Tonight, the CBC is showing a ‘documentary’ called Ice Bridge.
CBC’s science show The Nature of Things is set to air a documentary that purports to prove the first humans in the New World came across the ocean from Europe and not, as most scientists think, via a land bridge from Asia.
It’s about the Solutrean hypothesis. As you might guess from the description, it’s part of that old school of anthropological thought that tries to claim that Europe is the wellspring of all human progress, spreading outward to bring enlightenment, or at least better weapons, to the more barbarous regions of the world. It’s not impossible that some ancient Europeans, painting themselves blue with woad and bundled up in furs while waving pointy sticks, might have stumbled across arctic ice to Iceland and Greenland and then to North America, but it was damned unlikely. “Not impossible” is insufficient argument to support an idea, however; I suppose it’s also not impossible that little green men landed in England and helped the druids erect Stonehenge with their anti-gravity rays. I’m going to insist on more evidence than pointing and saying, “Well, that’s a mighty big big rock, innit? It’s heavy. How else would the Druids have lifted it? Magic? Hur hur hur.”
This idea that Solutreans from Europe actually colonized and spread across the Americas before Asians got there is of similar quality. It is based entirely on flint tools found in America having a resemblance to flint tools found in Europe. That’s it. The key thing is that Solutrean tools were made by pressure flaking rather than just bashing rocks together — a technique in which you use, for instance, a bit of antler to apply controlled pressure to the edge of a flint tool and snap off smaller flakes, allowing more precision in shaping. Apparently Asians and Indians were incapable of figuring this out.
But there is nothing else to support the Solutrean hypothesis.
There is, for example, no evidence of Solutrean seafaring, and no evidence of their cave art in North America, which would be unusual for a people known for the elaborately painted Cave of Altamira in Spain. There have also been no discoveries in North America of Solutrean human remains. It is just as possible that the American flint blades that look Solutrean were made by ancient Native Americans, and the similarity is just coincidence, or that the blades are not as old as they appear.
Still, the CBC documentary sympathetically casts the two main advocates of this fringe theory as brave resisters against a blinkered scientific orthodoxy. They will “never give up searching for the truth,” says narrator David Suzuki.
It sounds like a miserably bad documentary with a skewed perspective that promotes a couple of fringe scientists. Shame on you, Canada. But at the same time I’m finding this out via Canada’s National Post, a newspaper that leans conservative, and that article isn’t at all shy about pointing out the huge problems with this ‘documentary’.
One major issue is that, while there is no evidence to support it, it is fervently supported by racists, a concern that the documentary actively avoids, while the National Post article discusses it.
One prominent example is the book White Apocalypse by Kyle Bristow, which fictionalizes the theory with a story about the “Solutrean Liberation Front” and their modern-day battles, and argues that ancient Solutreans were exterminated in North America by more recent migrants of Asian background — the ancestors of modern Native Americans.
Paul Fromm, a leading Canadian white supremacist organizer, called the book a “soaring inspirational dramatization of our people taking our continent back from the Third World invaders.”
It is “extremely irresponsible” for the scientists to keep pushing their own lifelong passion in this racist context, Moreno-Mayar said. He mentioned online discussion of the “outdated” Solutrean theory.
“It’s crazy horrible what you see there. You see basically all of these racist ideas that are justifying colonialism, and justifying this super racist way of thinking,” he said. “Most people supporting this are associated with this racist way of thinking, that Native Americans are not really Native Americans.”
The new documentary does not address the issue of racism at all. Bicknell said she was aware of it, but did not address it because she “didn’t want to give it a lick of airspace… It’s just such crap.”
White nationalists love to justify European genocide of the Indians by claiming that they did it first — we were just getting even for all the Imaginary White People slaughtered by Imaginary Barbarous Red Hordes. See also the mythology of the Book of Mormon for further examples. All it’s based on is superficial similarity of some stone tools and several hundred years of White European bias. It is grossly irresponsible of the documentary to bury this association, because you know the show is going to be used by the kinds of ignorant people who get all their information from TV to rationalize further bigotry.
And worst of all, the Solutrean hypothesis is contradicted by the genetic evidence. Not only is the hypothesis built on froth and fantasy and bigotry, it goes against the massive amounts of solid evidence that shows that the native peoples of the Americas are descended from Asian ancestors.