Donald Trump’s obsession with conspiracy theories didn’t come out of nowhere.
Before the GOP presidential frontrunner started winning the backing of Republican leaders, he assembled a team of ardent right-wing conspiracy theorists whose bigoted and bizarre beliefs once put them decidedly on the fringe of American politics.
Trump himself has spread a wide range of bizarre and bogus claims, winning state after state by questioning the facts about President Obama’s birthplace and religion, bashing immigrants as “killers and rapists,” parading discredited stories to demonize Muslim-Americans and, at one point, linking an opponent’s father to the Kennedy assassination.
As more “establishment” and “mainstream” Republicans declare their support for Trump, it is critical to remember the people whom Trump initially invited into his campaign: a range of pundits and preachers who have pushed racist, xenophobic and truly insane beliefs throughout their careers.
No endorser was out of bounds for Trump, whether it was a pastor who believes Starbucks injects semen from gay men into its lattes in order to spread Ebola or a radio host who thinks that alien creatures secretly run the government.
These activists have now also become some of Trump’s most outspoken defenders. And, in return, Trump has elevated their profiles by appearing on their radio programs, inviting them to share the stage with him and even praising them to national audiences.
Trump’s apparent victory in the Republican presidential primary gives these figures an unprecedented platform from which to spew their paranoia and bigotry. And it presents a strange turning point at which conspiracy theories that previously only lurked around the edges of political discourse are suddenly thrust to center stage.
The fact that the Republican Party is about to nominate a candidate who has embraced conspiracy theorist broadcaster Alex Jones is downright terrifying.
Trump appeared on Jones’ radio show in December, when he was already the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, and complimented Jones for his “amazing” reputation.
Trump’s top confidant, Roger Stone, a conservative operative who has called for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to be killed, has been on Jones’ show nearly every week during the campaign. The two are even working together on an effort to track down Republican delegates who don’t support Trump and hound them at their hotel rooms at the party convention in Cleveland.
Jones has bragged that he advises Trump off-air and took credit for the candidates’ conspiracy theory about Rafael Cruz, the father of Trump’s former rival Ted Cruz, being involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
When Trump falsely claimed that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated on 9/11, he cited a post on Jones’ InfoWars website and told Jones during an appearance on his program that his assertion was correct because people on Twitter told him so.
Jones’ “news” program is a natural outlet for Trump, as poll after poll shows that Trump supporters disproportionately subscribe to shocking conspiracy theories, including ones championed by Jones and by the candidate himself.
It’s hard to describe how utterly bizarre Jones’ worldview is and how unbelievable it is that a major presidential candidate is promoting it.
Jones has broadcast numerous “false flag” conspiracy theories, alleging that the U.S. government was involved in the September 11 attacks; the Oklahoma City bombing; and the massacres of school children in Newtown, Connecticut, black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado, and police officers in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jones thinks that President Obama is literally “a demonic creature” who is out to assassinate Trump after successfully murdering Justice Antonin Scalia and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, and that he, along with Pope Francis, is determined to kill anywhere between 90 million and 1 billion people. He also says that “chemtrails” from the backs of planes spread a deadly “weaponized flu.”
He even believes that juice boxes are turning children gay — “the reason there’s so many gay people now is because it’s a chemical warfare operation!” — and that the LGBT rights movement is bent on the extermination of humanity.
Like Trump, Jones is a vocal critic of vaccines: Both have wrongly suggested that they cause autism.
Jones has also targeted Justin Bieber, claiming that the Canadian pop star is trying to brainwash children as part of a plot to disarm Americans and create a police state, and Beyoncé, telling his audience that she is a CIA plant out to stir racial violence and “literally” eat the brains of children.
And that’s not all.
Jones believes that an “alien force, not of this world,” is specifically targeting Trump, and has frequently promoted the claim that shape-shifting reptilian humanoids from outer space surreptitiously control the world, regularly hosting David Icke, one of the leading propagators of this belief, as an expert guest.
In one segment, Jones dressed up as a space lizard in a top hat to explain the “origins of Obamacare.”
Hoping that “no amount of fluoride in the water” can stop Trump, Jones has used threatening language against the GOP candidate’s critics, calling Hillary Clinton a “bitch,” telling Bernie Sanders supporters that they need to have their “jaws broken,” and urging conservative writer George Will to “put a .357 Magnum to your head and blow what little is left of your brains out all over yourself” after he wrote a column condemning Trump.
Trump has become a regular guest on “The Savage Nation,” a right-wing radio program hosted by Michael Savage that has the fifth-largest radio audience in the country, often appearing on the show immediately before primary election days in order to drum up support from Savage’s listeners.
It was on Savage’s program that Trump wondered if Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered, denounced Jewish people who support Obama and suggested that the president doesn’t want to fight terrorism and may have “evil intentions” with regard to Syrian refugees. Trump also told Savage that he will appoint ultraconservative jurists to the Supreme Court and would consider naming Savage himself to a position in his administration.
Savage, who calls himself “the architect of Trump’s messaging,” has told his listeners that Trump based his immigration policies on one of his books.
He believes that God is lifting Trump to victory, hailing the candidate as “the Winston Churchill of our time” and hoping that he will become a dictator who rules by decree and stop Obama before he begins arresting and killing Americans en masse. Trump has returned the favor, thanking Savage for his “amazing” support and praising him as a “special guy” who would bring “common sense” if he were to join the government.
Savage gained widespread notoriety back in 2003 when, on his short-lived television program, he lashed out at a gay caller by saying:
Oh, you’re one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How’s that? Why don’t you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today — go eat a sausage and choke on it. Get trichinosis.
Savage has not moderated since then.
He lashed out at veterans with PTSD, saying that they are “a bunch of losers” who “cry like a little baby” and have turned America into “a weak, sick nation.” (Ironically, Savage himself says he suffers “post-radio stress disorder” from reporting on the Obama family.)
Savage has also called autism is “a fraud” and argued that seltzer water causes insanity.
He claims that Obama is a Hitler-like leader bent on rounding up conservatives, staging shootings like the massacre in Charleston, setting up internment camps and death camps, beheading his critics, nullifying the upcoming election, creating a private army composed of Crips and Bloods gang members and Syrian refugees, and committing white genocide — a claim which he backed up by citing a prophesy from a Mayan woman he saw on television.
With a long record of violent rhetoric, Savage seems excited about the prospect of fighting in a race war between white conservatives and Obama, telling listeners that the president is a secret Muslim determined to ban dogs and deliberately spread diseases like Ebola.
“You have Satan in the White House,” he said last year. “Get the child out of the White House. He is going to set the nation on fire like he set the world on fire. Stop him before he kills all of us.”
Like Savage, far-right columnist Ann Coulter has claimed credit for shaping Trump’s extremist stance on immigration. Trump has invited her to speak at a number of his campaign rallies, including one at which she declared that God is using Trump’s candidacy to save America.
While Coulter has long managed to attract attention by making over-the-top remarks, such as when she declared her opposition to women’s suffrage, called John Edwards a “faggot” and smeared a group of 9/11 widows as “people enjoying their husbands’ death,” she has recently become almost single-mindedly focused on the issue of immigration, dazzling Trump with her warnings about “Latin American rape culture” and the “browning of America.”
Where do you think all that spicy stuff about Mexican rape culture came from? @realDonaldTrump got an advance copy. https://t.co/HBL3z59JIG
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) July 2, 2015
.@AnnCoulter‘s new book– “Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole”– is a great read. Good job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2015
“Ann’s been amazing,” Trump said earlier this year. “I’m a big fan and you know that.”
Indeed, Trump’s extremist plan of mass deportation, constructing a massive border wall, impounding remittances, expelling refugees and curtailing legal immigration seems to resemble the proposals laid out in Coulter’s book, “Adios, America: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole,” in which she called on the government to adopt draconian policies to curb both lawful and unlawful immigration and refugee resettlement programs because, in her view, America has too many Latinos.
Coulter has urged GOP candidates to win elections by stoking anti-immigrant sentiment and “unapologetically opposing the transformation of America into a Third World country.”
Coulter claims that unless immigration is drastically curbed, parents will have to “get used to your little girls being raped” because “gang rape, child rape, elder rape, and murder rape are highly correlated with specific ethnic groups — ethnic groups we are bringing to America by the busload.”
Those who back immigration reform, according to Coulter, deserve to be targeted by “death squads,” just as immigrants who overstay their visas should get the death penalty. Coulter, who said that Trump “won me over with that Mexican rapist speech,” has praised the presumptive GOP nominee’s “genius” plan to ban Muslims from entering the country and has hailed his anti-immigrant plan as “the greatest political document since the Magna Carta.”
If Trump doesn’t win the election, Coulter has warned, it’s “lights out for the entire world for a thousand years,” as only Trump will stop changes to the “demographics of the country.”
“Thank God, and I am not using the Lord’s name in vain, I mean that absolutely literally, thank God for raising up Donald Trump and giving us a chance to save the country,” she said.
Ahead of the crucial Florida primary, Trump released a statement touting the endorsement he received from Pastor Carl Gallups, and then asked Gallups to deliver the invocation at a campaign rally in Pensacola.
Gallups and Trump share a passion for promoting birther conspiracy theories and denouncing the Common Core academic standards, which Gallups warns will ensure that “our smallest children in pre-school” will learn about “the mechanics of homosexual sex.”
Homosexuality has been a major focus of Gallups’ activism; he has repeatedly warned that same-sex marriage will completely destroy society by bringing about economic turmoil, severe persecution, the “enslavement” of Christians and divine punishment.
“This ruling may prove to be the final death knell of divine judgment upon our once great nation,” he said in response to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on marriage equality.
Gallups has also latched on to the Sandy Hook truther movement, which claims that the government faked the murder of schoolchildren and educators in Newtown, Connecticut, in order to justify new restrictions on firearms.
He called the massacre a “hoax” and said that grieving parents were actually crisis actors.
“[T]his dude is a Hollywood actor, his so-called wife is a Hollywood actor,” he said of two parents who lost children in the shooting.
A Trump spokeswoman said that the campaign “was not aware” of Gallups’ views, but the campaign still boasts of his endorsement on its website.
Unsurprisingly, Gallups has also speculated about whether Obama is the Antichrist, ultimately concluding that while the president is “an anti-Christ,” it is more likely that “he is a depiction of some of the characteristics of the anti-Christ who is to come.”
Trump was very proud to land the endorsement of Robert Jeffress, a prominent Southern Baptist preacher and Fox News contributor who has hit the trail with the candidate at a number of events.
At one rally, Trump invited Jeffress to join him on stage as he decried the supposed persecution of Christians in America through the “War on Christmas” and lamented that he wouldn’t have been criticized if he had proposed a ban on Christians from entering the U.S., as he did with Muslims.
Jeffress made waves in the last presidential election when, after endorsing Rick Perry, he told Christians that they shouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney because of his Mormon faith, which wasn’t too surprising since he once blasted Mormonism as “a cult” from “the pit of hell.”
Jeffress has similarly stated that Satan created Roman Catholicism, declared that Jews, Mormons, Muslims and gay people are all destined for hell and maintained that President Obama “is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”
No fan of the gay community, Jeffress believes that gays and lesbians are “perverse” people who are either pedophiles or likely to abuse children in the future; compared homosexuality to bestiality and called it “a miserable lifestyle”; accused gay people of using “brainwashing techniques” to have homosexuality “crammed down our throats”; said that gay people “are engaged in the most detestable, unclean, abominable acts you can imagine”; predicted that the gay rights movement “will pave the way for that future world dictator, the Antichrist”; and labeled homosexuality a “filthy practice” that will lead to the “implosion of our country.”
James David Manning
Update: Following the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, James David Manning said he was outraged by Trump’s remarks expressing support for the LGBT community and has withdrawn his support. “Sodomy is more dangerous to America than radical Islam,” he said.
Among the pastors invited to Trump Tower for what the GOP presidential candidate described as an endorsement meeting in December was James David Manning, who proudly endorsed Trump and stood beside him as he spoke to press about the event.
“I’m going to have and enjoy a long relationship with Mr. Trump,” Manning said after the meeting. “I pray he becomes president.”
The Harlem-based pastor has:
- Posted a sign in front of his church saying “Jesus Would Stone Homos”;
- Called on Southern states to reestablish the Confederacy and launch a second Civil War in order to oppose marriage equality;
- Asked God to strike down “faggots” with “plagues like they have never seen before” and curse gay rights supporters with “cancer, HIV, syphilis, stroke and madness”;
- Claimed that Starbucks has been “taking specimens of male semen and they were putting it in the blends of their lattes” and “that they’re getting their semen from sodomites” who have Ebola;
- Urged God to give him the opportunity to personally send “fags, lesbos [and] sodomites” to hell;
- Asserted that “the sodomites are the most vicious, demonic, vile people” and have “demons in their blood”;
- Warned that “Obama has released the homo demons on the black man”;
- Said that Satan authored the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision and that it will lead to the destruction of America;
- Predicted that “sodomy” will soon be mandated under the coming Sharia law;
- Declared that “Black folk don’t know how to run no nation” and that “Obama is the son of Satan” and “the emissary for Satan himself” who is far worse than Adolf Hitler because of his advocacy for gay marriage;
- Called Obama a “pimp,” “house Negro,” and “long-legged mack daddy” and said that his mother was “trash” for having sex with a black man;
- Accused Obama of murdering his “love child” outside the U.S. Capitol.
And that list barely scratches the surface of the many absurd and offensive things that Manning has actually said.
While Trump of course cannot be held responsible for all of the statements these individuals have made, he can and should be held responsible for embracing them and, at times, promoting their baseless conspiracy theories.