Cultural Appropriation

I have been reading Polybius’ histories lately – these are in many ways centered on the Punic Wars (which were a defining conflict of the day), and thus on the illustrious Barca family: Hamilcar Barca, his son Hannibal and Hannibal’s brothers (Hasdrubal and Mago). Now, what can we tell about these people: The word Barca is the same semitic word as Barak. Hamilcar means “brother of Melqart”, the latter being the patron god of Tyre (the word is again Semitic, and composed of Melekh (king) and qart (which still means City in Hebrew).
. The word for brother is exactly the same as the modern Hebrew word.  The word Hannibal means “Grace of Ba’al” (the word Ba’al still meaning “master” in Hebrew to this day). Hannibal’s name would be Yohanan (so, John) in Hebrew – “Yo” (for Yahweh) replaces “Ba’al” , the rest of the name is the same. Hasdrubal is the mangling of AzruBa’al (God Helps), which is the exact analog of Azariah (with Ya again replacing Ba’al – another cognate is Ezra). Finally,  Mago means the same as Matisyahu (Matthew) – God’s gift. The also sound similar. Let us now look at the pictures of some of these gentlemen (Mago’s countenance seems to not have been preserved for posterity). It appears that Hannibal, Hasdrubal, and their dad were immortalized in coinage, as follows. First, Hamilcar:

Dishekel_hispano-cartaginés-2

Now, Hasdrubal:

Hasdrubal_coin

And finally, Hannibal:

Carthage,_quarter_shekel,_237-209_BC,_SNG_BM_Spain_102

All of these gentlemen look like close relatives – Hamilcar and Hasdrubal look like my granfather Израиль Борисович (Israel ben Baruch), Hannibal like my cousin Daniel. I am sure any other Jew reading this can find similar resemblances, while any anti-semite will find a close resemblance between the schnozzes of the Barcas and those of the caricatured money-grubbing Jews.

Interestingly, the resemblance does not end at the Schnozz. It seems that, apart from the general staff, the Carthaginians outsourced their fighting to Numidians (Berbers), Spaniards, Celts, and other such, preferring to concentrate on business themselves. This did not work out in the end, because the completely unwarlike denizens of Carthage itself were easy prey for the Romans (this was their undoing in all three Punic Wars). Interestingly, this methodology was used  by Jews, off-and-on for two millenia, with variable success (the most famous, though not the most important, being the Jewish leadership of the Khazars).

You would think that at this point it will be clear that the Carthaginians (and in particular the family of Hannibal) were a Semitic people, culturally close to their cousins the Jews (this may, perhaps, explain why the Romans took their struggles against the Jews two-to-three centuries later so seriously).

But no. There seems to be a bizarre appropriationist streak trying to claim Hannibal was a Mandingo warrior.

Another reference, in addition to strange ethnological claims (about which see below) flying in the face of all evidence, points out that there is not one but two movies coming out about Hannibal, one starring Denzel Washington, another Vin Diesel.  Neither of these gentlemen bear any ethnic resemblance to the Barcas whatever (this, in addition to the other minor detail that Hannibal was in his late twenties at the beginning of the second punic war, so some forty years younger than Washington, and about thirty years younger than Diesel. But we will let that slide, because, well, acting. Anyway, this continued attempt to steal other people’s history is about the most pathetic display of racial insecurity I have seen…

Ethnological claims This claims that Phoenicians (and Canaanites in general) were black negroid people. This claim stems from the biblical story of Noah, where Canaan is a son of Ham. However, the Bible at no point claims that Ham was black, and his blackness was a much later uneducated invention (designed to justify black slavery). For more on this (and the Caucasian aspect of the Hamites) see the ever-trusty Wikipedia.

Whither Sarah Jeong?

In the last several days there has been considerable hue and cry about the vile racism of Sarah Jeong – a new hire at the New York TImes. The egregious aspect of the case has not been so much Ms Jeong’s overt racism, but the New York Times’ bizarre decision to dig in its heels, and not reverse the hire. This was loudly praised by the left, and decried by the conservatives as hypocrisy (given the recent defenestration of Roseanne Barr.)

Now, it is the opinion of this author that “racism” is an invented (and pernicious) concept. In the entire corpus of Greek and Roman history,  skin colour is never mentioned.  What is mentioned frequently (and continued to be so for two thousand years) was national identity. There was no “White Race”, there were Romans, Greeks, Medes, Lydians, Kurds, Numidians, etc, etc. (note that Plutarch [or Gibbon, for that matter]) never mentions the skin pigmentation of the Numidians, or of the Carthaginians (the former were Berber, the latter Canaanite).. Later, there was a millennium of chaos, out of which emerged the Italians, the English, the Germans, the French, the Turks, and so on. Skin colour was never even mentioned until the Democratic Party in the USA used it to disingenuously justify why slavery was compatible with the US constitution (read Dinesh D’Souza’s book). Even so, the idea never caught on elsewhere, until post-WWI Germany (when Hitler attempted to justify his theory of German exceptionality by making the Germans into a separate biological race [to which he himself visibly did not belong, but that’s another story]), and thus unleashed three quarters of identity politics upon us.

That said, are “White People” a myth? No. Just as in the twentieth century there was only one World War (despite being separated in WWI and WWII), the “White People” are the Romans, and we are living in the sequel to the Roman Empire.  In the original version, Romans conquered by the sword, but later, the instruments of conquest became quite diverse – they included the sword, but also science, art, philosophy, and so on. The Europeans (the latter-day Romans) created this civilization and dragged the rest of the world (often kicking and screaming into it. The rest of the world includes the East Asians (who  had stagnated for two millennia before the Europeans appeared on the scene), the Africans (who still live in what President Trump correctly characterized as “shitholes”), the West Asians (who stagnated for only one thousand years under Islam and the Ottoman rule), the Jews (who, while in Europe were not of it – those who see the spectacular intellectual accomplishments of the Jews, forget that the only Jews anyone had heard about in a non-religious context were Spinoza and Josephus, and the latter was a Roman general – it is the melding of Jews’ national talents with the European culture that created the explosion of intellectual accomplishments), the natives of America, and others. These various people, while benefitting greatly the new Roman Empire, are resentful – they are not driving the train, they are but passengers, and so the lack of control and the perceived lack of respect engenders not entirely positive feelings, and a desire to show that they, too, are important. The resentment is very much tinged with envy.  Like children, though, the likes of Ms Jeong (see, we were going to come around to her), as well as Black Lives Matter and other identarian organizations believe that they can do it by throwing a tantrum (or worse – destroying the dominant civilization). This does not engender respect. At least not in this author.

Monty Python summarized it rather well in the famous scene from “The Life of Brian”.