Apologies to readers. Due to the many conspiracy theories and scandals reported on an hourly basis it’s hard to keep up!
Let’s begin with the “latest.”
While Oregon continues to suffer under unprecedented wildfires that are consuming neighborhoods at a record pace, another firestorm is moving at light speed. Some Oregon Facebook members are posting messages like this:
“Has anyone seen or heard of 3 guys with Hoodies throwing bottles of gasoline in the Boring golf course? I know if it’s true, so I’m asking here if anyone knows.”
It doesn’t matter that the sentence is in a form of a question, the match is lit and we’re down the rabbit hole of speculation, rumor, and innuendo while authorities try to douse the flames.
“In no way,” Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara stressed, “does it point towards any political group, including anybody associated with antifa. Any rumors suggesting that it is… are entirely fabricated.”
Welcome to the novel conspiracy virus where the only vaccine is truth.
To tamp down the disease of information, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook, Thursday morning.
“…our dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in Douglas County, Oregon. THIS IS NOT TRUE!”
“Anti-fascist activism in Portland,” the Oregonian reports, “has been in the national spotlight this summer as President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed anti-fascists for violence at nightly racial justice protests.”
Finally, the top law enforcement department weighed in.
“The FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue,” the FBI said in a news release. “Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.”
Meanwhile, back at Conspiracy Central, Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, engaged in an angry, conspiracy-driven rant on Facebook claiming that “career government scientists were engaging in ‘sedition’ in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing ‘hit squads’ were preparing for armed insurrection after the election,” according to The New York Times.
“C.D.C. scientists, ‘haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops’ to plot ‘how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,’ Mr. Caputo said. ‘There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.’ ”
Once again, we have a Trump ally utilizing the same tactic as the president: create a distraction by spreading false conspiracy theories that drive more anger, more distrust and more division.
Once again, we have another Trump appointee with no background in the post he was appointed to a position of responsibility, spreading another false conspiracy theory.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is another loyalist with no background for the position of Postmaster General. However, according to a bipartisan Senate report, under DeJoy’s supervision, the postal service has delayed 7 percent of the nation’s first-class mail. It doesn’t take a genius to conclude what chaos this may create when voters utilize mail-in ballots in November.
However, Caputo’s egregious behavior goes further.
“Mr. Caputo predicted that the president would win re-election in November, but that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., would refuse to concede… ‘And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,’ he said.”
Caputo’s remarks go far beyond criticizing scientists who are removed from politics, he’s now predicting a violent insurrection if the president doesn’t win.
A day later, Caputo apologized for his comments citing personal health issues and is stepping down from his position.
Nonetheless, just like the Antifa wildfire claim in Oregon, the damage is done. Supporters now have another wild and hateful message from a Trump official clearly designed to fuel fear and anger.
Trump’s flagrant march-to-the-sea, do-whatever-it-takes to win strategy continues to foster more division and hate.
Will any of this move the needle for the president’s supporters? Not without the vaccine of truth. Even though it’s widely available, will all of us sign up?
Note: Due to the unexpected death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, “a little joy,” will be postponed.