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In my monthly live show, Quiz-o-Tron, in which comedians battle scientists on science trivia, I used to always have a category called “Science According to the Daily Mail.” The Daily Mail used to be a haven for conspiracy theories and bad science reporting, but over the past few years they’ve become more and more mainstream, to the point where I had to really dig through to find the crazy. So I switched to a category on “Science According to Infowars,” Alex Jones’s website, where the crazy has risen to the top like a delicious cream. Chemical weapons that turn frogs gay, 1987 GI Joe cartoons accurately predicting a dystopic future, AI deciding who lives and who dies — they have everything.
Well, almost everything. It turns out, there’s one conspiracy theory currently gaining traction that’s too hot even for Infowars: the claim that there’s a hotbed of child sex trafficking in Arizona currently being covered up by the government. Sound familiar? It sounds a hell of a lot like Pizzagate, the Alex Jones-approved conspiracy theory that Washington politicians like the Clintons were sexually abusing children in the basement of a pizza place. Jones spread the claim around so much that one of his followers went there with a gun to free the kids, firing shots around the room and nearly murdering innocent people.
So why isn’t Jones on board for the Arizona-Pizzagate? Arizzagate I guess? I don’t know, I don’t think it has a hashtag yet.
Jones claims that Arizzagate is a honeypot — a trap to get alt-right conspiracy theorists to show up and be arrested for trespassing. He and his minions claim that the person responsible for spreading this conspiracy theory is possibly a government plant. That plant’s name is Michael Meyer, though for some reason he goes by several completely different names, like Lewis Arthur. Meyer has been involved in several similar alt-right events, like the Bundy ranch stand-off, but Jones’s fans have insisted that this is more proof that he’s an informant.
Despite this opposition from his own side, Meyer has still managed to get people on his side, like Stewart Rhodes, president of Oath Keepers, which Southern Poverty Law Center lists as one of the biggest anti-government organizations in the country. The conspiracy theorists who buy into Arizzagate are gathering supplies and volunteers to storm the supposed sex trafficking site with guns blazing.
I should mention that local and national authorities have looked into these claims and found them completely baseless, but of course that means nothing to these people because they don’t trust the government.
And that’s where things get interesting, to me: the reason why Alex Jones isn’t on board with this is that because now, in the year of our lord 2018, Alex Jones does trust the government. He trusts Donald Trump, who of course considers Jones a friend and an important voice in our media. Jones wrote on Infowars, “it’s not just local police saying that nothing’s there – President Trump’s own DHS, which has been massively busting up human trafficking rings all over the US, has investigated the homeless camp and said nothing is happening there.” That’s right — things are so insane these days that the biggest anti-government conspiracy theorist in the world trusts the federal government because Donald Trump is in charge. Jones believed Pizzagate because Democrats were in charge at the time. He is skeptical of Arizzagate because white nationalists are in charge now.
I’m extremely interested to see how the conspiracy theorist community reacts to this and to future issues like it. Will they continue to be anti-government, stockpiling their guns and keeping their “bug-out” bags at the ready? Or will they let all that go now that the government that agrees with them is in charge? It’s a tricky situation, and the best we can hope for is that they all turn on each other and devour their own movement — hopefully, before someone gets killed in yet another shootout over a pedophile ring that doesn’t exist.