Fake news about stealing history
By Aleksandar Krzhallovski
Lacking new moments in the Racket case, which tends to continue in the good old style “every miracle last only three days” or as the Serbs would say “much ado about nothing”, last week the public was agitated by a government announcement to combat the fake news and, earlier, the relatively unfortunate statement of the prime minister on a Greek television – about our alleged appropriation (stealing) of neighbors’ history.
It will be the subject of this column as well, but not in terms of the usual daily political feuds, but in a looser context in the spirit of summer holidays, with a bit of history, a bit of geography and archeology, and a lot of fake news.
It is a well-known phrase that history is written by the victors. And most of the things that we either know or are generally accepted as such, are in large part interpretations of contemporaries on the victorious side of those events. I have always been a fan of history, from elementary school to the present day, often following the Viasat History TV channel, which I warmly recommend. Their main current ad says “there’s a version of history we all know…and another version – what really happened.” A powerful message, that even for perhaps the “purest” of historical events, there are elements that are not completely clear, not sufficiently researched, or simply that there is no one to tell the “other side of the story” or enough documents/evidence to establish what really happened.
One of the practices of the television is to confront opposing opinions on particularly controversial topics or developments and to try to give views from multiple angles and understandings, with enough room and argument for everyone involved, to eventually try to draw a conclusion what the truth was (and what the fake news was) – where this can be backed up by solid evidence or concluding that there is not enough evidence to claim what exactly happened.
One such theme these days has been the “landing on the moon” to mark the 50th anniversary of the event. And of course – the skepticism of supporters of conspiracy theories – that it didn’t happen at all. As an acquaintance of mine would say on Facebook: today we celebrate that 400,000 people involved in 6 false Moon landings have been quite about that for 50 years! The show probed in detail all the arguments of the “conspirators”, such as how come the American flag flies when there is no wind on the Moon; how come there was almost no dust upon the lunar module landing; why there are no stars in the pictures taken on the moon; how come the astronauts (and the cameras and films) did not “get burnt” of the radiation and solar winds from which there is no earth-like protection; to the question – if we could go there 50 years ago, why has no one done that to date with much better technology. For each of these (and other) allegations there were arguments why this was so, and in addition to lunar landing, it is stated that during the Cold War at the time between the US and the Soviet Union, in the “battle for space” the other side would certainly have found a way to dispute the achievement (and just as the United States have not disputed the USSR’s successes with the first Sputnik satellite and the first man in space – Gagarin, so the Russians have never disputed the Moon landing). And as it turns out at the end of the show – it was easier for NASA to really make a space number and send people to the moon than to make sure that not one of the nearly half a million people involved in that project would say anything about it if it really did not happen. But I believe that despite all the arguments and evidence, there will still be people who will think or believe that no one has stepped on the moon yet.
Another subject that is heavily researched is the Bible and everything related to the creation and development of Christianity, including the character and part of Jesus Christ. For example, why in most of his representations on frescoes and icons in churches he appears to be a tall man with a fair complexion, often with blue eyes and fair hair, when the logic (according to the typical inhabitants of that region at the time), and the forensic reconstructions shown in some of the shows on the TV channel suggest that he could not be more than 165 centimeters tall, and likely had black curly hair and black eyes, and a dark complexion. Special attention has lately been paid to Mary Magdalene and probably her larger and more important realistic role than acknowledged in Christian churches. Namely, she is mentioned only twice in the four Gospels that make up the New Testament (the second/last part of the Bible) and are officially recognized by the churches, but there is much more about her in the other four Gospels that are found much later and have never been recognized by well-established religious institutions. This originates from the 4th century and one of the then Popes, in the spirit of time and understanding that “this is a man’s world”, when “by mistake” she is identified with other two Marys of the Bible (one of whom is a prostitute, and n the stigma on that basis since then). But that is another topic, here I am just illustrating the victors’ thesis and the interpretation of history. And how much “fake news” or even how many fake interpretations of the same views are contained in perhaps the most significant historical books, which the identity of the whole of today’s civilization is drawn from.
But let’s go back to “earthly” themes closer to us. These days, an ancient sarcophagus has been dug up and buried quickly – probably not to blame anyone for antiquation. It reminded me a bit of my visit to Rome and the disappointment (after being impressed by the Colosseum) on the small part of the archaeological remains of ancient Rome (Fori Imperiali) – on an area about the size of Macedonia Square in Skopje. That section ends with the Capitoline Hill (which now houses museums designed by Michelangelo…in the Renaissance style, not in the ancient or neo-classical), and continues with the impressive neo-classical Altar of the Homeland (Altare della Patria) built from 1911-1935 (“Rome 1914”) and the monument to the first emperor of united Italy – Vittorio Emanuele II. A little digression – both the US Congress and the Senate are called the Capitol and have the same neo-classical style (as our new Archaeological Museum) so no one thinks of blaming them for any antiquation.
Why am I mentioning this? After the uproar over “our” sarcophagus, I tried to remember an ancient site or monument in Thessaloniki, Greece, in ancient Macedonia, right? And I had a hard time remembering anything. I searched the internet and found two major sites (I have not visited them): an antique theater/forum near the main Aristotelous Square; as well as something they call Gallery. Both are from the Roman period. I have also been to Pella (the Archaeological Museum) where it can be read that it was completed in 2009 (by the way with about 14 million EU funds), followed by the discovery (by a local farmer with a tractor) of the largest ancient tomb in the whole Greece. I mean…let alone we do not do anything similar to the discoveries on our territory, but I do not understand the need to “sprinkle with ashes” on anything and everything, including undisputed historical findings and facts.
Secondly, when I have already mentioned the first Italian king. If our neighbors have not accused us of anything so far, it is of appropriating their kings. I hope it will stay that way. I do not see that they too boast about their kings. Maybe because they themselves are not exactly “theirs”. The first emperor of Bulgaria in the modern era (the formation of the Bulgarian national state in 1878, after exiting the Ottoman Empire), was Alexander I Battenberg (born in Verona), and the second – Ferdinand was from the royal House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (born in Vienna). For the Greeks, the first king (1832) was the Bavarian Otto (born in Salzburg). The monarchy in Bulgaria lasted until 1946, and in Greece 1973. I do not know why we have not thought of stealing or appropriating from this history so far?
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