By Juan Cole / Informed Comment

Editor’s note: This article was posted on the author’s site on Tuesday. That same day, as The New York Times reported, Donald Trump fired Michael G. Flynn “for using Twitter to spread a fake news story about Hillary Clinton that led to an armed confrontation in a pizza restaurant in Washington.”

Imagine if they had been Muslims. What if a Muslim publication pushed a false conspiracy theory accusing high American officials and an ordinary American restaurant of being involved in child abuse? and then an unbalanced Muslim went into it and shot off a firearm on the premises? They’d all be in Gitmo before sundown the same day.

On Sunday, a Trump supporter walked into a pizzeria in DC Northwest and allegedly fired a gun inside. Patrons in the restaurant ran for their lives, little children bawling in terror. The alleged perpetrator said he was investigating a child trafficking ring run out of the restaurant, connected to John Podesta and Hillary Clinton (there is no such ring).

Breitbart.com, the American white nationalist version of Der Völkischer Beobachter, is run by its CEO, Steve Bannon. His predecessor, Andrew Breitbart, had started the meme that John Podesta and therefore Hillary Clinton were somehow linked to a pedophilia ring. Bannon had his magazine continue that line.

This year, under Bannon’s editorship, the Breitbart.com twitter account tweeted out a bizarre and patently false conspiracy theory that a neighborhood pizzeria in Washington, D.C., was the site of a child trafficking ring to which Hilary Clinton was connected.

The national news networks are letting Bannon skate on this.

Although it was rumored that incoming National Security Advisor Mike Flynn tweeted out the great Pizzeria Conspiracy, that allegation is apparently incorrect. But the truth is worse.

Flynn tweeted under the hashtag #spiritcooking, which refers to the elaborate conspiracy theory that falsely attempted to tie John Podesta and Hillary Clinton to a satanic ritual.

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Here is an informed comment about this tweet:

In early November before election day, Breitbart did articles on people alleging spirit-cooking as a satanic ritual in which Hillary Clinton was involved.

Let me repeat. Steve Bannon is the editor of Breitbart. He is responsible for this bilge.

Flynn frequently depends on Breitbart.com, Bannon’s witches brew of fake news and Neonazism, for his information.

Flynn’s son took the position that the pizzeria dark fantasy is true until proven false.

Uh, I don’t think that’s how it works, that people say batshit crazy things and they’re true until conspiracy theorists admit they have been refuted.

Flynn Jr., by the way, is formally on the White House transition team. Yes. (Pence is denying this but Mr. Flynn has a transition email and has been seen at Trump tower per @blakehounshell of Politico.)

I would just like to remind everyone that Bannon and Flynn Sr. will be in the executive branch. Both will have de facto ability to call on the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency (both of which will likely also be headed by the Tinfoil Hat Brigade) to perform tasks they believe relate to national security. In COINTELPRO and more recent incidents, the White House used those agencies against domestic dissidents. There are going to be a hell of a lot of domestic dissidents, folks.

Ed Snowden warned us that the NSA can watch you typing your email messages in real time if it just knows your email address.

The idea that Bannon and Flynn will have that kind of power to spy on ordinary Americans is terrifying. I suggest the owner of that pizzeria get off line and throw away his smart phone. He should also sue the originators of the crazy conspiracy theory, and maybe anyone who defended it, for libel.

This crew of stark raving paranoids is bad enough when they just open their mouths. Worse is the implicit promotion of armed violence against the innocent victims of their conspiracy theories. This tactic is an old National Socialist one. After all, alleging that children are being trafficked by your political enemies is a way of making them appear to be monsters who must be stopped By Any Means Necessary. The firing of an assault rifle on those premises was foreseeable by a prudent person. I’d like to suggest that it is also foreseeable that the lives of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta are in similar peril.

So if Bannon had a decent bone in his body, he’d come out right now and apologize for pushing this kind of rank bullshit into the political cybersphere, and would resign beforehand from the White House on the grounds that no one with his wretched values should be allowed to darken the doorstep of so august an edifice.

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