By Bob Zhermuther-Zpruther
(second cousin of Robert Zherunkel)
Jews don’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah;
Protestants don’t recognize the Pope;
And Baptists don’t recognize each other at the liquor store.
—dumb old joke that makes me chuckle every time.
The less that is known about something, the more there can be to say about it. It is for this reason that religious conflicts can be so intense: there are often no actual facts of the matter to consider. There are only untestable hypotheses, baseless presuppositions, unverifiable stories, conjectures, fantasies, and speculations.
Human beings are uncomfortable with the uncertainty of not knowing; they would prefer anything to fill in the gaps of their knowledge, rather than allowing the blanks to stay blank. (With the previous sentence, I just explained the appeal of 90% of the conspiracy literature on the Internet.)
Certain ideas gain traction just because there is so little data in play. Which means supporting evidence for your hypothesis is slim. But also means that the ammunition for a clear rebuttal is absent as well. For such ideas, amazing intellectual houses of cards can be built, piling one unsupported conjecture on top of another to form a (seemingly) erudite megatheory.
Frequently the cornerstones for house-of-cards megatheories are parallelomania and hyperdiffusionism: these are, respectively, the insistence that vaguely similar things are in fact one and the same thing, and the insistence that vaguely similar things come necessarily from a single common source and do not arise independently. Parallelomania and hyperdiffusionism are, for example, the stock-in-trade of the New Chronology schtick, along with cherry-picked data. Such theories have any plausibility among the average reader only because he doesn’t know all there is that he doesn’t know, and so has no inkling of the profusion of counter-evidence that is being swept under the rug. Nor is he aware that mere conjectures are being touted as certainties.
As one sifts through the alternative history and conspiracy theories on the Web, one quickly figures out that many of the offerings are intentional disinformation: lies lacquered with a pseudo-scholarly sheen. Whoever is behind the masquerade of current events is also trying to cover their tracks by hiring Internet shills to send us off in a hundred false directions to keep us from figuring it out. There are megatheories that pin the blame on the Jesuits, the Freemasons, the Mormons, the Vatican, the City of London, the Illuminati, etc. Always, the less one knows about a suspect, the more convincing a case can be built against him in the eyes of the unwitting.
I thought I knew my way around the modern conspiracyverse. Imagine my shock when I discovered that there was another name on the list of usual suspects that I had never considered before. Imagine if the Elites who run the world, the Point-Zero-One-Percenters, the Cryptic Cabal were in fact: Phoenicians!
Where did I learn this? From reading articles by David Icke (of the reptilian alien claims) and Michael Tsarion (of the alien~Atlantean~occultist claims). I need not provide links. You can merely Google their names along with the word “Phoenicians” to get their takes on the idea that the modern Elites are descendants of the ancient Phoenicians, who ran the world back in the first and second millennia Before Christ, and since Roman times have been pulling the strings clandestinely through proxies and puppets.
I wish to note a few things here:
- For reasons independent of the Phoenician Elites Hypothesis (PEH), it is obvious that Icke and Tsarion are bullshit artists, promoted into a higher level of public awareness than their publications deserve on their own merits. They are likely agents of the very force they pretend to be uncovering.
- These men first published their ideas on the Phoenician hidden hegemony years ago: Icke’s book The Biggest Secret came out first in 1999. Tsarion’s articles date from 2012 and may go back another decade. (It is not worth the time or indigestion to sift through his droppings for an exact date.)
- The seed of these ideas could very well have been recycled from R. Buckminster Fuller’s 1981 book Critical Path, in which he identifies the Phoenicians with the Vikings and Venetians. Icke and Tsarion do not seem to credit Fuller with the idea, … nor do they seem aware of each other’s ruminations.
- These men all beg the very question that they pretend to answer about Phoenician identity.
- The appeal of the PEH must lie to some extent in the way it allows its proponents to maintain a measure of their usual anti-Semitism, but in a form that is not as obviously repugnant to reason and morality as their customary Jew-hating.
So here’s their claim in general: there was an ancient race that mastered sailing, invented trade, and built an empire that stretched throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, possibly to the British Isles and even to America; they have never truly gone away, but simply used their amassed resources to fade into the wallpaper as they continued to run the world. This race was named by others after the purple dyestuff they developed from seashells, but those we know as “Phoenicians” called themselves something different.
Is it true?
Were the Phoenicians of ancient literature a race of merchant people? It is not so clear. In her book In Search of the Phoenicians, Josephine Quinn insists that no Phoenician ethnicity ever existed. There was a league of cities in the ancient world that cooperated in dominating sea-trade; these cities used a West Semitic language for mutual communication. However, there is no evidence that these city-states, like Tyre, Sidon, Carthage, etc. were inhabited by people of the same race or ethnicity; nor any evidence that they had any sense of solidarity among themselves as being one and the same people; nor any evidence that they even had a word for their confederation, but only were known by their individual cities: Tyrians, Sidonians, Carthaginians, etc. Sort of like an ancient Hanseatic League of the Mediterranean Sea. They left no literature. They worshiped no common god (except those worshiped also by non-Phoenicians as well).
Quinn says that: “‘Phoenician’ was just a generic label invented by ancient Greek authors for Levantine sailors” and “the Latin words for ‘Phoenician’—poenus and punicus—were often used to mean ‘North African’ in general.” The idea of Phoenician ethnicity was not developed until the late 19th century, after which it was used to buttress the notion of an ancient Lebanese nationality, in hopes of giving a sense of historical cohesion to the nation of Lebanon. When we speak of the Phoenicians as a nation or a race, we are retrojecting notions back on them that they themselves never seemed to have. It would be like someone looking back at the Christians of the 2nd century and presuming them to be a distinct ethnicity, just because they shared worship practices and used Koiné Greek for mutual communication. Or it would be like someone thinking that all Muslims are Arabs. Or that all people who speak Arabic are the same ethnicity. It is the confusion of a single catch-all label with homogeneity.
What is this Phoenician identity that the ruling Elites have in common? Based on the available textual and archaeological evidence: nothing. Which means that there can be LOTS to say about it. Because that’s how it works. The less that is known, the more room there is for conjecture, speculation, and parallelomania to run amok. For Icke and Tsarion, it means book sales and website hits.
And this has to be the reason that fringe authors keep going back to the well of Phoenicianism: just because there is so little to worry about in terms of contrary evidence. The Phoenicians are the Play-Doh of the ancient world. You can mold them into any image you want. Icke and Tsarion are disinfo agents. Their appeal to Phoenician elites is a cynical tactic of misdirection. One can plant a red flag wherever the idea appears.
Yesterday I came across a more recent incarnation of the Phoenician ploy. It was on a website called Stolen History. Here the author (in posts dating from July 7, 2018) builds the same basic conjectural house of cards, but the argument is refined by removing the claims that Phoenicians were an ethnic group. The author MythstifieD says instead: “These people are not linked by race, but by ideology and symbols.” That is, by an ideology of which we know very little about (and so can speculate freely) and by symbols for which it is easy to cast around and find parallels everywhere. Just as long as we choose not to believe that certain symbols might arise independently in multiple places. (Geez, ….why would more than one culture use a bird for a symbol? Or a hand?!? )
It is very curious to me that the MythstifieD gives no real credit to Icke or Tsarion for their earlier expositions of similar ideas. Surely this person came across these names in the course of Googling for images. I know that it took me less than a minute to discover the prior publications. In fact, the anonymous author gives no credit to anyone else for his/her ideas. It is as if we were meant to understand that this person came up with the Phoenician hypothesis all alone. Is that likely?
Not only so, but now in posts dating from July 17–August 6, 2018, yet another author named Gerry has been putting up a series of articles on mileswmathis.com. These articles trot out the PEH once more, but Gerry goes reverts to the idea that the Phoenicians were/are all members of a Semitic ethnic group (and that they are thus able to blend in with other Semitic peoples like the Jews, and that they do so in order to divert attention and blame from themselves and onto the Jews).
Gerry’s articles are just like the Stolen History posts: they fail to mention the priority of Icke and Tsarion for the PEH—if only for the purpose of distancing his work from theirs. (Even though only a modest amount of Googling turns up those names, and it is clear that Gerry gets a lot of his data from Google.) Gerry’s thesis is built on alleged puns in the Hebrew Bible, cross-linguistic similarities in names, and parallelisms in art. But the point of this piece is not to untangle Gerry’s knotty argumentation. It is simply to point out the oddness of this situation. Why are the advocates of the PEH so steadfastly refusing to acknowledge one another? They are like Baptists at the liquor store, staring at their shoes while they shuffle around the shelves to choose their booze.
And then a Phoeny thing happened on the way to the webforum as well … Over at the public comment zone for the MMC, cuttingthroughthefog.com, there is a spirited affirmation of Gerry’s version of the PEH, rising to around 1300 postings. For all the pitching in and piling on going on over there, not a single commenter has stumbled on the Icke/Tsarion antecedence. Or if they did, they remain mute as a fencepost about it. Instead, they have invested fully in the Phoenician Elites Hypothesis lock, stock, and barrel; and they have adopted the pet name “Phoenies” for the putative Semitic elites whose invisible hands manage the world. It is a remarkable display of unanimity. One of the commenters DID stumble across Josephine Quinn and her arguments against Phoenician identity: her ideas are dismissed without being engaged in the least, and she is labeled a gatekeeper. Because—obviously—no reasoned or scholarly disagreement with the MMC is possible, and anyone who takes issue with their pronouncements must be on the payroll of the Elites.
* * *
Cato the Elder is reputed to have ended every oration with a call to exterminate the Phoenician city which had been Rome’s adversary and rival: “Carthage must be destroyed!” Down through the ages the Latin phrase has lived on as a testament to hatred and inhumanity: Carthago delenda est! It is said that the Romans under Scipio, after razing the city, sowed the soil with salt to prevent it from being settled ever again.
Now Icke and Tsarion and other authors are trying to tell us that a Carthaginian race—like Alexander the Great in the mind of the mermaid—lives and reigns and conquers the cosmos. Carthage has not been destroyed, they say, but is behind every dark scheme on the planet.
To this I say: I hope Scipio left some salt for the rest of us. We’re going to need a few grains to take with the Phoenician Elites Hypothesis. It smacks too much of the same old warmed-over disinfo bullshit.