The mass shooting in Las Vegas was horrific and a tragic loss of human life. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones and like everyone else we ask, what would drive a person, seemingly wealthy and with access to more resources than most, to cause such a disgusting act of violence?
While the facts still are coming out in the Las Vegas shooting case, already it is the most deadly massacre of modern US history, leaving 59 people dead, surpassed only by the 1890 slaughter at Wounded Knee which left upwards of 300 Native people dead at the hands of the US Cavalry, and the Colfax massacre in 1873 in Louisiana of African-Americans by Southern Democrats. Despite the carnage, much as with the Sandy Hook shooting, already the far-Right has attempted to hijack the tragedy to fit into it’s own narrative.
When put together, none of these conspiracy theories make any sense, and all are easily debunked. However, for the cottage industry of far-Right v-bloggers, radio hosts, and hack pundits, the sewage seeping out of 4chan’s /pol/ board and straight into the top search results of Google and Facebook, is big business. And what better time than during a national tragedy to interject your own falsehoods, talking points, and better yet, list of enemies, into the national discourse?
And as the Right will attempt to spin the tragedy in terms of cultural war or in a conspiratorial nod against ‘left wing violence,’ liberals and Centrists will stick to their milquetoast talking points about the need for gun control. Both of these positions are located squarely within capitalist democracy, organized around lines of white supremacy, and built on an industrial system which is pushing us all towards the brink of destruction.
In short, all of the camps within the elites, from the neoliberals, to the far-Right, to the neoconservatives, all really have nothing to add to the conversation about why mass shootings keep happening in the United States; nothing to add but their own tired talking points and bullshit.
/POL/ Station: The False Flag Industry
On the morning of October 2nd, Alex Jones continued the time honored tradition of far-Right trolls recording videos while they drive. In his video, he weaved a tangled web of conspiracy theories and attempted to link both social movements, the ongoing #TakeAKnee protests, ISIS, and ‘globalist’ elites together into one meta-narrative, along with his conception that an “October Revolution,” or civil war, is starting. Another InfoWars host, David Knight, echoed these sentiments, calling the shooting in Las Vegas a false flag designed to take guns away from US citizens, and bring in a second Bolshevik revolution.
Without citing any evidence, Jones pushed his version of events to millions of listeners. As Salon wrote:
Based on his “own intel” and his “own research,” a revolution is starting. He mentions his CIA and pentagon contacts, without citing any names, in a later video from his Infowars studio.
To Jones, this is just another example of the left starting violent revolution in collusion with Islamic terrorists, citing “racial divides” that are coming from peaceful protests to police violence, and self analysis as a country regarding civil war statues.
“Anything to get the right wing going,” he says.
Infowars radio host and conspiracy theory architect Alex Jones cited his relationship with President Trump to support his claims that the mass shooting in Las Vegas yesterday was the result of a liberal conspiracy and that the accused shooter was a “patsy and he was set up.”
“I mean, I had a former guy that ran CIA operations on yesterday. I talk to the president sometimes. It’s not like my sources aren’t real,” Jones said. “Hell, Matt Drudge gave me the only interview in the last two years.”
Professional Alt-Lite hack Laura Loomer, who recently gained 15 minutes of fame for blaming an old tire that had cracked on antifascist protesters, took this line of thinking even further, claiming that Steven Paddock’s girlfriend was a Muslim and that dark forces were at work behind the scenes.
Loomer would go on to speak on InfoWars, claiming a clear connection between the shooter and antifascists, in a predictably laughable way. Loomer claims that because the hotel promised to donate money to Centrist extremist watchdog non-profits after ‘Unite the Right,’ that this proves that there was a connection between the shooter and the antifascist movement:
Today, Jones hosted right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who claimed to possess an internal memo from the Mandalay Bay hotel, where the shooter booked a suite overlooking the country music concert he planned to attack, announcing it would match employee donations to anti-extremism organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, and Southern Poverty Law Center following the violent white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That memo, the duo claimed, somehow validated theories that the shooter was connected to militant Islamist and Antifa groups.
Loomer told Jones that she thought the accused shooter, Stephen Paddock, was a “hardcore leftist with Antifa connections who became radicalized through ISIS” and that she believed ISIS’ claim that it was responsible for the mass shooting, despite the FBI’s statement that the attacker had no known ties to foreign groups.
However, neo-Nazi and Alt-Right trolls on 4chan were ultimately the most successfully, as they reported shortly after the shooting that they had “found the killer” on various Instagram and Facebook accounts. Unsurprisingly, these ‘suspects’ were also liberals or Leftists, and were thus used by trolls to promote a far-Right narrative surrounding the Vegas shooting. So far, both law enforcement and others have yet to find any sort of motive for the killing, and family members of Paddock describe him as having no affiliations to speak of.
Taking this information from /pol/, conspiracy hack blog The Gateway Pundit, home to such Alt-Lite writers as Lucian Wintrich, ran with the story that liberal Geary Danley was in fact the shooter, and drew attention to the fact that Danley belonged to a series of anti-Trump groups on Facebook. The post was quickly removed by the website as more information came out, but once again shows the relationship between Alt-Right and neo-Nazi trolls on /pol/ and their friends in more ‘established’ far-Right blogs and websites that have access and connections to the White House. Lucian Wintrich also went on InfoWars, guest hosted by disgraced hack Jack Posobiec, to defend his publication.
But as Buzzfeed News reports, even more disturbing was the fact that threads on /pol/ about the shooting made their way onto Facebook and past the ‘fake news filters’ as well as the top of Google news, even being highlighted. Ironically, Google has also recently taken to censoring “fake news,” which in reality has amountted to taking out left-wing and antiwar websites from its search engine. Websites such as The World Socialist Website have written about this extensively, and it is clear that Google’s war against ‘fake news’ in reality is a war against certain kinds of information. What is disturbing then, is that Google would choose to highlight and promote some of the most guttural racist trash on the internet; and also from a source known for mobilizing trolls to purposely produce and promote false and misleading information.
Other rumors attempted to directly make a connection between social movements and the shooter. This included attempts by a fake antifascist Melbourne Facebook page run by Alt-Right trolls to claim the shooter as “a comrade,” as well as lies that the shooter had attended anti-Trump protests. While these conspiracies theories and literal fake news were quickly debunked, they still went viral in far-Right, pro-Trump, and Alt-Right circles while speaking to the fears and anxieties of the larger Right.
Choking on the Red Pill
At the heart of the Right reaction to Vegas was also the idea that only they were attempting to ‘unite the nation,’ while the Left was ‘virtue signaling’ talking points about gun control. While of course it is true that liberals quickly took to talking about gun control, it is also true that the far-Right used the opportunity to push its own talking points. In short, “both sides” did exactly the same thing.
Evangelicalist Pat Robertson took the opportunity to attack African-American protesters, both in St. Louis and in the NFL, claiming that disrespect for the country and the President had led to the shooting itself. Other religious Right figures also similarly claimed that the shooting was an act of an angry god. Richard Spencer’s website, AltRight.com, argued that Paddock’s biracial relationship was the cause of the shooting. Vincent Law, who penned various articles encouraging people to attend “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, wrote:
Quick question: did Paddock’s love for diversity in his bed make him a more tolerant and happy person, free of hate? Or did it motivate him to shoot up an overwhelmingly White concert?
Unite the Right attendee and former Seattle area College Republican organizer James Allsup argued that the entire event could possibly be a media conspiracy, while other Alt-Right social media personalities called various aspects of the attack “fake.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the other far-Right trolls, ISIS, were quick to claim that not only the attack was carried out in it’s name, but that also the shooter had converted is Islam months ago. However, according to both the FBI and other law enforcement, this is simply not the case. In the past, ISIS was also claimed other horrific acts in it’s name, despite there being no connection. Many on the Right however refused to accept this. Writing for the Oath Keepers militia, David Codrea wrote:
News services are scrambling to uncover what happened in last night’s massacre in Las Vegas, to be first in revealing some unknown dimension to a story that has the attention of the world. That’s led to conflicting accounts about the shooter—or in some accounts “shooters, and about motives (ISIS has already claimed responsibility, which the FBI denies) and about practically everything.
The blame and hatred coming from the citizen disarmament camp is palpable. Celebrities are piling on. Politicians and gun-grab zealots are dancing in the blood, which they blame on NRA, on “conservatives,” on whites, and on anyone else the collectivists choose to smear as “Nazis” and “fascists.”
Codrea’s rant ends with stating that the “hard left” (by this he means, the Democratic Party), will soon move to take away guns from American citizens, a common refrain from the militia movement, and a central concept within white nationalist literature, such as The Turner Diaries.
The Tin-Foil Hat Push Towards November 4th
From InfoWars to The New American, major sections of the far-Right have been promoting over the last few weeks the idea that on November 4th “antifa” and the Left in general, is going to launch of civil war. Their evidence is simply based around the fact that on November 4th, the anti-Trump group, Refuse Fascism, is calling for rallies and marches across the US.
As The New American, the mouthpiece for the John Birch Society wrote:
The communists in the Antifa crowd are planning to begin a revolution in America on Saturday, November 4 — almost exactly 100 years after the Bolshevik Revolution that took Russia out of the frying pan of Tsarist rule and into the fire of communist totalitarianism. While some see Antifa activists as the modern heroes of anti-Fascism — fighting against racism, sexism, and a litany of other “isms” — and others see them merely as the snowflake crowd of spoiled brats demanding free everything, the reality is that Antifa is one tool in the communists’ toolbox to bring America to her knees. And Saturday, November 4, 2017, is the day they have chosen for the opening salvo in the American Bolshevik Revolution.
Ironically, the same group organizing the November 4th rallies also held a series of similar demonstrations on July 15th, under the slogan, “Drive Out the Trump Regime,” which led many of the same far-Right actors claiming that there was going to be a “Summer of Rage.” According to sites like InfoWars and Breitbart, this “Summer of Rage” would engulf the US in violent riots and was financed by the Democratic Party. Of course, the riots never came to pass, but July 15th events did see militias and other far-Right groups show up to to harass and intimidate small groups of Refuse Fascism demonstrators, often while heavily armed.
Just as with the various ‘Rapture’ predictions which never come to pass, but continously are pushed back, when the “Summer of Rage” came and went, there of course was no reflection from InfoWars or other far-Right media outlets as to why they were in fact wrong. As antifascist analyst Spencer Sunshine pointed out in our podcast with him, “It’s almost like these people live in a perpetual present.” By this he means that concepts of history, facts, and looking back and analyzing their assertions is never done. These people do not have an analysis, or way of critically looking at the world and their assertions, and instead they have a narrative which they use as they see fit to attempt to justify their actions and give credence to their movement.
At the end of the day, this is why the far-Right and the Alt-Right needs conspiracy theories, because they need to constantly justify their existence to themselves and their base of support. With the lies of large sections of the Right on display in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, let’s use this opportunity to point out just how stupid these fear mongers are, and how they are attempting to hijack a tragedy to serve their own ends.