Many prominent conspiracy theory peddlers who inaccurately predicted a violent uprising from the left this weekend are now exploiting an unrelated mass shooting in a last-ditch effort to claim that they were right all along.
After the left-wing group Refuse Fascism announced plans to host demonstrations across the nation on November 4, right-wing pundits, even Fox News personalities, attributed the protests to ‘Antifa’ and issued hysterical warnings that the left was planning an uprising that would lead to national conflict reminiscent of the Civil War.
Some right-wing websites and commentators, including the White House press-credentialed news outlet Gateway Pundit, attempted to build hysteria by citing a comedian’s tweet mocking the exact fear mongering they were engaging in. The whole thing was debunked as a hoax, but that didn’t stop right-wing fever swamps from continuing to push claims that violent protests would erupt on Saturday.
On Saturday, when it was apparent that protesters had no actual intention of launching a violent uprising, the same right-wing conspiracy theorists began to scramble, searching for any kind of validation of their prior claims.
Jack Posobiec, an Infowars contributor and avid conspiracy theorist partly responsible the spread of the “Pizzagate” hoax, mocked the low turnout at one protest and questioned whether Antifa had “cucked out.” Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson also mocked protester turnout. But as news broke of a mass shooting at a Texas church on Sunday, right-wing conspiracy theorists found a morbid opportunity to distract from their bogus forecasting.
Alex Jones, the architect of the conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, hyped the November 4 protests incessantly last week, but the day after protests proved to be nonviolent, he spread unproven allegations that the man who shot and killed 26 people at a Texas church over the weekend was connected to Antifa and questioned whether the shooting was a “part of the Antifa revolution against Christians and conservatives” or involved ISIS.
Right-wing social media pundit Mike Cernovich also attempted to link the shooting to Antifa after his warnings of a violent uprising failed to deliver. Even Neo-Nazi internet troll Tim Gionet, a.k.a. “Baked Alaska,” joined in and claimed the shooting was proof of “a war on Christian conservatives in our country.” The Rebel Media’s John Cardillo also claimed that the shooter was connected to Antifa.
During the pre-protest hype, Posobiec warned his followers of a violent uprising from the left and publicized a Facebook comment from an alleged Antifa member who advocated for “going after” churches, which gained momentum among far-right social media pundits as supposed proof that anti-fascist protesters were responsible for the shooting.
Self-described “anarchist news website and platform” It’s Going Down, which was pictured in the post, denied the post’s authenticity and alleged the screenshots were fake. Posobiec told Right Wing Watch that he “didn’t Photoshop a thing,” providing a handful of screenshots, which he later posted publicly, claiming that the page had deleted the original comments.
“Posobiec shared four screenshots as ‘evidence’ of a connection between the Texas shooter and ‘Antifa,’ which by now has obviously be proven not to be true,” James Anderson, a representative of It’s Going Down said. “Half of the people that post on the IGD Facebook are Alt-Right trolls, which we delete and ban almost daily.”
Conspiracy theorists on the Right have repeatedly warned of an impending “civil war” being plotted by members of the left, but have repeatedly been proven wrong. Their immediate exploitation of the tragedy in Texas shows just how far they are willing to go in order to push this narrative.