A Collection of Conspiracy Theorists

Donald Trump’s national security advisor Michael Flynn is under fire right now for his history of affirming conspiracy theories, like the one about the Clintons running a child sex ring out of a pizza joint, which resulted in a shooting incident last weekend.

As Donald Trump’s national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will have to advise the president of the veracity of foreign and domestic threats, separating those that require immediate policy action from propaganda or misinformation.

But Flynn himself has used social media to promote a series of outrageous conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and their inner circles in recent months — pushing dubious factoids at least 16 times since Aug. 9, according to a POLITICO review of his Twitter posts. Flynn, who has 106,000 Twitter followers, has used the platform to retweet accusations that Clinton is involved with child sex trafficking and has “secretly waged war” on the Catholic Church, as well as charges that Obama is a “jihadi” who “laundered” money for Muslim terrorists.

But let’s not forget that Flynn is not the only one in Trump’s inner circle who has a taste for crazy conspiracy theories. Just last week we learned that his nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services – Tom Price – belongs to a group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

[D]espite the lab coats and the official-sounding name, the docs of the AAPS are hardly part of mainstream medical society. Think Glenn Beck with an MD…The AAPS statement of principles declares that it is “evil” and “immoral” for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid, and its journal is a repository for quackery. Its website features claims that tobacco taxes harm public health and electronic medical records are a form of “data control” like that employed by the East German secret police. An article on the AAPS website speculated that Barack Obama may have won the presidency by hypnotizing voters, especially cohorts known to be susceptible to “neurolinguistic programming”—that is, according to the writer, young people, educated people, and possibly Jews.

Ben Cason is not only unqualified to be Secretary of HUD, he’s also made a name for himself with various conspiracy theories. Specifically, he believes that the pyramids were built, not as tombs for the pharaohs, but to store grain. Carson has also claimed that Barack Obama is part of a communist conspiracy to bring down America, that the theory of evolution came from the devil and that men in prison prove that homosexuality is a choice.

But while it is truly shocking to see people like this put in charge of various aspects of our federal government, it is no surprise, given that they have been chosen by a man who launched his political career with the conspiracy theory that our first African American president was not a citizen. Since that time, Donald Trump has gone on to suggest that a Republican opponent’s father was involved in the assassination of JFK, that thousands of Muslims Americans celebrated on 9/11, that Justice Scalia was murdered, that Obama and Clinton founded ISIS, that Mexico was sending us their drug dealers and rapists, that climate change is a Chinese hoax and that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally (and those are just the tip of the iceberg).

Beyond the millions of people who are likely to be hurt by this administration’s incompetency, we are about to find out if our democratic institutions can withstand this level of insanity. That is a frightening prospect.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.