The Giant of Kandahar

When you talk about conspiracy theories, or false information, one of the unfortunate side effects, because of how our brain processes information, is that outlining the thing first creates the impression that it’s true, and then the disproving has to be satisfactory to that. Even if you do a perfect job debunking the introduced idea, our memories filter away in different order, and the thing more easily brought to mind seems more true. It means you have to be careful how you introduce the outlandish, for fear of leaving people with the impression of the wrong thing having a kernel of truth.

With that in mind, there’s a not insignificant number of people who believe the United States government found a giant in the invasion of Afghanistan and are covering it up.

Pause for effect.

There are pictures, but those pictures are all artists impressions, art painted by people who genuinely believe they’re depicting a real thing, with art depicting a large, shaggy redhaired giant humanoid, with twelve fingers and toes, somewhere in the district of three meters tall. The art is reasonably high quality, and tries to include details you’d normally call anchoring detail, things like specific models of gun, detailed depiction of the military uniforms used in the theatre of war, all that stuff, and I just don’t want to host it here. When I use pictures from the internet, I either use things that are labelled for free reuse, are promotional materials from the product itself, or are things I can source in some reasonable way. I don’t want to source this artwork. I don’t want to give the Giant of Kandahar people even the tiniest drop of legitimacy in that regard.

And when I say ‘giant’ I really do mean it. It’s a thing that people who believe in such things do not believe as a vaguery. It’s not ‘a really big dude,’ it’s specifically a redheaded, caucasian-ish giant humanoid that tangibly cannot be seen as just a very big person, usually with a spear, usually big enough and dangerous enough on its own to threaten a vaguely-defined squad of soldiers with modern guns. The idea is that the giant is then killed, the corpse is captured and brought back to the US Military base, and the US Military… then… uh, keep it. Secretly.

This seems like a weird thing to have a story about, except in that sort of generalised ‘well, they’re covering stuff up’ way. It’s not even like the silly military ghost stories, where people experiencing PTSD triggers may see or experience phantom sensation and I’m sure there’s nothing related there. When it comes to these weird ideas, you often have to go a step or two to work out exactly why people would promote a conspiracy theory about the thing. Scientology wants you to distrust psychologists and medical professionals so you become dependent on them, for example, and Catholics wants you to always see the role of confession as vital because that way your very everyday rituals are part of interacting with the Church.

Who gets what out of the idea that a bunch of soldiers killed a giant in Afghanistan?

It connects to a particular network of related conspiracism that runs like a tumour throughout the Christian communities. Oh, you might not know you know someone who believes this junk, but you probably do. There’s this mix of nonsense, all this connected weird stuff, that tries to paint the world as full of these hard-to-find, easy-to-suppress unnatural things. It’s funny, it’s a little like the SCP foundation fictional space, where there are people who genuinely believe there’s something like that, a concerted effort to keep the weird stuff out of the eye of the public.

Okay, but what’s the aim? What does this conspiracy serve?

It’s part of what I’ve jokingly referred to as Arkeology in the past. Now, look, Christians largely all believe in some untrue fake stuff as being literally true. Not just the faith in the book, but most Christians believe (for example) that Moses was a real historical figure, that the Bible depicts some generally true history, even the Christians that don’t believe in miracles. It varies, of course; some believe that Moses did literally hold the planet on its axis for three days, with some excuse about it beign an illusion or swamp gas or whatever. There’s some degree of excuse-making about the Flood, a thing that definitely didn’t happen but they keep redefining to say, hey, hey, maybe something like it happened. Some believe in the historical Jesus, almost all of them believe in the resurrection, and typically, they believe that these things definitely did happen, and they don’t… happen… now.

Typically speaking, these conspiracy theories tend to be about validating the historicity of nonsense.  There’s a lot of stuff in this space, like the Loch Ness Monster myth (where it’s a dinosaur, and therefore, the dinosaurs never died out, therefore, evolution is fake), or the real historical ruin of the ark (which proves the global flood), or in this case, the idea of the Giant of Kandahar, who

sigh

Is a reference to Goliath’s brothers, from the book of Samuel. There are a couple of conflicting versions of the narrative (like how David’s servant Elhanan killed Goliath, but let’s gloss over that), in the Bible, but one of the details that gets glossed over is that David picks up a number of stones, one for each of Goliath’s brothers. A modern reading might consider this detail strange, perhaps connected to some other part of the story that is given special attention and doesn’t pay off in this story, and that’s true; the Bible then goes on to describe that Goliath’s siblings are also killed (so there’s your payoff). It’s a folk story, it has imagery in it, because, and I need to make this clear, it didn’t bloody happen, so the purpose behind the story is not to accord a historical event, but to instead convey a metaphor. This tribe fell, so will these, then they did fall, all that stuff.

If you’re a Young Earth Creationist, though, or in that grey region of kinda-related-to-them-but-not-necessarily-there, then you need more of the Bible to be literally true. You need to find ‘proof’ in the real world for the nonsense in the Bible, and that’s why people start drawing star maps and inventing narratives about ejected planets, as they try to harmonise the nonsense of the book with the real world.

And so: the story of the Giant of Kandahar. If this giant is real, and it was covered up, it has to be for a reason. If it was covered up it was because it showed some truth that they don’t want you to know. If there was a truth the government was hiding, it had to be something about the oppression of Christians (trust me, this is a thing). Then from there it has to be that this must be something about the Bible, and therefore, you get some mix of either the Nephilim (mentioned once in the pre-flood stories, but they were meant to have died in the flood, whatever), or the same legacy, in the same sort-of-maybe-kinda general area as the Biblical narrative of David and Goliath.

That’s it.

That’s the nonsense this is about.

(Oh and these ideas are part of how a lot of Christians support the oppression of Palestine)

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