He lies, his head angled to the left, his right hand resting on an iron sword. By his left hand are a pair of knives, the skeletal fingers reaching out almost as if to touch them.

By his elbow are what could have been a razor as well as a fire-steel – a medieval firelighter that was as much a status symbol as anything else.

At his feet are the remains of a small wooden bucket – similar to those used as ceremonial drinking vessels by the Vikings – and an iron axe-head.

This is a 1928 picture of the skeleton after it was excavated
Image captionThis 1928 image shows the skeleton as found: with bucket (bottom right), sword, knives and other implements

But it is the warrior’s sword that catches the eye. Just under a metre long, it is still a thing of power and beauty despite 10 centuries of corrosion.

Was he a Viking?

“The sword is of good quality, probably made in Western Europe,” said Jan Frolik, a lecturer in archaeology at the Czech Academy of Sciences.

This type of sword was used by Vikings in Northern Europe, modern-day Germany, England and Central Europe, and by others too.

“So most of his equipment is Viking or at least Viking-like. But his nationality is a question,” he added.

It’s a question that has intrigued and confounded historians ever since the warrior skeleton was unearthed at Prague Castle by Ukrainian archaeologist Ivan Borkovsky in 1928.

Ivan Borkovsky
Ivan Borkovsky unearthed the skeleton but his message was manipulated by the Nazis and Soviets

Borkovsky, an exile from the Russian Civil War, might have been in charge of the excavations. But as a mere assistant to the head of archaeology at Prague’s National Museum, he was prevented from publishing his own conclusions.

How skeleton was adopted by Nazis and Soviets

When the Nazis occupied Prague in 1939, they quickly seized on the Viking theory, as it fitted neatly into the German narrative of racial purity.

Vikings, after all, were Nordic and therefore Germanic. For the occupiers, this lazy conflation was useful propaganda, since it reinforced Hitler’s idea that the German race was simply reoccupying ancient land that was rightfully theirs.

Borkovsky was later press-ganged into the service of Nazi academia, under threat of being sent to a concentration camp, and his heavily edited work published to justify German historical claims.

Immediately after the war, as the Soviet influence over Prague became ever-more oppressive, Borkovsky was forced to perform a hurried U-turn, protesting that he had been pressured into playing up the Viking idea.

Jan Frolik
Jan Frolik says the skeleton’s equipment is mainly Viking but his nationality is open to question

He hastily dusted off the older interpretation of his former boss – that the skeleton actually belonged to an important member of the early Slav Premyslid dynasty, which ruled Bohemia for more than 400 years until 1306.

The new threat – this time the Gulag prison camps – receded.

Where was he from?

Seventy years on, archaeologists such as Jan Frolik are free to make judgments based on science, rather than ideology.

“We know for sure he wasn’t born here in Bohemia,” he said, explaining that analysis of strontium radioactive isotopes in the warrior’s teeth proved he had grown up in Northern Europe, most likely somewhere on the south coast of the Baltic Sea or maybe Denmark.

But that’s prime Viking territory, surely?

“Yes, but just because he was born in the Baltic doesn’t automatically mean he was a Viking. Back then the south coast of the Baltic was also home to Slavs, Baltic tribes and others.”

He believes the warrior from the north – who died of unknown causes at the age of about 50 – came to Prague in early adulthood, to serve in the ducal retinue either of Borivoj I, the first duke of Bohemia and progenitor of the Premyslid dynasty, or his oldest son and successor, Spytihnev I.

A 19th Century print of Borivoj I
A 19th-Century print of Borivoj I, duke of Bohemia and founder of the Premyslid dynasty, which ruled from 895 to 1306

The Premyslids established Prague Castle as the centre of the fledgling Bohemian state, and the warrior’s burial place in the centre of their castle suggests he was a man of some prominence.

Gazing at the skeleton of the unknown soldier, encased in glass in the chilly subterranean corridors of the Old Royal Palace, it’s hard not to pose the same, essentially unanswerable question: Who exactly was this man, with his Baltic birthplace, Viking-like sword, and Bohemian masters?

“Just as today people can have multiple identifications according to their situation, so they would have done in the past,” said Prof Nicholas Saunders, a specialist in 20th-Century conflict, archaeology and anthropology at the University of Bristol.

Prof Saunders recently published an article on the skeleton in Antiquity, together with Dr Frolik and Prof Volker Heyd, an archaeologist at the University of Helsinki, who is currently working on DNA analysis that could reveal more about the warrior’s ethnic origins. More, but not everything.

“This guy’s heterogeneous collection of objects reflected his multiple personalities, perhaps, rather than saying ‘oh he was a Viking’ or ‘oh he was a Slav’,” said Prof Saunders.

“People invent their own identifications according to where they are in time and space, and this guy was obviously a major player – if not the major player – for a number of years.”

In other words, the objects reflected his life.

West Coast Crime Plague

A “shoplifting boom” is plaguing West Coast retailers, Christopher Rufo warns at City Journal: “Since 2010, thefts increased by 22 percent in Portland, 50 percent in San Francisco and 61 percent in Los Angeles.”

Driving it is “an explosion in addiction rates for heroin, fentanyl and meth” — since getting cash for drugs is “the most common single motivation for crime” across America.

And the problem “has only accelerated because of decriminalization,” as “many criminals now believe, justifiably, that they can steal with impunity.” Fearing lawsuits, many stores no longer try to stop even blatant shoplifters.

San Francisco “now leads the nation in overall property crime,” while the problem is driving retailers to close their downtown Seattle shops. Yet the leaders of progressive cities still “refuse to consider how mass decriminalization fuels a breakdown in public order.”

SpongeBob’ is a ‘violent,’ ‘racist’ colonizer, says University of Washington professor

SpongeBob the Racist?

“SpongeBob SquarePants,” which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Friday, has millions of fans around the world, but one University of Washington professor is clearly not among them.

For a recently published academic journal, the professor, Holly M. Barker, wrote an article “Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom,” in which she offers a different take on the affable sea sponge.

“SpongeBob Squarepants and his friends play a role in normalizing the settler colonial takings of indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland,” the article reads.

Barker calls SpongeBob’s colonization of Bikini Bottom “violent” and “racist,” and also claims that the cartoon is guilty of the “whitewashing of violent American military activities” against natives of the Pacific.

Barker’s beliefs come from the idea that the show is set in a version of the real-life Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. During the Cold War, natives of the area were relocated and the American military used the zone for nuclear testing.

Fox News caught up with ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ cast members Carolyn Lawrence, Bill Fagerbakke and Clancy Brown, who talked about their favorite moments from the series and how the show made a huge impact on US culture.

The area remains uninhabitable to this day. That history has given rise to fans’ theory that Bikini Bottom is inhabited by creatures who owe their mutation to that testing.

Barker stated that as an “American character” allowed to inhabit an area that natives had no choice but to leave, SpongeBob showed his privilege of “not caring about the detonation of nuclear bombs.”

Barker also points out the cultural appropriation of Pacific culture, with Hawaiian-style shirts, homes in the shapes of pineapples, tikis and Easter Island heads, and the sounds of a steel guitar perpetuating stereotypes of the region.

Even the theme song, according to Barker is problematic, as it denounces the area as one full of “nautical nonsense.”

Barker understands that the writers likely didn’t have colonization in mind when creating the show, but she’s upset by the lack of acknowledgment that “Bikini Bottom and Bikini Atoll were not (the writers’) for the taking.”

Other issues for Barker: a perceived imbalance between male and female characters, and the name “Bob” representing an everyman rather than a culturally appropriate character

In the article, Barker claims that because of these themes, children have “become acculturated to an ideology that includes the U.S. character SpongeBob residing on another people’s homeland.”

The article concludes with this:  We should be uncomfortable with a hamburger-loving American community’s occupation of Bikini’s lagoon and the ways that it erodes every aspect of sovereignty.”

The journal in which the article was published is called “The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs,” and it is designed to publish pieces on “social, economic, political, ecological and cultural topics.”

A rep for Nickelodeon did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Fox News’ attempts to reach Tom Kenny — who voiced SpongeBob Squarepants — were unsuccessful.

By Nate Day

Why we keep falling for hate-crime hoaxes? Children are lying…

Truth Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Last month, 12-year-old Amari Allen appeared on television to share how she had been brutalized by racist white boys at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. The sixth-grader, who is black, wept as she recalled how she was pinned down during recess, had her arms pulled behind her back and had a hand placed over her mouth so she couldn’t scream.

She said the boys cut off her dreadlocks, calling it “nappy.” By Monday, it was revealed that, following an investigation by Fairfax County Police, the girl admitted she had made it all up.

When the story first broke, left-wing politicians and activists raged. Rep. Rashida Tlaib published a personalized message on Twitter to the girl: “You see, Amari, you may not feel it now but you have a power that threatens their core. I can’t wait to watch you use it and thrive.” On Twitter, some even found a way to blame the Trump administration, noting ominously that Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, teaches art part-time at the school.

As with Jussie Smollett’s original accusations, Allen’s yarn had all the elements of a rage-bait story. Fervid media interest turned a regional non-incident into a national crisis, featured prominently and uncritically on televised reports from NBC, MSNBC, CNN and CBS, in addition to numerous print and online outlets.

Left-wing activists and the mainstream media refuse to learn lessons about hate-crime hoaxes. Sensational claims deserve additional scrutiny. Was Allen or her family asked why no known students had come forward to corroborate her claims? She said it happened during recess — around dozens of other students presumably.

The accused boys were also never sought for comment. On the contrary, the NAACP demanded “immediate disciplinary action” against the minor suspects. 

It’s hard to blame the public and media consumers for their naive credulity. The real problem is that highly publicized fake hate crimes like this one usually receive little public coverage after it is revealed that the original accusation was a hoax.

Then, too, few Americans are aware that in just the past few years, several children have been caught fabricating hate-crime allegations.

In January 2017, police in Gambrills, Maryland, identified a “14-year-old black female” as the suspect responsible for sending out a violent racist threat against her high school using a Twitter account pretending to be part of the Ku Klux Klan.

The following month, students at Plano West Senior High in Texas discovered their school vandalized with racist, anti-black graffiti all over its buildings and school vans. After several months, police arrested and charged Alexandria Monet Butler and Elizabeth Joy Police, two black female minors, for the incident. They were caught on camera vandalizing the school.

Then last year, a 5-year-old black child in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched a frenzied police search after she told her family that a white man in the neighborhood had urinated on her and called her a racist slur. A 60-year-old man was arrested. The child made up the story with her friends.

Nor are incidents like these confined to the United States. In early 2018, Khawlah Noman, an 11-year-old Muslim girl in Toronto, claimed that a man had attacked her by cutting her hijab. The story reverberated across the country, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately issuing comments condemning Islamophobia in Canada. Local police invested huge resources into catching the at-large suspect. Noman had fabricated the incident. She was never charged.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf is as old as time immemorial, to be sure. What’s different today is the mind-boggling credulity of mainstream media and politicians, who jump to ideological conclusions and dial the outrage to 11 before the facts have played out.

It’s no surprise that children lie, but when they are rewarded by an all-too-willing media and audience, we should expect more incidents like what happened in Virginia. The final result: Americans are bound to become ever more cynical and skeptical of hate-crime allegations — even when they’re true.

Andy Ngo is a journalist in Portland, Oregon. Twitter: @MrAndyNgo

WATCH: ‘Hundreds’ Of Young People Regret Gender Transition, Seek Reversal

A female who transitioned to male as a teenager is speaking out about transgender regret. 

Twenty-eight-year-old Charlie Evans told Sky News in a recent interview that she’s spoken to “hundreds” of young people, mostly same-sex attracted women, who regret their gender transition. She also encountered an “online community of 5,000 in a similar position,” according to the network (video report below).  

Evans transitioned and viewed herself as male for almost ten years, before deciding to detransition. 

“I’m in communication with 19 and 20-year-olds who have had full gender reassignment surgery who wish they hadn’t, and their dysphoria hasn’t been relieved, they don’t feel better for it,” she told Sky News, adding, ”I think some of the common characteristics are that they tend to be around their mid-20s, they’re mostly female and mostly same-sex attracted, and often autistic as well.”

“They don’t know what their options are now,” Evans explained.

After dealing with her own experiences and connecting with hundreds of others, Evans  has started a charity called “The Detransition Advocacy Network.” 

“The Detransition Advocacy Network was established to support people who have stopped or reversed gender reassignment,” an ad on Eventbrite for an event for the charity explains. 

To celebrate the launch of The Detransition Advocacy Network on November 30, a group called “Make More Noise” will host an event “discussing the ethics of the social and medical transition of gender non-conforming women and girls” and will feature “talks from professionals working in the field followed by a panel discussion of detransitioned women talking about their experiences.”

After speaking publicly about her transition, Evans recalled being confronted by a young woman “with a beard” who also regretted her transition. “She said she felt shunned by the LGBT community for being a traitor. So I felt I had to do something,” Evans said. 

Another woman who reached out to Evans said she began her transition at the tender age of 13. “After taking testosterone her voice got a lot deeper, she grew facial hair and her body changed. She had been planning to have surgery to remove her breasts this summer,” Sky News reported. 

Now, at 21, the young woman, who only wished to be identified as “Ruby,” wishes to try to undo the damage done to her body and live as a female. 

“I didn’t think any change was going to be enough in the end and I thought it was better to work on changing how I felt about myself, than changing my body,” Ruby said. 

Ruby compared gender dysphoria to an eating disorder; she’s personally suffered with both.

“I’ve seen similarities in the way I experience gender dysphoria, in the way I experience other body image issues,” she said. 

“When I was at my gender clinic to get referred for hormones, we had a session where I went over my mental health issues and I told them about my eating disorder and they didn’t suggest that that could maybe connected with my gender dysphoria,” Ruby explained. “For everyone who has gender dysphoria, whether they are trans or not, I want there to be more options for us because I think there is a system of saying, ‘okay here’s your hormones, here’s your surgery, off you go.’ I don’t think that’s helpful for anyone.”

A spokesperson for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which takes on gender-confused “transgender” patients as young as three years old, pushed back on the women’s lived experiences. 

“Decisions about physical interventions made in our care are arrived at after a thorough exploration process. While some of our patients may decide not to pursue physical treatment or drop out of treatment, the experience of regret described here is rarely seen,” the spokesperson said. 

As highlighted by Sky News, questioning gender transition, even within young people, has been largely castigated as “transphobic” rhetoric. Still, folks like Evans and Ruby who regret their transition are resisting pressures to keep quiet. 

And there are more. In 2016, PJ Media ran a piece on two young people, both female, speaking out against transitions of children and young people. One of the women detailed  irrevocable physical harm she had undergone in the process of her own now-regrettable gender transitions.

“I am a real, live 22-year-old woman, with a scarred chest and a broken voice, and five o’clock shadow because I couldn’t face the idea of growing up to be a woman, that’s my reality,” Cari Stella revealed in a YouTube video. As noted by PJ Media, Stella “objected to transgender journalist Julia Serano’s insistence on calling her ‘transgender.’”

“Gender was done to me,” Stella continued, “gender was traumatizing to me, I don’t want anything to do with it anymore.”

“When I was transitioning, I felt a strong desire — what I would have called a ‘need’ at the time — to transition,” she explained, though the transition would eventually have what she underscored were harmful effects. “It can be damn hard to figure out that the treatment you’re being told is to help you is actually making your mental health worse. Testosterone made me even more dissociated than I already was.” 

Another young woman who has decided to detransition after identifying as male, Carey Callahan, voiced frustration with the transgender journalist for “erasing” her lived experience. 

“If self-definition is a human right, I don’t know how much louder we can shout to the world we’re not trans,” she said. “And for me, if you say that I’m on the transgender spectrum, what you’re doing is you’re erasing everything I’m telling you about my life and my story.”

“I had trauma that led to me disassociating from my female body, and … the longer I chased that disassociation — the more I asked people to call me special pronouns, the more I tried to change my body, the more I ensconced myself in a community that would affirm a trans identity, the worse I felt,” Callahan explained. 

“It’s a central story in my life, and you’re erasing it to make me fit into your ideology,” she added. “Your set of ideas of how the world works is not worth acting like I don’t exist, or acting like you get to define my gender for me. No, that’s not how that works. I’m a real person, and you have to deal with my existence.”

By  Amanda Prestigiacomo