[Educator-Gold] FAKE NEWS : FALSE PROPHECY: Before ‘Fake News’ Came False Prophecy

 

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FAKE NEWS :

FALSE PROPHECY:

Before ‘Fake News’ Came False Prophecy

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Before ‘Fake News’ Came False Prophecy

From medieval Britain to the present, fantastic stories speaking to readers darkest fears have proven capable of altering reality.

Actors in period costume at Hampton Court, palace of Henry VIII

Toby Melville

Reuters

ERIC WEISKOTT

The Atlantic

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/ before-fake-news-came-false-prophecy/511700/

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/jqtfzgc

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The revelation that fake news deceived voters in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election generated real outrage in the aftermath of Donald Trumps electoral victory. The top fake news stories garnered more clicks than the top real news stories on Facebook in the final three months of the campaign season. Fake news and other campaign fantasies led Oxford Dictionaries to select post-truth as the word of the year for 2016.

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But stories that gain popularity by presenting readers fantasies and nightmares as current events are hardly new. In medieval Britain, national and local political action was guided by prophecy. Prophecies were invoked by rebel leaders, appropriated by ruling elites, and, ultimately, censored by a government fearful of their disruptive potential. Prophecys effectiveness in shaping medieval politics offers a rejoinder to those who suggest that fake news and other political falsehoods can be ignored, or laughed off. Prophecy, like fake news, worked as persuasive writing because it told people what they wanted to believe or spoke to their darkest fears.

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British politics provided ample opportunity to test the power of imagined worlds. When Owain Glyndwr, Edmund Mortimer, and Henry Percy plotted against Henry IV at the turn of the 15th century, they used the popular Prophecy of the Six Kings to justify their actions. A later historical account has the three rebels committing to treason on the condition that they are the people about whom the prophet speaks. The fantasy that Glyndwr, Mortimer, and Percy were prophesied saviorsa fantasy they themselves may have believedhad the very real effect of attracting popular support for their insurrection.

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Prophecy also played a key role when the Wars of the Roses broke out between the Houses of York and Lancaster in the 1450s. The Yorkists used the prophecies of Merlin to support Edward IVs claim to the throne. The Lancastrians interpreted the same prophecies to mean that their candidate, Henry VI, deserved the crown. One Yorkist manuscript, a sumptuous scroll now in Oxfords Bodleian Library, features a circular array of insulting names for Henry VI. The names, in English and Latin, include usurper, fool, and scoundrel, as well as white dragon, a symbol for the Saxonsalways the antagonists in British prophecy. The Yorkist scroll was not meant to win hearts and minds. It was meant to stoke partisan rage.

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British politics provided ample opportunity to test the power of imagined worlds. When Owain Glyndwr, Edmund Mortimer, and Henry Percy plotted against Henry IV at the turn of the 15th century, they used the popular Prophecy of the Six Kings to justify their actions. A later historical account has the three rebels committing to treason on the condition that they are the people about whom the prophet speaks. The fantasy that Glyndwr, Mortimer, and Percy were prophesied saviorsa fantasy they themselves may have believedhad the very real effect of attracting popular support for their insurrection.

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Prophecy also played a key role when the Wars of the Roses broke out between the Houses of York and Lancaster in the 1450s. The Yorkists used the prophecies of Merlin to support Edward IVs claim to the throne. The Lancastrians interpreted the same prophecies to mean that their candidate, Henry VI, deserved the crown. One Yorkist manuscript, a sumptuous scroll now in Oxfords Bodleian Library, features a circular array of insulting names for Henry VI. The names, in English and Latin, include usurper, fool, and scoundrel, as well as white dragon, a symbol for the Saxonsalways the antagonists in British prophecy. The Yorkist scroll was not meant to win hearts and minds. It was meant to stoke partisan rage.

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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Sincerely,
David Dillard
Temple University
(215) 204 – 4584
jwne@temple.edu
http://workface.com/e/daviddillard

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[Educator-Gold] FAKE NEWS : FALSE PROPHECY: Before ‘Fake News’ Came False Prophecy

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