Yesterday Up North Progressive shared an audio recording of Betsy DeVos and her husband Dick answering questions at The Gathering in 2001. The Gathering is a right wing religious organization that rakes in about a billion dollars a year to fund Dominion Christian causes, such as infiltrating government and turning the United States into a theocracy.
In the recording, Dick and Betsy claim where archaeologists dig in the shfela in Palestine and find no evidence of pig bones, that’s proof the settlement was Hebrew. If pig bones are found, then Philistines lived there. Using this analogy that pig was the preferred food of idolaters, the lack of idols and pig bones is evidence that the Israelis converted the Philistines and pig eating stopped as a result. Dick and Betsy see their work to eradicate public education as the same mission. Pig bones = public schools = ungodly government schools.
The only problem with this “evidence” about the Philistines is there are no written records these people ever existed except for ancient civilizations who claim to have known of them, and none spoke favorably. Most “history” of the Philistines comes from the Old Testament. Remember David and Goliath? That story allegedly took place in the shfela. Ancient Egyptians and Assyrians also claim they encountered these people, and their purpose in the narrative, just like the Hebrews’ history of the Philistines, was as an obligatory punching bag. Modern research is riddled with controversy; proof these people existed at all can be easily refuted.
Democratos over at Daily Kos shared a book published in 1974 that looks at ancient culture and human behavior based on food sources, habitat and location. Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris provides a different possibility for why people living in Palestine five thousand years ago gradually stopped eating pigs:
Sheep and goats were the first animals to be domesticated in the Middle East, possibly as early as 9,000 B.C. Pigs were domesticated in the same general region about 2,000 years later. Bone counts conducted by archaeologists at early pre-historic village farming sites show that the domesticated pig was almost always a relatively minor part of the village fauna, constituting only about 5 percent of the food animal remains …
Between 7,000 and 2,000 B.C. pork became still more of a luxury. During this period there was a sixty fold increase in the human population of the Middle East. Extensive deforestation accompanied by the rise in population, especially caused by the large herds of sheep and goats. Shade and water, the natural conditions for appropriate pig raising, progressively became more scarce, and pork became even more of an ecological and economic luxury.
That narrative seems more plausible than a mythic people that left no evidence of their existence adopted the Hebrew religion, and thus stopped eating pork as a result. Human activity deprived pigs of their habitat and raising them became too difficult to maintain, so people stopped raising them.
It seems only appropriate that Betsy DeVos’s motivation for destroying public education comes from unsubstantiated, controversial historical narrative about a fictional people who ate pigs, and that made them godless heathens. In her mind, public schools are those pig bones gnawed on by imaginary pagans, and if we just get rid of the public schools, the children attending those schools can receive educational salvation.
But perhaps public exposure to the Educational Whores of Babylon that are Dick and Betsy DeVos is exactly what Americans need right now. They need to know these people exist, and they’re using their billions to dismantle everything that makes America the great country it is. Betsy DeVos is the fourth billionaire Trump has selected for his cabinet. Drain the swamp? The swamp just got ten feet higher.