Editorial: Trump’s Conspiracy Theories Depict a Gotham City-Like America

Donald Trump’s penchant for telling tall tales and promoting conspiracy theories appears to be escalating, if that’s possible, the closer we get to Election Day. The conspiracy theories that Trump has promoted, including three this week during an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, portray an America that increasingly resembles Gotham City in DC Comics’ Batman. Perhaps Donald Trump fancies himself to be a sort of real-world Batman (“I alone can fix it”). But where Batman’s goal was to vanquish crime and corruption, Donald Trump’s goal, under the pretense of wanting to do the same, appears to be to promote it.

This week’s conspiracy theories included these whoppers:

COVID-19 and the “actual” number of deaths from the virus

Over the weekend, president Trump retweeted a conspiracy theory falsely claiming that only about 6 percent, or 9,000, people in the U.S. had died from COVID-19, instead of the 185,000 widely reported. The tweet, later removed by Twitter for violating its rules, was created by a Twitter user named “Mel Q,” who, not surprisingly, is a believer of the QAnon conspiracy theory. “Mel Q” cited a post on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that said “for 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

The CDC information does not mean that the other 94 percent didn’t die from COVID-19. Many of those who died were listed as also suffering from conditions caused directly by COVID-19, such as “organ failure” or “respiratory failure.” Others had underlying conditions, such as diabetes, that alone might not have been fatal, but that complicate COVID-19.

Australian epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz explained, “When you see that ‘only 6%’ of people had COVID-19 as the sole reason listed on their death forms, what it means is that there were only a small fraction of people who died of the disease who didn’t have any other underlying or immediate causes noted by the medical certifiers. This is completely unsurprising, as it’s pretty rare that someone wouldn’t have at least one issue caused by coronavirus prior to their death, and all it means is that in 94% of cases people who had COVID-19 also developed other issues, or had other problems at the same time.”

People “in the Dark Shadows” are Controlling Joe Biden

In Monday’s interview with Ingraham, Trump said of Joe Biden, “He’s not controlling anything”

“Who do you think is pulling Biden’s strings? Is it former Obama people?” Asked Ingraham.

“People that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows….people that-”

“What does that mean?” Interrupted Ingraham. “That sounds like a conspiracy theory.”

“No, they’re people that you haven’t heard of, they’re people that are on the streets, they’re people that are controlling the streets.”

Thugs on a Plane

And speaking of the people who are “controlling the streets” (and, according to Trump, controlling Joe Biden), Trump continued by telling Ingraham, “We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.” (How they got past the TSA and on that plane, loaded with all that gear, he didn’t explain.)

When Ingraham pressed him about who these people were, or where they came from Trump said, “I’ll tell you sometime. It’s under investigation right now, but they came from a certain city, and this person was coming to the Republican National Convention. And they were like seven people on the plane like this person, and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage.”

At first, Trump seemed to be making this fantastic tale up as he went along. Not long after, however, Ben Collins, of NBC News, tweeted that this was a rumor that had gone viral on Facebook in June (three months before “this weekend,” we should note).

Collins tweeted, “President Trump tonight: ‘We had somebody get on a plane… it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms.’ Viral Facebook rumor from June: ‘At least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black.’”

“This appears to be an extension of the viral ‘Antifa is coming to the suburbs’ trope that went wildly viral on Facebook and text messages in June,” tweeted Collins. “The Idaho Statesman and Payette County Sheriff’s office debunked this specific viral rumor.”

In June, when the demonstrations over George Floyd’s murder by police were starting, social media was full of memes and rumors about Antifa going to demonstration sites to stir up trouble. In turn, some local people chased and harassed innocent peaceful demonstrators.

Trump has never acknowledged that the peaceful demonstrators are anything other than violent troublemakers.

On Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his claim: “A person was on a plane, said that there were about six people like that person, more or less. And what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters— people that obviously were looking for trouble.”

Trump may or may not fully believe this story, but he knows that his base will.

“Very Stupid Rich People” Financing Racial Justice Protests

During his interview with Laura Ingraham, Trump also said that “some very stupid rich people” were bankrolling last week’s racial justice protest in Washington, as well as the demonstrations that have occurred across the U.S. since late May. This hints at the QAnon conspiracy theory that a cabal of wealthy Democratic elites, including billionaire George Soros, are controlling the world with their wealth (and are also satan-worshipping pedophiles, according to QAnon claims).

Soros has been the protagonist of many such conspiracy theories over the years, the most recent being that he is behind the Black Lives Matter movement, and that he “owns” Antifa.

The narrative Donald Trump has created about the current social, civil, and public health crisis in the U.S. appears to grow more desperate as it becomes increasingly laced with falsehood. It relies on fabricated thugs, an imaginary evil cabal of wealthy Democrat elites, and a sinister plot by public health experts to deceive Americans about a deadly pandemic. It casts blame everywhere but on Donald Trump.

We have become accustomed to the regular flood of falsehoods that come out of the White House. We may be tempted to roll our eyes at some of the outlandish conspiracy theories that Trump helps to spread. But a significant number of Americans— those who support Donald Trump— hang on Trump’s every word, and live in  his mythical “Gotham City” along with him.

Offering no proof, Trump alleges plane ‘of thugs’ – News |
Reuters [2020-09-01]

Trump Spreads Conspiracy Theory That Circulated On Facebook Three Months Ago | All In | MSNBC [2020-09-01]

Editorial: Donald Trump’s New Fling: QAnon

Donald Trump’s recent endorsement of Georgia Republican congressional candidate and QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene is yet another indication that Trump’s presidency has nothing to do with the pursuit of truth or integrity, and everything to do with what Trump sees as sustenance for his ego.

Following Greene’s primary win, Trump tweeted, “Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent. Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up – a real WINNER!”

No one should be surprised by Trump’s enthusiastic endorsement of Greene on the basis of her vocal racism and xenophobia. She is a 9/11 truther, and has made statements that Muslims don’t belong in government, that members of the Black Lives Matter movement are “idiots,” and that “the most mistreated group of people in the United States today are white males.” Those statements fit perfectly with the ideology of Donald Trump.

When one digs further into the sinister cult-like QAnon movement itself, however, it may be hard to understand why anyone, especially the president of the United States, could consider a QAnon supporter to be fit for a public office— until one discovers that the prevailing QAnon conspiracy theories are about Donald Trump, himself.

The currently dominant (and baseless) QAnon conspiracy claims that a cabal of Satan-worshipping and blood-drinking pedophiles that includes politicians and A-list celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Bill Gates, and of course…the Democrats, are in cahoots with governments around the globe to engage in child sex trafficking. (They conveniently leave out all of those images of Trump himself partying with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.) Followers also believe there is a “deep state” that wants to take down Trump. Why? Because Donald Trump has arrived on the scene to vanquish them.

Other QAnon conspiracy theories involve mass shootings (such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, which they claim didn’t really happen), and now the coronavirus (including the idea that 5G cellular networks spread the virus).

Greene posted a video on social media, in which she says, “There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it.”

One would expect a rational person to either be horrified but this cult-like movement, or to laugh at its absurdity. Not Donald Trump. Trump is not a reader, and we know that he is not a critical thinker or an avid consumer of factual information, even if someone were to read it to him. His comprehension of the QAnon movement stops at “I understand they like me very much.” That’s all Trump needs in order to embrace it.

When a reporter told Trump that the crux of QAnon is the belief that he is “secretly saving the world from this Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals,” Trump responded, “Well I haven’t heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?”

Trump doesn’t appear to care that he is legitimizing a dangerous cult-like movement that the FBI considers a “domestic terrorist threat.” The FBI has catalogued QAnon as an “anti-government, identity-based, and fringe political (web of) conspiracy theories” that “very likely motivate some domestic extremists to commit criminal, sometimes violent activity.”

For Donald Trump, all that matters is that “QAnon supporters like me very much, which I appreciate” (and therefore, “They love our country”).

Upon learning that QAnon sees him as somewhat of a Christlike figure, Trump also said, “If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there… And we are actually. We’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country, and when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow.”

Though QAnon may have become Donald Trump’s favorite conspiracy theory (what narcissist wouldn’t love to be seen as a messiah, even if by lunatics?), he has promoted at least 25 additional conspiracy theories since his candidacy. Another favorite recent Trump conspiracy theory centers on the question of Kamala Harris’ citizenship and qualifications for the office of Vice President, based on the fact that her parents were immigrants. (Harris, born in Oakland, California, is an American citizen.) And who could forget the similar theory around President Barack Obama’s birth certificate? Additionally, there’s the battery of disinformation and conspiracy around the coronavirus— its origin, scale, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Donald Trump’s legacy will include the conspiracy culture that he has fostered, and in part, created.

QAnon and similar movements support Donald Trump’s worldview, and any movement that does that, no matter how false, dangerous, or violent, will be embraced by Donald Trump, because the only truth that interests him is his truth.

Many high-ranking House Republican leaders have distanced themselves from Marjorie Taylor Greene and from QAnon. After Trump legitimized the movement, however, some have changed their stance and are now supporting Greene. As these leaders continually demonstrate, they, too, tend to align with Trump’s truth.

“The president has weakened the antibodies in the Republican Party against nutty conspiracy theories because the president himself believes in them,” said journalist and CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

With every retweet and remark supporting unfounded QAnon conspiracy theories and their believers, Donald Trump gives them more credibility and authority. And each time Trump chooses his ego over his country, he adds to the glut of political and medical disinformation— and ignorance—  filling our country. The result is the moral, spiritual, physical, and even financial price Americans are now paying. And when Donald Trump endorsed QAnon supporter Marjory Taylor Greene, he demonstrated, again, that he was more than willing for us to pick up the tab.

President Trump not shying from support of QAnon conspiracy theorists |
CBS This Morning [2020-08-20]

Trump PRAISES QAnon supporters | The Hill {2020-08-19]