Ultima Thule is a Latin term meaning as far out there as you can go. Thule was a, probably, imaginary British island far to the north, according to the Greeks. Then it became Greenland and then anywhere far north. ‘Ultimate Thule’ eventually came to mean a place as far as you can imagine.
‘Thule’ is used by a brand of roof racks and the US base in Greenland.
It was, among its many countless uses also picked up by the Thule Society, a bunch of proto-Nazi occult whackjobs who claimed that there was a superior Aryan civilization in the center of the earth. Yes, like Journey to the Center of the Earth, but with more Nazis and fewer dinosaurs.
(Basically, they’d be at home on Twitter and the Bronze Age Pervert Alt-Right today as long as they spelled ‘what’, ‘wat’.)
The Thule Society was one of the crazy ingredients in the Nazi stew before being marginalized for making the Nazis look a little too weird. And also not having anything very helpful to offer beyond contributing to the pagan occult roots of the Third Reich and inspiring an Indiana Jones movie.
And then this happened.
Ultima Thule, the farthest cosmic body ever visited by a spacecraft, has been renamed Arrokoth, or “sky” in the Native American Powhatan language, following a backlash over the previous name’s Nazi connotations.
The icy rock, which orbits in the dark and frigid Kuiper Belt about a billion miles beyond Pluto, was surveyed by the NASA spaceship New Horizons in January, with images showing it consisted of two spheres stuck together in the shape of a snowman.
Its technical designation is 2014 MU69, but the New Horizon team nicknamed it Ultima Thule (pronounced Tool-ey) after a mythical northern land in classical and medieval European literature described as beyond the borders of the known world.
That name sparked an angry reaction as it was co-opted by far-right German occultists in the early 20th century as the fabled ancestral home of “Aryan” people—the term they used to describe proto-Indo-Europeans.
Ultima Thule was used for over a thousand years before a fairly obscure proto-Nazi occult organization made use of it. Thule is so widely used that the idea that it’s now associated with a German fantasy cult is insane.
But cancel culture kicks in anyway.
Naming the farthest cosmic body ‘Ultima Thule’ made perfect sense because that embodies the meaning of the name. It has nothing to do with the Thule Society. Renaming it Arrokoth is silly, because, among other things, that’s not an actual Indian word, It’s a game of broken telephone which attempted to reconstruct an extinct language and is very doubtfully an actual word that anyone really used.
NASA chose a name with deep roots in history, myth and legend. Then it got canceled and replaced with a made-up word invented by white people.
Sorry icy rock, you’ve been canceled. It’s probably best that you’re the farthest cosmic object we ever visited. You don’t want to be around our planet right now.