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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Skull And Bones

Skull And Bones Cover "Skull and Bones is the oldest of Yale’s fraternities, founded in December of 1832 by a Yale senior named William Huntington Russell (1809-85). He and a group of classmates decided to form the Eulogian Club as an American chapter of a German student organization. The club paid obeisance to Eulogia, the goddess of eloquence, who took her place in the pantheon upon the death of the orator Demosthenes, in 322 B.C., and who is said to have returned in a kind of Second Coming on the occasion of the society’s inception. The Yale society fastened a picture of its symbol — a skull and crossbones — to the door of the chapel where it met. Today the number 322, recalling the date of Demosthenes' death, appears on society stationery. In 1856 Daniel Coit Gilman, who went on to become the founding president of Johns Hopkins University, officially incorporated the society as the Russell Trust Association, and Skull and Bones moved into the space it still occupies.
"For many years the society has possessed a skull that members call Geronimo. In [1986], under pressure from Ned Anderson, a former Apache tribal chairman in Arizona, the society produced the skull in question. The skull didn't match Anderson’s records, and it was returned to the society’s tomb.

"It does own an island on the St. Lawrence River — Deer Island, in Alexandria Bay [Donated by George Douglas Miller, who requested the island be called "Deer Iland."]. The forty-acre retreat is intended to give Bonesmen an opportunity to 'get together and rekindle old friendships.' A century ago the island sported tennis courts and its softball fields were surrounded by rhubarb plants and gooseberry bushes. Catboats waited on the lake. Stewards catered elegant meals. But although each new Skull and Bones member still visits Deer Island, the place leaves something to be desired. 'Now it is just a bunch of burned-out stone buildings,' a patriarch sighs. 'It’s basically ruins.' Another Bonesman says that to call the island 'rustic' would be to glorify it. 'It’s a dump, but it’s beautiful.'"

Initiates are known as Knights of Eulogia, their counterparts in the Scroll and Key fraternity are called Savages and non-members are labeled Barbarians while graduate members are styled Patriarchs. The society rule does not allow alcohol or drugs in their building, called the Crypt or Tomb. Their main activity appears to be weekly dinners accompanied by spirited debates.
By 1873, the fraternity was being criticised as a "deadly evil" practicing satanic initiations 2 while on September 29, 1876, a group calling itself "The Order of File and Claw" broke into the Skull and Bones’s building and subsequently published a pamphlet ascribing the order’s roots in an unidentified German society.

"According to one version of the Order’s founding, it was an outgrowth of an earlier British or Scottish freemasonic grouping first established at All Soul’s College at Oxford University in the late 17th century. Another version of the history of Skull & Bones is that it grew out of the German "nationalistic" secret societies of the early 19th century. Still a third explanation is that Skull & Bones is an uniquely American institution which adopted some of the rituals of European freemasonry, but molded these rituals and beliefs into a new form. "

Ron Rosenbaum, writing in Esquire in 1977, may be responsible for the current interest in the Skull and Bones. He detailed the history of the order, noted similarities to the Bavarian Illuminati and referred, sceptically, to the John Birch Society and other conspiracy theorists' views on the Illuminati. 5 In 1980, the right-wing Manchester Union Leader made an issue of George Bush’s Skull and Bones membership, quoting Rosenbaum but making it seem more sinister. Later, in the I992 election campaign, Pat Buchanan, George Bush’s challenger for the Republican nomination, accused the president of running 'a Skull and Bones presidency'.

In 2002 Ron Rosenbaum revisited the topic, noting that an "all-girl break-in team" had photographed the inside of the order’s building, revealing it to be little more than a common frat-house. Rosenbaum doesn't accept the theories of global conspiracy: "They didn't have to conspire to exercise power: At the height of what Bones member Henry Luce called 'the American century,' all they had to do was breathe, i.e. get born into the right family in an elite that practically did rule the world. That and a wink and a nod to a trusted friend now and then, no need for a secret handshake: Their power was public, in-your-face, had no need to hide itself."

The source of many of the accusations, British-born conspiracy theorist Antony Sutton (1925 - 2002/06/17) wrote a series of pamphlets about the order between 1983-1986, which were compiled into one volume and published as a book in 1986.

Current criticism of the Order of Skull and Bones range from Kris Millegan’s accusation that the Skull and Bones is the American branch of the Illuminati8 to Andrei Navrozov, author of The Gingerbread Race, who asserts that the initiation ritual "is like a black mass", while Eric Samuelson claims that "not unlike some Masonic ceremonies, it involves a compromising of individual dignity...."

While claiming to present a factual, balanced report, Goldstein and Steinberg erroneosly claim that Rosenbaum wrote that "the society’s Germanic origins are inherently wicked and pre-Nazi" and that "the Skull & Bones building on the Yale campus houses remnants from Hitler’s private collection of silver." In fact, Rosenbaum draws no conclusions about the alleged Germanic origins, and specifically states that Hitler’s silverware is in the archives of another Yale fraternity, Scroll and Key. They further distort a superficial similarity with Illuminati ritual by erroneosly claiming that a German inscription in the Skull and Bones building is from a German masonic ritual.

The link to the Illuminati is unproven and improbable although there is no reason that Russell might not have come across old Bavarian Illuminati texts or met German students who continued to idealize its spirit of liberalism and republicanism. There is no demonstrated link to Freemasonry.

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