Hard Knowledge


There is another story in the news about a mammoth. The large elephant-like creature was found with what seem to be stone tools and evidence of being butchered. As far as I know, humans are the only creatures which butcher with tools. My entire life we have known that the extinction on the North American mega fauna corresponded to the arrival of humans. And as the uncertainties in dating have grown smaller, the correspondence has persisted.

Our timidity seems to be caused by shame. If we can find another reason, we can avoid guilt. People are desperate to find another cause than humans for the demise of mammoths, gompotheres, the American horses,…. The list goes on. Such contributing factors will be found. There is always serious stress. Thus happens evolution. Especially in glaciations. But humans seem to be the proximate cause.

Last week the New York City Council voted to honor and express faith in Ethel Rosenberg.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer was joined by three city-council members earlier this week in issuing proclamations honoring Rosenberg for “demonstrating great bravery.” They also affirmed their belief — in spite of heavy evidence to the contrary — that she was wrongfully executed for her role in the Soviet spy ring dedicated to stealing information about the U.S. atomic-bomb program in order to give Stalin et al. another weapon in their battery of terror.

This seems to be an effort of socialists to deny guilt in supporting totalitarians. In the fifties an honest person could question the Rosenberg’s guilt. Much of the information was classified. But since the 1980’s the truth has been available. The Venona transcripts show both the Rosenberg’s code names and discussion on the part of the Soviet Premier about their value. The Venona papers have been declassified for over two decades now. Also, there was evidence from the KGB archives while they were accessible.

Such ignorance is willful. There are, however, still many people around who fought boldly for their innocence. It is a hard thing to admit to great and total folly in favor of a totalitarian dictatorship.

[ If you don’t know of Venona, it is a great tale of spies, betrayal, and amazing cleverness. I recommend ‘Spycatcher’ by Peter Wright. Also, I will give an attaboy to the first person who knows what ‘venona’ means.]

I set up a small list of things people squirm not to admit. Alas, it would go to book length. One more.

The very notion of a tophet is reprehensible to the modern mind. There is considerable evidence that the northern Semitic peoples practiced ritual child sacrifice by burning alive. Such places were called tophets after a particular one near Jerusalem which the prophets excoriated. We have descriptions from the Levant, to Carthage to Spain over many centuries. It is like something from a bad horror film. We even have a copycat method of execution in Greece called ‘the Brazen Bull’ that was improved. There was an episode in the life of Hannibal where his father held Hannibal over the burning idol of Moloch until he swore eternal hatred to Rome. It seems to have worked.

There are many who go to great lengths to deny this. I understand. There are things we would much rather were not true. This is the same motive that causes certain national socialists to deny that Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all the others were executed in the death camps. They even come up with math to prove it was impossible. This is intelligence in opposition to wisdom.

It is understandable for a child to close his eyes and deny something unpleasant. It is however foolish. In such ways is wisdom retarded and evil allowed to grow.