Close encounters of the racist kind | Southern Poverty Law Center

Close encounters of the racist kind | Southern Poverty Law Center

In the early 1890s, the U.S. ethnologist Cyrus Vance discredited the theory in a series published by the Smithsonian Institution. But the idea of a pre-Colombian “white genocide” never disappeared. It survived in subcultures, influenced by the occult and Atlantis legends, which clung to theories of lost ancient super-civilizations that, curiously, always seemed to be racially “white.”

In recent decades, as evidence of a richer paleoamerican record than previously realized has come to light, Jackson’s “once-powerful race” has found a new generation of boosters on the far right, where fantasies of “white genocide” distantly past and currently unfolding are an animating obsession.

In the fractured and constantly cross-fertilizing galaxy of extremist conspiracy culture, the white Moundbuilders — now known on the far right as “the Solutreans” — share a stage with other characters from an ancient and racially glorious but “suppressed” past: ancient Nordic-looking astronauts, biblical Aryan giants, Nazi scientists under the South Pole, and the occasional inter-dimensional alien in league with the Jews.

The basic tenets of alt-archeology and alt-history were foundational to the ideology and program of National Socialism, but the Nazis did not invent them. The Nazi belief in a pure Aryan race with a glorious ancient past and distinct genetic history was central to a transatlantic nineteenth-century occult scene (that featured a heavy German influence.) After Hitler assumed power, this belief was institutionalized in the form of the Ancestral Heritage and Teaching Society, or the Ahnenerbe, an alt-archeology research outfit founded by Heinrich Himmler and the Atlantis theorist Herman Wirth.

In recent years, Graham Hancock has repackaged Ancient Astronaut Theory for a new generation in his bestselling Fingerprints of the Gods, and through steady work as a History Channel talking head.

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