Monday, May 22, 2006

The History Of
Anti-Semitism And
The Da Vinci Code

Thanks to Mark Alexander, at A New Dark Age Is Dawning, for making me aware of this article about the latent anti-Semitism buried within the mythos of the Da Vinci Code:

WHY should a Jew care? Consider that the alleged conspiracy underlying the "biggest cover-up in human history" bears a remarkable resemblance to another phony conspiracy, the famous hoax called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Apparently authored by Russian monarchist and anti-Semite Mathieu Golovinski in 1898, the Protocols tells of a secret society of Jewish elders that works to keep gentiles ignorant of a plot to rule the world through "Darwinism, Marxism and Nietzscheism."

In both conspiracy theories, an ancient world religion turns out to be a massive fraud perpetrated to gain or maintain power. In Dan Brown's version, the "Priory of Sion" ("Sion" simply means "Zion" in French) is the good guys. They've been waiting for the right moment to reveal the secret about Jesus having children and to introduce the world to the worship of the "Goddess," a.k.a. Mary Magdalene.

Meanwhile the Catholic Church plots to suppress forever the truth about the "sacred feminine." Opus Dei is willing to go to any lengths, including murder, to keep the male church hierarchy in power.

Pierre Plantard (1920-2000), the French monarchist and anti-Semite who gave us the "Priory of Sion," spent much of his life inventing minuscule esoteric organizations intended to "purify" France of the evil influences of modernity - and of Judaism. In 1940 he wrote of the "terrible Masonic and Jewish conspiracy" that threatened France.

The Priory of Sion was one group he started. The point of this occult order was to advance Plantard's claim to be the surviving heir of the ancient Merovingian line of French kings, whose "holy blood" was guarded by the Priory. The idea that the Merovingians were the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was added on later.

Besides highlighting the word "Zion" or "Sion," the two conspiracy theories share an understanding of how to deal with ideas you disagree with. Rather than taking traditional Christian beliefs at face value and arguing against them (as I do in my current book, by the way), Dan Brown portrays the religion itself as resting upon a conscious deception. That excuses him from having to make arguments at all.

Anti-Semites do the same thing. Rather than coming out honestly against Darwinism or Marxism or modernity in general, they concoct a story about Judaism as a lie and a conspiracy. The Protocols remains a global phenomenon of staggering popularity, especially in the Arab world.

I emphasize that Dan Brown never intended to foment bigotry. Yet to the cause of conspiracy theorizing, he has done a wonderful favor, training his readers in the habits of paranoia and gullibility. For people committed to finding the truth through investigation and argumentation, that's depressing.

As for Jews, we haven't fared well when the culture we live in turns to entertaining fantasies and delusions at the expense of an unfashionable religion. The success of his book, now transformed into a movie blockbuster, is bad news indeed.

Scratch any conspiracy theorist, and it is almost certain, you will find anti-Semitism lurking somehwere underneath.