Cleopatra: STILL not out of Africa

Readability

Cleopatra: STILL not out of Africa

Almost twenty years ago in the days before I read a book and reviewed on Ama­zon (there was a time when I was a top 1000 reviewer over there) that out­raged me titled Not Out Of Africa: How ““Afro­cen­trism”” Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As His­tory.

What out­raged me was not her dar­ing to book point­ing out that Cleopa­tra was a white Greek that was sim­ply telling the truth, what irri­tated me was that so called schol­ars where try­ing to re-​rewrite his­tory for polit­i­cal rea­sons. Here was my Ama­zon review in full from 2001 with the hind­sight of spellcheck that believe it or not I didn’t use back then.

I can think of noth­ing more insult­ing to the Black com­mu­nity than the need of some Afro­cen­tric “experts” to lit­er­ally steal the his­tory of another coun­try (Greece). It implies that Africa doesn’t have a rich enough cul­ture to be proud of and that is a shame. It is a crime that Mary Lefkowitz needed to write such a book, how­ever since it has to be done she does it well. Step by step she gives actual evi­dence to refute claims born out of rage and inad­e­quacy. The best argu­ments involve (in my opin­ion) point­ing to the lack of a pro­pa­ganda attack on Cleopa­tra for her race by her & Ceasar’s foes. It is a fine exam­ple of how peo­ple and pol­i­tics don’t change only the tech­nol­ogy they use does. She points out not just the fac­tual errors but the inher­ent dan­gers of spread­ing a fan­tasy and believ­ing a lie for polit­i­cal pur­poses. Those who do are made of the stuff of those who don’t care for those they incite and exist only to destroy. All of the great­est tyrants used such tac­tics as the basis for their rule. Such illu­sions are usu­ally shat­tered at a great price. Lets hope that we as a soci­ety and par­tic­u­larly the young African Amer­i­can com­mu­nity don’t to pay it.

As you might guess in the pre-​twitter/​facebook days the result­ing per­se­cu­tion of her for un-​apologetically speak­ing and teach­ing the truth didn’t go viral but resulted in a 2nd book. His­tory Les­son: A Race Odyssey that was a chron­i­cle of the ordeal she was put through for dar­ing to chal­lenge the reli­gion of race huck­ster­ism in the name of truth. My Ama­zon review from 2008 again cor­rected for spelling which improved con­sid­er­ably over 8 years:

The story of Mary Lefkowitz and her expe­ri­ences over the last decade and a half is very impor­tant not only in terms of the facts, but as a story of how the cul­ture wars are fought.

How a scholar of ancient his­tory whose only con­cern was the teach­ing of facts, became a flash point in the race game is an object les­son in what hap­pens when you ignore impor­tant prin­ci­ples in order to get along. The crit­i­cal points in the book are early as she shows how in order to avoid con­fronta­tion peo­ple with author­ity choose to empower those who eschew fact, evi­dence, schol­ar­ship, pro­ce­dure and deco­rum. The enablers, more than the huck­sters, are the real vil­lains of this book. Their cow­ardice should be a source of per­sonal and pro­fes­sional dis­grace as teach­ers and admin­is­tra­tors. It is an excel­lent illus­tra­tion of the cost of appeasement.

Her writ­ing seems rather naïve at times; almost as if she doesn’t real­ize why this is hap­pen­ing. In the end she decides that facts were being sub­orned for the sake of a desired result (empow­er­ment and pride). She argues that a noble motive doesn’t jus­tify the use of untruth and myth. It demeans those who the users would hope to empower. Lefkowitz’s essen­tial inno­cence to actual motive is almost incred­i­ble to read, but is no more odd that the media’s unwill­ing­ness to con­demn a cer­tain reverend’s from Chicago incred­i­ble state­ments before a select group until he pub­licly made those same state­ments in front of a national audience.

This is the book’s one weak­ness. She doesn’t real­ize that this is in effect a reli­gion and its “preach­ers” goal is to empower not the fol­lower but them­selves for the sake of sta­tus, influ­ence and finan­cial reward. This can only be done if the rubes are kept angry and depen­dent. Her fact based argu­ment was and is a threat to this. Thus she was attacked.

In terms of read­abil­ity this is as dry as one might expect from one whose main con­cern is lit­eral fact. Lefkowitz is no Shelby Foote or Will Durant but she doesn’t have to be, the story itself is com­pelling and top­i­cal enough not to require such an author.

This fault aside this book is vital read­ing. It is impor­tant to reward truth and those who will stand up to it but its also a reminder to oth­ers that the price of silence will even­tu­ally have to be paid with interest.

Her story is one of the rea­sons why the cul­ture war needed to be fought. That our soci­ety didn’t take her lessons to heart is the rea­son why you have the out­rage mob, sup­ported by an entire gen­er­a­tion taught junk his­tory in order to feel bet­ter about them­selves, are going nuts over the pos­si­bil­ity that a new movie about Cleopa­tra might have a white actress play­ing a greek.

The whole con­cept that it’s an actors job to play some­thing they’re not is a debate for another day but what really out­rages me is that you lit­er­ally have mil­lions peo­ple upset because they have been taught a myth as fact to feel bet­ter about them­selves. And those that taught that myth will exploit it to the fullest because it’s a lot eas­ier to do that then to solve the actual prob­lems fac­ing the black com­mu­nity such as black on black gang vio­lence that con­tin­ues to kill their community.

You want to talk about exploita­tion? That’s exploitation!



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Almost twenty years ago in the days before I read a book and reviewed on Amazon (there was a time when I was a top 1000 reviewer over there) that outraged me titled Not Out Of Africa: How “”Afrocentrism”” Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History.

What outraged me was not her daring to book pointing out that Cleopatra was a white Greek that was simply telling the truth, what irritated me was that so called scholars where trying to re-rewrite history for political reasons. Here was my Amazon review in full from 2001 with the hindsight of spellcheck that believe it or not I didn’t use back then.

I can think of nothing more insulting to the Black community than the need of some Afrocentric “experts” to literally steal the history of another country (Greece). It implies that Africa doesn’t have a rich enough culture to be proud of and that is a shame. It is a crime that Mary Lefkowitz needed to write such a book, however since it has to be done she does it well. Step by step she gives actual evidence to refute claims born out of rage and inadequacy. The best arguments involve (in my opinion) pointing to the lack of a propaganda attack on Cleopatra for her race by her & Ceasar’s foes. It is a fine example of how people and politics don’t change only the technology they use does. She points out not just the factual errors but the inherent dangers of spreading a fantasy and believing a lie for political purposes. Those who do are made of the stuff of those who don’t care for those they incite and exist only to destroy. All of the greatest tyrants used such tactics as the basis for their rule. Such illusions are usually shattered at a great price. Lets hope that we as a society and particularly the young African American community don’t to pay it.

As you might guess in the pre-twitter/facebook days the resulting persecution of her for un-apologetically speaking and teaching the truth didn’t go viral but resulted in a 2nd book. History Lesson: A Race Odyssey that was a chronicle of the ordeal she was put through for daring to challenge the religion of race hucksterism in the name of truth. My Amazon review from 2008 again corrected for spelling which improved considerably over 8 years:

The story of Mary Lefkowitz and her experiences over the last decade and a half is very important not only in terms of the facts, but as a story of how the culture wars are fought.

How a scholar of ancient history whose only concern was the teaching of facts, became a flash point in the race game is an object lesson in what happens when you ignore important principles in order to get along. The critical points in the book are early as she shows how in order to avoid confrontation people with authority choose to empower those who eschew fact, evidence, scholarship, procedure and decorum. The enablers, more than the hucksters, are the real villains of this book. Their cowardice should be a source of personal and professional disgrace as teachers and administrators. It is an excellent illustration of the cost of appeasement.

Her writing seems rather naive at times; almost as if she doesn’t realize why this is happening. In the end she decides that facts were being suborned for the sake of a desired result (empowerment and pride). She argues that a noble motive doesn’t justify the use of untruth and myth. It demeans those who the users would hope to empower. Lefkowitz’s essential innocence to actual motive is almost incredible to read, but is no more odd that the media’s unwillingness to condemn a certain reverend’s from Chicago incredible statements before a select group until he publicly made those same statements in front of a national audience.

This is the book’s one weakness. She doesn’t realize that this is in effect a religion and its “preachers” goal is to empower not the follower but themselves for the sake of status, influence and financial reward. This can only be done if the rubes are kept angry and dependent. Her fact based argument was and is a threat to this. Thus she was attacked.

In terms of readability this is as dry as one might expect from one whose main concern is literal fact. Lefkowitz is no Shelby Foote or Will Durant but she doesn’t have to be, the story itself is compelling and topical enough not to require such an author.

This fault aside this book is vital reading. It is important to reward truth and those who will stand up to it but its also a reminder to others that the price of silence will eventually have to be paid with interest.

Her story is one of the reasons why the culture war needed to be fought. That our society didn’t take her lessons to heart is the reason why you have the outrage mob, supported by an entire generation taught junk history in order to feel better about themselves, are going nuts over the possibility that a new movie about Cleopatra might have a white actress playing a greek.

The whole concept that it’s an actors job to play something they’re not is a debate for another day but what really outrages me is that you literally have millions people upset because they have been taught a myth as fact to feel better about themselves. And those that taught that myth will exploit it to the fullest because it’s a lot easier to do that then to solve the actual problems facing the black community such as black on black gang violence that continues to kill their community.

You want to talk about exploitation? That’s exploitation!


This site is paid for by you. Last year we managed $5294 of our $22K goal. If you think what we do worthwhile please consider subscribing to help keep our writers and the bills paid.
Choose a Subscription level
Of course one time Tip jar hits and always welcome too.
Either way it’s most appreciated.