In the wake of Prince’s recent premature death, it might be illuminating to revisit his April 27, 2009 comments regarding the controversial chemtrail phenomenon: “[Dick Gregory] said something that really hit home about this phenomenon of chemtrails. And you know, when I was a kid I used to see these trails in the sky all the time and [think] ‘Oh that’s cool—a jet just went over.’ And then you started to see a whole bunch of them, and next thing you know everybody in your neighborhood was fighting and arguing and you didn’t know why.”
In this statement, Prince is clearly suggesting that the covert purpose of chemtrails is out and out mind control and population reduction. Readers of Leonard Cole’s well-researched book, Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas, will immediately understand that this is by no means an unprecedented scenario.
Tellingly, however, chemtrails and mind control were not the only “fringe subjects” that fascinated Prince. Take note in particular of his statement in this same interview regarding the eight American presidents who preceded George Washington: “We live in a place now that feels just about like a plantation. We’re all indentured servants. When I found out that there were eight presidents before George Washington, I wanted to smack somebody. I wanted to know why I was taught otherwise.”
In my 2014 essay “The War Against the Imagination: How to Teach in a System Designed to Fail,” I wrote about my own experience learning this same obscure aspect of American history:
“In light of the increasing amount of darkly surreal political scandals emerging from the White House these days (i.e., ‘Benghazi-gate,’ ‘AP-gate,’ ‘IRS-gate’), one can’t help but wonder if the real reason Those In Power wish to eradicate fiction from American education is to make the next generation of voters unfamiliar with the very concept of fiction itself, thus rendering the citizenry incapable of recognizing pure fiction when it appears on the nightly news or—more specifically—when it comes pouring out of the mouth of a duplicitous President on a regular basis. Distinguishing between lies and truth requires the skill to think independently, a skill best reinforced by the imagination itself, the ability to consider possibilities.
“One day many years ago, back when I was in middle school, my Civics teacher became ill all of a sudden. A substitute teacher came to take his place. I think he was in his early to mid-twenties. He was a handsome blond gentleman, fairly athletic looking. He didn’t seem like your normal kind of teacher at all. He ignored the instructions our regular teacher had left for him and instead launched into a monologue that went something like this: ‘Everything you know is a lie. Everything you’ve been taught is a lie. History? It’s just a pack of fairy tales. Hey, you, kid!’ He pointed at a popular boy sitting in the front row. ‘Who’s George Washington?’
“The boy laughed nervously, sensing a trick question in the air. ‘Uh… well, uh, the first President of America?’
‘Wrong. The first President of the United States was a man named John Hanson….”
Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University – Long Beach. His most recent book is Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security (OR Books).