From the Washington Post:
D.C. Police responding Sunday to a report of a gunman at a popular pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington detained a man armed with an assault rifle, according to a police spokeswoman.
The significance of this is that the pizza restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, has for whatever reason been part of an anti-Clinton conspiracy theory.
The restaurant’s owner and employees were threatened on social media in the days before the election, the New York Times reported, after fake news stories circulated claiming that then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s back rooms. Even Michael Flynn, a retired general who President-elect Trump has tapped to advise him on national security, shared the stories. None of them were true.
That’s right. One of Trump’s national security advisers tweeted this:
Which means he not only believes (or at least pretends to believe) that this kind of activity like this can occur at the highest levels of government without even people like him knowing, but that he trusts ‘sources’ like Truepundit.com.
Unfortunately, conspiracy theories bleed into real life all too often. We can look at the more isolated incidents, like when Joe Stack flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas. Or Jerad and Amanda Miller, who killed two police officers in Las Vegas. Or both Bundy standoffs. Not to mention the entirety of the ‘sovereign citizen’ movement, most infamous for two of its practitioners and hawkers, father and son Joe and Jerry Kane, who murdered two Arkansas police officers. Conspiracy theorists, all of ’em.
Conspiracy king Alex Jones, of course, does not want to take responsibility for stuff like this. A couple years ago he had this to say:
“I do not want to hear that I want a violent revolution so that when the feds blow up another Oklahoma City, I get the blame.”
But if you watch anything by Jones, he constantly talks about how the government is going to kill you and your friends and your family, and that they’re going to do it with grins on their faces. And if you’re lucky enough to be spared by these extermination squads then you’ll live in a supercity and subjected to an even worse degree of slavery than you experience now. You can’t say that stuff day after day, year after year and expect no one to get riled up. Jones doesn’t get to deflect responsibility.
Neither does Trump. Here’s a list of 58 conspiracy theories Trump has promulgated, and that article is from May. So when he retweets white supremacists, it has an effect. You know, like the KKK feeling emboldened enough to organize a motorcade to celebrate Trump’s election.
And it’s not just Donald Trump. That guy Joe Stack who flew his plane into the IRS building in an act of terrorism? Yeah, Iowa Republican representative Steve King basically apologized for and justified Stack’s actions:
It’s sad the incident in Texas happened, but by the same token, it’s an agency that is unnecessary and when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it’s going to be a happy day for America.
Perhaps you remember when Sarah Palin got into hot water for having a map of congressional districts in crosshairs whose representatives voted for Obamacare. One of those was Arizona congresswoman Gabby Gifford, who was later shot in the head.
It’s fortunate that nothing happened here.
And perhaps this guy had no knowledge or connection to the conspiracy theory and that it’s a coincidence. But we have to expect that the perpetuation of conspiracy theories is going to cause people to act, because it already has. And it’s important to remember that this is not a problem isolated to the far-right fringe or Donald Trump—“regular” Republicans are complicit in this, too.
Never mind that struck-through sentence. Guy told police this:
The man told police he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” a false election-related conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton that spread online during her presidential campaign.