Over a span of less than 24 hours, America endured two more mass shootings, both carried out by young white men armed with assault rifles, and fed by internet-driven hate. The motivations of El Paso shooter Patrick Crusius and Dayton shooter Connor Betts appear to have been different, with Betts in particular seeming to be driven more by personal animosity and hatred of women than any political cause.
The causes of the two shootings might diverge, but one thing that doesn’t is the conspiracy theories that started up in their wake. The discourse about the El Paso shooting was flooded almost from the first moment with fake news, memes, errors in early reporting, nebulous conspiracy theories, and outright lies.
The Dayton shooting didn’t generate much in the way of conspiracies, but that’s only due to it taking place late on a Saturday night. By then, it was easy enough to lump the two shootings together as part of some kind of vast plot, carried out in two different places by the same shadowy group.
Longtime watchers of the early discourse around mass shootings will recognize everything that was written and said about El Paso, because it’s the same stuff that’s written and said about every mass shooting. They all have the same conspiracy theories, the same fake allegations, the same mistaken eyewitness reports, and the same attempts to flood the news cycle with fakes in order to create chaos.
On April 9th, 1988, a lieutenant in the US Navy was off his naval base for furlough, stopped at the Lil’ Pengiun sandwich shop and ordered a turkey sub with cole slaw and Russian dressing. He finished it quickly, and returned to base.
Exactly 30 years later, a photograph uploaded to image board 4chan showed what many internet researchers believe was a US Navy sub that had run aground on the Sandwich Islands. That sub was speculated to be carrying Nazi gold to a secret base in Antarctica – where the government was preparing to ride out supposed nuclear strike from Russia.
The captain of the submarine? S. Cole.
And the young lieutenant who ordered that sub sandwich? Nathan Gold.
N. Gold = Nazi gold. Submarine. Sandwich. Cole. Russia. Antarctica = penguins.
Obviously, I made that up, and no such person or submarine or sandwich exists.
But it’s a decent example of one of the logical fallacies that powers the conspiracy theory movement in general, and QAnon in particular – the mistaken belief that nothing happens by coincidence or accident, that everything is planned, everything is connected, everything has meaning, and being able to game out what the connections mean is the difference between those who are awake and those who are asleep.
Late on Friday night, South Carolina state representative and Donald Trump endorsee Katie Arrington was seriously injured while riding as a passenger in a car hit by a driver going the wrong way. The driver, 69-year-old Helen White, was killed.
A state legislator involved in a car accident normally isn’t the kind of thing that makes national news, but Arrington just won a tough primary against sitting House member Mark Sanford. In turn, Sanford had drawn the wrath of President Trump after Sanford dared to disparage Trump.
Our thoughts and prayers this morning go to Katie Arrington, her family and those involved in last night’s automobile accident. https://t.co/sV4E90CIj8
On May 2nd, a Puerto Rico Air National Guard C-130 Hercules transport plane crashed on a highway outside Savannah, Georgia. Details of the accident are scarce, but it appears all five nine people on board were killed.
That a C-130 crashed and likely led to multiple deaths is a tragedy, but it’s also not a shock. The C-130 has been flying since the late 1950’s, and has about a 5% attrition rate due to crashes and accidents. It’s a sturdy plane, but the frames are old, and the plane can be unwieldy to fly.
BREAKING: Reports: C-130 aircraft from Air National Guard has crashed near Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.
Like any good role playing game, one of the foundations of the #QAnon conspiracy theory is maps. Q and the others pretending to be Q love making references to maps, tossing out cryptic phrases like “news unlocks map” and “learn to read the map.”
The crux of #QAnon is that a vast secret parallel history of the world has unfolded over the centuries, with powerful families and religious interests shaping events around them to maximize profit, quell dissent, and increase their power over the witless sheep under them. It involves everyone, has its hooks in everything, and is everywhere.