I must admit that hearing that some people believe in the existence of ‘lizard people’ took me by surprise, even though you would think that by now I would have become accustomed to hearing that people believe in all manner of fantastical ideas. So what is this theory and how did it originate? Cultural historian Lynn Stuart Parramore walks us through this strange world that has anti-Semitic roots. She says that while the theory is undoubtedly bonkers, it is definitely not harmless.
The world-ruled-by-lizard-people fantasy shot to prominence in recent years in part through the ramblings of David Icke, a popular British sports reporter-turned-conspiracy theorist known for his eccentric ideas.
Icke would have you believe that a race of reptilian beings not only invaded Earth, but that it also created a genetically modified lizard-human hybrid race called the “Babylonian Brotherhood,” which, he maintains, is busy plotting a worldwide fascist state. This sinister cabal of global reptilian elites boasts a membership list including former President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Mick Jagger.
Ok, I’ll grant that Mick Jagger could well be a lizard person. He is clearly not human. How else can you explain that a near-octogenarian is still able to prance around the stage for three hour-rock concerts, belting out songs with the vigor of someone one-third his age? But the others?
Parramore digs into the origins of this belief.
The writings of the Russian-born mystic Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy, bristle with cosmic energies and mysterious knowledge — including her claim of an ancient race of dragon men from a lost continent mentioned in her esoteric 1888 tome, “The Secret Doctrine.”
Blavatsky’s florid imagination influenced a slew of artists and writers, including, as political scientist Michael Barkun notes, one Robert E. Howard. His widely popular “Conan the Barbarian” stories in the early 20th century featured reptilian humanoids who deploy their shape-changing and mind-control talents to dominate humanity.
It may not surprise you that Icke, who wrote a theosophical work about the origins of Earth, also endorses the infamous anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which appeared in 1903 and was likely created by the Russian czar’s secret police. Henry Ford, for one, helped circulate the pamphlet, which purported to reveal a secret Jewish society conspiring to control the banks, the media and, ultimately, the entire Earth. Though it was quickly discredited, the Nazis used it as propaganda.
Icke denies animosity toward Jewish people. But whether he is or isn’t deliberately using the notion of reptilian invaders as coded anti-Semitism, it is nonetheless the case that the idea tends to circulate, as writer Miikka Jaarte points out, among neo-Nazis, Illuminati conspiracy proponents and various other groups that insist that we are being manipulated by sinister “puppeteers” who often just happen to be Jewish. Billionaire George Soros is a frequent bête noire among this crowd, and he is often depicted as a world-dominating reptile.
The lizard takeover, with its Jewish-cabal links, has, unfortunately, become so commonplace that it even made an appearance in Netflix’s hit sci-fi series “The Umbrella Academy” — now taking some heat for its alleged use of anti-Semitic tropes in the form of a shadowy society of lizard people who run the world, complete with a Yiddish-speaking villain.
Parramore says that outlandish theories seem to flourish at times “when panic is rising, institutions seem to be failing and the masses feel betrayed by wealthy elites” because it enables people to fixate on scapegoats for their problems, and this can be dangerous.
The idea that the world is rigged against ordinary people and in favor of wealthy elites is not wrong. But people find it hard to grasp the more abstract mechanisms at work, that this is because of the working out of capitalism that creates a class of people who share the same goal of enriching themselves and have achieved high levels of power and influence and thus the ability to rig the rules of society to benefit themselves. Once this class dominates the major institutions of society, most things are done largely in the open. They do not need secret cabals or shapeshifting bodies but such a model is easier to understand and thus more likely to be seized on, once you have abandoned any commitment to science-based thinking and given yourself over to fantasies.
It would be interesting to see if the people who believe in the lizard people idea are also believers in gods and other forms of the supernatural because you need some sort of gateway to fantastical thinking.