By Peter Klein
“History is written by victors” is a quote attributed to Winston Churchill. It may ring of truth, but Churchill never said it. Someone somewhere, at some time faked a little history. History overall is sometimes more, and sometimes less fake. Just how much of history is propaganda or outright fiction?
In the following article, I argue that history should be taken with a grain of salt. You should be the curator of your own concept of history. We need to do this as a society, or become further engrossed in myths and deceptions.
Who Writes History?
What we call the historical record is largely derived from written documents and oral accounts. How factual those documents and accounts are, is difficult to say. But history is less a record of facts as it is an ongoing discourse. Modern historians are involved in the ongoing production of this discourse. They validate and invalidate sources over time.
But Americans don’t form their concept of history through primary sources and official records. Instead, it’s assembled through exposure to a variety of sources; stories told by their parents, church leaders, elementary school textbooks, films and television programs.
For the average American, once they form a basic concept of history, news and entertainment media take over to fill in the gaps. A teeny few will go on to become historians. Maybe others will take an interest in an historical figure or event, and dig deeper. For most, history will be a patchwork of snippets taken from news media, films or the occasional documentary.
Where there is power, there is a need for narrative control — that’s code for fake. The powerful play a high stakes game of constructing information systems to suit their interests — inventing or suppressing history to produce an experience of the world.
History is No Guarantee of Accuracy
The son of Pablo Escobar wrote a book detailing his father’s cocaine business partnership with the CIA, but we aren’t supposed to know that. The media has said nary a peep about it. However, since the 1980s America has been indoctrinated into the “war on drugs,” which we are most definitely supposed to know about. These two versions of history are diametric, to an extent cancelling each other out. So which is it? Presumably, the US government wishes to keep its history of illicit drug dealing a secret. Therefore, the war on drugs is the simple answer, the simple truth; the fake truth.
Let’s go back a little further. Why was their a second world war? The leading theme generally blames Hitler’s ambition to conquer the world. That is not a vague concept, ruling the world, or merely dominating it.
When I looked for evidence to support this theme, I found nothing official, and little else one could use to come to such a belief. Instead, I found evidence that Germany was isolationist, seeking autonomy. I learned that, in the lead up to World War II they authored nine peace accords that fell on deaf ears. I acknowledge that Germany was breaking from the, assumed to be reasonable peace accords and the, assumed to be acceptable terms of the Versailles Treaty. How, then did that amplify to become a zeal to take over the world? It may be merely propaganda to blame Germany for the war.
Some historical revisionists have theorized that Hitler was a form of controlled opposition. They suggest that Hitler may have been groomed and ushered into power, a puppet figurehead. Others think that Hitler was authentically pursuing German interests and the betterment of German society.
The popular established history strongly promotes Hitler and the “Nazi” government as an evil, almost unparalleled force of death and destruction. Just a drop of objectivity reveals that to be an extreme exaggeration. Hitler is an interesting character to consider given this predisposed view, and relating to another phenomenon, lineage.
The Enigmatic Origins of Obama
In the early 20th century my great grandparents, Julius and Marion migrated to America from Lithuania. Their surname was Klement. For reasons unknown to me, they changed their name to Klein. That was at a time when birth records were far less centralized. Many children were born in the home and it was typical for the church to maintain birth records.
This calls to mind the controversy over Barack Obama’s citizenship. The popular alternative theory is that he was born in Kenya and his American birth record was forged. I suspect that Obama was born in Hawaii, just not in a hospital. It’s very possible his father is prominent communist agitator, Frank Marshall Davis. Obama certainly looks nothing like the Kenyan man he claims as his father. Were it known he was the son of Davis, ‘bye bye’ US presidency. So, I think the birth record was forged wherever he was born.
Here we have three examples of how identity isn’t always so clear cut. Hitler is thought by some to have a suspicious lineage. My relatives changed their surname when they migrated to America, for reasons unknown. And Obama’s father may not be who they say he is.
In modern America, I can pay a small administrative fee and change my name to whatever I wish. However, I wouldn’t be creating a new identity as public records of my birth name would remain connected to mine. But there are Americans that have become entirely new persons, totally separate from their former identities.
When a CIA operative enters the field, they are sometimes assigned a new identity. Because of the sometimes dangerous nature of their work, these identities need to be perfectly authentic. Imagine attempting to infiltrate an organized crime ring where ruthless retribution wasn’t uncommon. It’s highly likely they would investigate the background of any new face. The operative’s credentials would need to be at least as authentic as yours or mine.
So, it is well established, that official documents are no assurance that someone is who they claim to be or that they weren’t someone else before.
Let’s return to Obama for a moment. It’s possible that the record of his father’s identity has been manipulated. What about his mother? His mother is recorded as Stanley Ann Dunham. If the unusual aspect of his father’s identity is that he looks nothing like Obama, what aspect of Obama’s mother’s identity is unusual? Stanley is a name rarely used for women. However, men’s first names are sometimes derived from surnames. Could Obama’s mother’s name actually be, Ann Stanley Dunham? Making a change that subtle would require much less record manipulation.
Whether her first and middle names were switched or her first name IS Stanley and is derived from a relative’s surname, she may be from the Stanley peerage. Deferring to the work of Miles W. Mathis, I find the possibility that Obama’s mother is related to the Liverpool England Stanleys. If true, what are the odds that other well-known historical figures also descend from the Liverpool Stanleys? The Beatles are Liverpool’s most famous product. And John Lennon’s mother’s name is Julia Stanley, whom Mathis has connected to the same Stanleys as Obama’s mother.
Strange Relations throughout History
Now, the following may require you to suspend disbelief just long enough to consider the greater implications. Whether this specific example is entirely accurate or not isn’t really that important, as countless similar examples exist to support the larger contention. This example brings us around to Adolph Hitler again.
I was met with dead ends very quickly when attempting to establish my family’s genealogical record. I wonder though, had I not would I have uncovered famous historical figures in our lineage? It seems unlikely. So, how likely is it that Adolph Hitler is related to both John Lennon and Barack Obama? Regardless, this appears to be a distinct possibility.
Here are the high points, without going into the painstaking details that led to making these connections. We’ve already introduced the Stanley family of Liverpool England. The Chadwick family, already connected to Adolph Hitler had reportedly lived in the old Stanley manor outside of Liverpool. The Chadwicks married into the Booth family, as in John Wilkes Booth. They are also related to the Macartneys, as in Paul McCartney. You see here an example of a very common practice; altering a name’s spelling. This is how you wind up with the surnames, Klein, Kleine, Kline and Cline. Despite the different spelling, they are all related.
The Chadwicks then married with the Hillers, later resulting in a Stanley Hiller. In those same years, Adolph Hitler’s brother Alois was living in Liverpool and whose son changed his last name to Stuart-Houston. Later, when the Hitler name was considered untenable the Liverpool Hitlers changed their name to Hiller. Miles W. Mathis connects Adolph Hitler to the Chadwick family and Stanley family. It’s the Stanley family connection that raises other interesting possibilities.
Going back to 1385, John Stanley married Isabel Lathom. The Lathoms, at the time owned large parts of Lancashire. The Stanleys later build Lathom House in 1496. With 18 towers, the castle was so strong it acted as the last stronghold of the Loyalists in the English Civil War. William Stanley is later dubbed the 6th Earl of Derby, being the grandson of King Henry VII. His mother Margaret was in line to be Queen, but died before Elisabeth I.
Mathis makes a good case for the historical record of William Stanley (6th Earl) being a fabrication; being a fake. What’s most interesting to me, because Stanley’s life story propaganda was cooked up so long ago many modern day historians concede that it’s probably hogwash. That constitutes historical revisionism. But you aren’t likely to find much talk of it from these historians or the media.
The Persistence of Myths
Publish too many things that challenge the record and you get labeled a Revisionist, a deliberately dirty word. The forces at work maintaining history within certain parameters are very entrenched. Imagine how unlikely it is that the truth behind some prominent historic figure or event could ever replace the existing version.
The bigger the truth behind a historical fiction, the greater the reluctance and resistance to relinquish it.
A good example of this is the JFK assassination. The official record still holds to the lone gunman account. Countless alternative theories, books and a public that almost universally doubts the official account are no match for the main-stream media. They are the most stalwart and effective at promoting and creating fake history.
We were told... the Civil War was about slavery. George Washington chopped down the cherry tree. Columbus discovered America. Napoleon was short.
At what point did the above claims become widely accepted as fallacies? I think it’s safe to assume it didn’t happen overnight. Some of you reading this now may still think Napoleon Bonaparte was short. At 5’7”, he was slightly taller than Frenchmen of his time.
Artificial History Doesn’t Happen by Accident
We’ve already identified history as an ongoing discourse. Because countless thousands take part in that open discourse, it’s uncommon for people to successfully conspire to alter the historical record. Uncommon, but not impossible. We remain, in large part a high trust society. Our nature is to trust authority, even anonymous authority. When the conspirators are backed into a corner, there’s no story too ludicrous for the majority of Americans to accept.
In criminal law, a conspiracy is just an agreement by two or more individuals to commit a crime. If falsifying history isn’t itself a crime, might it be a very convenient way to conceal a crime or protect the perpetrators?
Take the USS Liberty incident for example. The official record and vast majority of media reports still describe it as a horrible accident. But much evidence and the government’s continued secrecy seem to indicate otherwise. If true, a conspiracy has kept a lid on the truth for over 50 years. But that’s a single example of what is quite possibly a simple cover up. Some describe it as obvious to them. And much of the historical record, in the case of the Liberty incident is controlled by only a few authoritative bodies. What about an example where the conspiracy is more nebulous?
The Source & Dimension of Fake History
In 2012, 12-year-old BridgeAnne d’Avignon of California showed that all but one US President is related. With help from her genealogist grandfather, the 7th grader linked 42 Presidents to one common ancestor, King John ‘Lackland’ Plantagenet of England. Yes, that King John; the one who signed the Magna Carta and was the model villain for the Robin Hood legends.
I remember when this story first broke. Some with a conspiracist ideology were fast to suggest this was proof that our presidents have been selected based on lineage. Others suggested it supported their theory that the candidate with the most royal blood always wins. At the time, some of those theories piqued my curiosity, I admit. Then I considered how wide a net 800 years of generations could create. For comparison, it’s commonly estimated that as many as 16 million people alive today are descended from Genghis Khan. Maybe being related to historical figures isn’t as rare as one might think.
Maybe if I were a genealogist I would know how common or uncommon these relationships are. To me, it seems next to impossible to gauge with any degree of accuracy. But something said in a comment thread resonated with me. To paraphrase, it read,
“Trace your lineage back 800 years to some king or equally notable person, and get back to me. Then do the same for 41 of your friends or coworkers.”
I’m not suggesting that a conspiracy exists where only descendents of King John are allowed to become US President. There is Martin Van Buren to account for after all. Not to mention Donald Trump. But I am suggesting that this common Presidential lineage is unusual. How does a direct descendent of an English king become a presidential candidate? What myriad of circumstances and events might be conducive to such a fate, defying the odds? How does this have anything to do with the accuracy of the historical record?
It’s precisely these more subtle mysteries of history that give me an uneasy feeling. It feels like I have unknown friends in the distant past, and unknown enemies in the present; a satisfying understanding of things that can only be found at some long ago intersection, and discomforting disinformation presented as truth in the present.