An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia
Exhibit 69: WND's Arch of Fake News, Part 2
WorldNetDaily is still weirdly taking the side of ISIS on the destruction of priceless antiquities, and it's maliciously accusing those who try to reconstruct the destroyed artifacts of promoting pagan religions.
By Terry Krepel
Last year, ConWebWatch documented how WorldNetDaily was effectively endorsing the policy of terrorist group ISIS of destroying priceless antiquities -- specifically, the arch to the Temple of Palmyra in Syria -- in the name of religion (in ISIS' case radical Islamism; in WND's case, right-wing Christianity) and smearing those trying to reconstruct them as trying to resurrect paganism.
WND never stopped doing that, and it has smeared others trying to reconstruct ISIS-destroyed artifacts.
It has kept on cheering the destruction of the Temple of Palmyra arch -- which WND insists on calling the Temple of Baal because that's the pagan god it was originally built for, though it later served as, among other things, a Christian church and a mosque.
Indeed, two days after ConWebWatch published its summary of WND's conspiracy theories about the arch, WND seemed to feel the need to rebut it with a June 3 article headlined "Historic artifact replica, or demonic harbinger?" The anonymous WND writer admitted that the arch reconstruction "has been promoted by its creators at the Institute of Digital Technology as a symbol of defiance against terrorism and a tribute to world heritage, but then jumped straight into conspiracy-theory territory again:
But why is a reconstruction of a gateway to a temple of a pagan god whose rites were marked by child sacrifice and ritual prostitution being so persistently publicized at globally important gatherings?
WND couldn't be bothered to actually talk to the Institute of Digital Technology for their thoughts about the arch reconstruction, instead returning once again to its coterie of end-times pastors, like birther and conspiracy theorist Carl Gallups:
Gallups also said it is profoundly interesting and worrying that the arch always seems to be in a location of deep significance to the elite-driven movement to create a global government.
Or, you know, maybe an historical arch is just an historical arch. None of WND's interviewees acknowledge that the temple to which the arch was an entryway also served as a Christian church and a mosque. Nor did they offer any commentary on ISIS' destruction of the arch and other historical artifacts in the Middle East.
Still, it's not often you see a religious figure -- specifically, a self-proclaimed Messanic Jew -- cheer the work of ISIS in destroying priceless antiquities, but that's what WorldNetDaily's favorite prophet-like figure, Jonathan Cahn, is doing, according to an Oct. 28 WND article, invoking Donald Trump's purported divinely inspired election as president along the way:
“When Jehu enters into the capital city, his agenda is to ‘drain the swamp,'” explained Cahn. “That is the agenda. He’s going to take out the priests of Baal, he’s going to cleanse it, that’s the whole thing, exactly what Donald Trump said he would do.
“And the other thing is that on the way to the throne, Jehu meets a man called Jehonadab ... and all the commentaries identify him as saying he represents the religious conservatives of the land. And what happens is that Jehu makes an alliance with the religious conservatives on his way to power,” said Cahn.
Cahn apparently didn't tell Brown's listeners that the folks responsible for making the temple "fall to the ground" was ISIS, by deliberately destroying it. WND conceded this on the fringes of its article; the picture of the temple accompanying the article notes that it shows its appearance "prior to its destruction by ISIS," and it placed a link on Cahn's statement that "the temple of Baal fell to the ground" to a New York Times article pointing out that ISIS destroyed the temple.
Cheering the work of a violent terrorist group should not be the impression any religious figure wants to leave with the public, but apparently Cahn has no problem with that.
A Nov. 20 WND article by Bob Unruh is ostensibly about a Burning Man-esque event on the National Mall called Catharsis that featured "representations of 'Lord Shiva Natarja,' a Hindu god, a massive seven-headed dragon representing Satan" -- curiously, WND doesn't turn to any American source for this; it cites Breaking Israel News, a right-wing, pro-Israel outlet that hosts conferences on prophecy -- but a significant chunk of it is devoted to the Palmyra temple reproduction. This time, though, Unruh finally states in a straightforward manner, amid more ranting from Cahn, the fate of the original amid all the hand-wringing:
WND has reported recently on the repeated appearances of a reproduction of the historic Temple of Baal.
Or, you know, people who care about world history don't like to see terrorists destroy ancient ruins for their own extremist religious purposes.
Cahn clearly approves of ISIS destroying the temple -- for its serves his religious purposes too -- but he and WND know they can't say that out loud.
(A side note: Unruh began his article by noting that the Burning Man-esque event came "only 20 years after more than 1 million Christian men gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the “Stand in the Gap: A Sacred Assembly of Men” event organized by the Denver-based group Promise Keepers." Actually, best estimates were that the 1997 Promise Keepers event drew between 600,000 and 800,000, not a million-plus.)
Other reconstructions get smeared
WND's obsession with denouncing historical reproductions as pagan worship plots advanced to the next level with another reconstruction job. According to an anonymously written Dec. 9 WND article:
They’re doing it again!
This time around, though, WND enlisted its own employees to denounce the reconstruction, in addition to the usual suspects like Jonathan Cahn and Carl Gallups:
“Most people today don’t realize how much of a hold ancient pagan beliefs, practices and images still have on their lives,” said Joseph Farah, author of “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.” “In fact, pagan values and traditions have never left us. Even Jews and Christians are impacted by them. And they are not innocent because the gods of paganism are actually demons, according to the Bible. It’s not something to be played with.
Farah and Kovacs are lying when they suggest that the goal of the arch and statue reconstructions are get people to worship pagan gods and the occult. The Breaking Israel News article that was the apparent inspiration for the anonymous WND writer admits that both the Athena statue and the temple of Palmyra were destroyed by ISIS -- something the anonymous WND writer didn't think was important enough to include, like numerous WND writers before. (A picture caption of the Palmyra arch does concede it was taken before ISIS destroyed it.)
And since it's censoring a key element of this story, WND certainly isn't going to give the Institute for Digital Archeology space to explain why it's doing this: to preserve cultural heritage destroyed by ISIS.
This means that once again, WND is complaining that the Institute for Digital Archeology is undoing the handiwork of ISIS in destroying ancient artifacts for the advancement of their own extremists ideology. And, thus, it also means that WND is effectively endorsing ISIS' work in destroying the artifacts -- not that WND is brave enough to admit that's what it's doing.
Unruh mentioned only in passing that the statue was "damaged by ISIS," but he doesn't admit that the reproduction was completed three months earlier, meaning Unruh is a little late to this story. Instead, he quotes Daniel Ashur, member of Israel's self-proclaimed Sanhedrin -- whose extremism WND has previously praised -- to freak out about the "alarming series of events, meaning the statue's reconstruction. He apparently did not consider ISIS' wanton destruction of a priceless piece of antiquity to be alarming.
Because UNESCO helped fund the restoration, Unruh uncritically quoted Ashur ranting that the restoration was some sort of anti-Israel New World Order maneuver, despite the fact that the statue has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel:
“The entire mission of the organization is to blur the differences between the nations in order to bring them all under one roof and one authority in a New World Order,” he said. “The truth is, as the Bible says, there are 70 distinct nations. The U.N. believes they can create nations out of thin air. Once they do that, they can say that there are many gods, even ones you can create by 3-D printing.”
The fact that WND gives an uncritical platform to this kind of paranoid, fact-free ranting -- not to mention falsely reporting the motives behind these restorations and reconstructions, giving the unmistakable impression that it's on the side of ISIS in destroying priceless antiquities -- is one reason it's in deep financial trouble.
Even a historical reconstruction gets attacked
WND's freakout about the restoration of ancient history even extends to reconstruction that isn't associated with something destroyed by ISIS. Bob Unruh wrote in a Jan. 21 article:
First Baal was “resurrected” from the pages of history books.
Unlike the others WND has freaked out about, this isn't an attempt to reconstruct something that ISIS destroyed; as Unruh went on to note, the ruins of the temple were first uncovered in 1954 and moved; what's happening now is the relocation of the ruins to the original site -- which actually happened in November, meaning Unruh is a good two months late in reporting on this.
Unruh spent the rest of the article prattling on about how terrible it is that shrines to pagan gods are being preserved, using material copied-and-pasted from earlier freakouts. That's a willful ignorance of the reason why it's being done. Nobody engaged in these reconstructions are trying to bring back worship of ancient gods, and nobody at WND has ever proven otherwise; they are historians trying to preserve history.
Just as WND has apparently approved of ISIS' destruction of the earlier antiquities that have been restored or reconstructed, Unruh seems to be implicitly arguing that ISIS -- or some other band of violent radical extremists -- do the same to the ruins of the Temple of Mithras.