In her 1951 book, The Origins of Totalitarianism Hannah Arendt wrote:
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e. the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e. the standards of thought) no longer exist.
Arendt also said in a 1971 essay, Lying in Politics:
The historian knows how vulnerable is the whole texture of facts in which we spend our daily life … It is always in danger of being perforated by single lies or torn to shreds by the organised lying of groups, nations, or classes, or denied and distorted, often carefully covered up by realms of falsehoods or simply allowed to fall into oblivion. Facts need testimony to be remembered and trustworthy witnesses to be established in order to find a secure dwelling place in the domain of human affairs - (Kakutani, M. (2018) pp. 11-13.)
These words from a different and distant age; from the vanished world of the twin totalitarian systems of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and its satellites which so disfigured the continent of Europe, now have a chilling prescience in our current age. The spectre of the knock on the door, the concentration camps and the omniscient Great Leader may not have returned to repress (some of) us yet. But the emergence of emotion-evoking populism of the nationalist far right (and in some cases of the far left) as we enter the third decade of the 21st century means that history is sounding its alarm bells once again.
The downsides of globalisation, the social dislocation caused by the 2008 world financial crash, the steady shredding of “smokestack” jobs and cultural anxieties created for socially homogenous communities by immigration and multiculturalism which has made the Other so uncomfortably visible have created huge rivers for its discontents to swim in. Added to this toxic mess has been atrophying belief in the efficacy and fairness of democratic governance (including especially institutions like the European Union); cynicism towards experts of all kinds and the increasing somatisation of Western populaces by seemingly pointless and meaningless infotainment. In a word where Derrida-influenced subjectivity seems to be king, objectivity and objective enquiry struggle to be heard.
All of the above and more have been the drivers of the waves of ordure that seemingly swept across the democratic world in the second half of the last decade: Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as US President; the electoral successes of Marie Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, the AfD in Germany on anti-immigration and anti-Muslim sentiment; the solidification of the “illiberal democracies" in Victor Orban’s Fidesz party in Hungary and the Law and Justice party in Poland; the election of far right nationalists Modi in India and Jair Bolisanario in Brazil and that of the homicidal President Duterte “Harry” in the Philippines. (To balance this catalogue of right-wing populists; I add, from the far left, Nicholas Maduro’s basket case in Venezuela and the British Labour Party’s disastrous and from 4th April 2020 terminated leadership of Jeremy Corbyn).
It is the first two of these hapless events, the departure of the UK from the EU and the ongoing train wreck of the Trump Presidency, that are the joint focus of my analysis of the persistent and partially successful assault on truth in the Western world and consequent degradation of democratic discourse and process.
Truth: Why it Matters
The former acting US Attorney General Sally Yates has observed that:
Truth is one of the things that separates us from an autocracy.” “We can debate policies and issues, we should. But these debates must be based on common facts rather than raw appeals to emotion and fear through polarising rhetoric and fabrications. (Kakutani: p.19).
The term “truth decay” is used by the Rand Corporation to describe the “diminishing role of facts and analysis” in American life. It encompasses fake science (manufactured by climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers and anti-abortionists with their invention of “post-abortion syndrome”); fake history (promoted by Holocaust revisionists, white supremacists, 9/11 ‘truthers’ [though ‘falsifiers would be a more accurate designation), the lies and fake imagery put out by supporters of President Assad to traduce the work of the Syrian White Knights rescue organisation right down to false attributions of the Covid-19[i] global pandemic to 5G emitted radiation, to government manufacture of the virus and as “a Chinese disease – step forward Donald J. Trump. It also includes fake followers and “likes” on social media generated by bots. (Kakutani: p.13).
Sally Yates goes on to emphasise that “not only is there such a thing as objective truth” but that “failure to tell the truth matters." Citizens ‘cannot control whether public servants lie’ to the public but they can choose whether ‘to hold them accountable for those lies’ or to, ‘in either a state of political exhaustion or to protect our own political objectives’, ‘to look the other way and normalise an indifference to the truth.’ (Kakutani: pp.19-20).
Much of the rancour in morally charged debates like abortion, legalisation of controlled drugs, prayer in schools and the death penalty comes down to failure of the participants to agree on basic facts. In such emotive symbolic issues, people either believe that life begins at conception or not; that schools are appropriate places for religious symbols and instruction or not and capital punishment deters murder and other heinous crimes or not. Parties involved in these disputes have much moral capital invested in their respective stances and any challenge to their beliefs on such topics can represent a full-frontal assault on their, their worldview, their cosmos.
In societies riven by ethnic and national conflicts such as Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Lebanon and, of course, the territory of historic Palestine, each ‘side’ has a coherent narrative which makes agreement on basic facts or, more accurately, their interpretation almost impossible.
What is disturbing about the evolution of truth narratives in the macro-politics of advanced democracies such as the United States and a United Kingdom riven by Brexit-related conflicts is that the attenuation of truth that one expects in the culture wars and ethno-national conflicts mentioned previously has now been mainstreamed.
The salience of culture wars in the US and the episodic recurrences of a “paranoid” style of politics has made the US particularly susceptible to the swamping of its national discourse by fake news and conspiracist legionnaires spawned by social media but, in the context of the 2016 EU referendum, the UK has also experienced the pathologies of identity politics and assault on truth by similarly malevolent forces both internal and external. The monumental, generation impacting and disastrous decision of the UK to leave the EU is a case study in the cumulative effects of truth decay. The election of Donald Trump as US President is another; the emergence of the slew of populist leaders and movements referred to earlier can be attributed in varying degrees to this informational disease.
But these events did not suddenly spring from nowhere. They were the products of trends in popular culture; attitudes to politics and the authority of experts; changing patterns of media and news consumption increasingly packaged as “infotainment”; impacts of seismic global events and the influence of post-modernist ideas on language beyond academe. All these processes have contributed to the all-pervasive cynicism in the Anglo-American world especially which has made democracies so vulnerable to the twin blitzkriegs of Vladimir Putin’s cyber army and the Cambridge Analytica data gathering coup. Both worked symbiotically to harm the post-war democratic architecture of Western Europe in order to aid Putin’s long-term goals of undermining NATO, EU and the liberal global order and the Alt-Right revolutionary agenda of Steve Bannon and the disaster capitalists such as Robert Mercer who were prepared to fund it.
The election of Donald Trump as the 45th US President in 2016 and the not unrelated event across the Atlantic – the narrow vote by the UK to depart the European Union in a rare (for Britain) plebiscite – can be seen as the culmination of many cultural developments responsible for the cumulative corrosion of truth in public life in the Anglophone world at any rate.
Since his election, Trump’s prolific lying has become legendary. The Washington: Post calculated that he’d made 2,140 false or misleading claims during his first year in office – an average of nearly 5.9 per day. His lies about everything - from the investigations into Russian interference in the election, to his call on the Ukrainian government to ‘dig up dirt’ on Joe Biden (his likely Democrat opponent in this year’s Presidential election to the size of the crowd at his inauguration and to his popularity and achievements) - are only the most obvious indicators of the threat he poses to democratic institutions and values in the US. He routinely trashes the work of the press, the judiciary, intelligence services, electoral officials and civil servants who are entrusted with the health and workings of democratic governance in the US (Kakutani: pp.14-15)
In the UK, opponents of membership of the EU triumphed (narrowly) despite proven breaches of electoral law by the their campaign groups and the telling of blatant untruths, two of the most egregious being the notorious slogan on the side of the campaign bus of Vote Leave which stated that the UK sent £350m a week to the EU which could be spent on the NHS instead and the claim that 85m Turks would be eligible to come to Britain on the imminent accession of Turkey to the EU which was never on the cards.
Yet neither Trump’s serial lying (including his campaign claim that global warming was a “plot got up” by China) has dented his popularity with his base and his re-election prospects. Nor were Britain’s Europhobes thwarted in their ambitions. And the General Election of December 2019 saw the election of a Conservative government, largely a replica of the Vote Leave campaign, with a stunning 85 seat majority. The question to be posed for all concerned with the healthy functioning of democracy is why have these apparent victories for “post-truth” occurred?
Everything Goes: The Decline of Reason
The election of Donald Trump represented the nadir of the decline of the role of reason and rationality in American national discourse and in public policy deliberation. It was the denouement of cultural trends that had been steadily gnawing at the fabric of US society since the 1960s. These trends had been astutely identified by two authors: Susan Jacoby in The Age of Unreason and by Vice-President Al Gore in The Assault on Reason. Jacoby cited an “addiction to infotainment”, persistent belief in and growing strength of religious fundamentalism, the popular equation of intellectualism with a liberalism supposedly at odds with traditional American values,” and an education system seriously deficient in “teaching not only basic skills but the logic underlying those skills.” (Kakutani: p.30)
Al Gore diagnosed the ailing condition of America as participatory democracy in the following terms: low voter turnout, an ill-informed electorate, campaigns dominated by money and media manipulation and “the persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy, even in the face of massive and well-understood evidence to the contrary." The epitome of this collision of toxic tendencies was for Gore, the disastrous decision by the administration of George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003 based on incomplete evidence of Iraq’s non-existent WMD capabilities and on fatally over-optimistic beliefs in the outcome of the invasion. It was a decision characterised by the cherry picking of intelligence according to ideological certainty and the insouciant disregard for expert advice; for example, that from the State Department’s Future of Iraq Project and military bosses such as army chief of staff, Eric Shinseki, who testified that post-war Iraq would require a deployment of something like hundreds of thousands of soldiers. (Kakutani: pp.30-33).
The appalling consequences of “Operation Enduring Freedom” are too well known to require further discussion here but the reverse-engineered policy making and repudiation of experts that characterised it have intrinsic to the conduct of policy making in the Trump White House. For example, committed as Trump is to Steve Bannon’s ambitions for “the deconstruction of the administrative state and because of his distrust of “deep state” professionals, the State Department has been hollowed out by the exodus of foreign policy talent from an agency whose new management no longer valued their expertise" (Kakutani: pp.33-34). Even more perilous has been the adoption of this anti-expert to the Covid-19 crisis by Trump for whom the projection of the pandemic death-rate by the World Health Organisation was a “false number” and who had “a feeling” that New York would need far fewer ventilators than the tens of thousands the state has requested. Americans may well pay a terrible price for his closure of a pandemic task force for no better reason than it was established by Barack Obama – the same rationale for his marching the US out of the Iran nuclear deal - and his failure to heed the warnings of a pandemic preparedness exercise, codenamed Crimson Contagion, that identified glaring gaps as recently as last October.
One can reach further back into American history for explanations of the this potentially fatal dysfunction in the White House. Alongside the story of America as a work in progress as hoped for by Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Barrack Obama; a shining example of “a city on a hill” is a dark, irrational counter-narrative described by Philip Roth as “the indigenous American berserk” and by the historian Richard Hofstadter as “the paranoid style” – a vision powered by “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy” and focused on perceived threats to “a nation, a culture, a way of life” (Kakutani: pp,23-24).
The paranoid style recurs in “episodic waves” from the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party in the 1850s; to the anti-immigration campaigning of the 1920s; to McCarthyism of the 1950s and the right-wing movement around Senator Barry Goldwater’s Presidential bid in 1964. The modern right-wing has, in the words of Hofstadter, tended to be mobilised by a sense of grievance and dispossession. A perfect storm of changing demographics and social mores; the financial crisis of 2008 and the seeping away of jobs due to the seeming remorseless march of globalisation and technological advancement has fed the perceptions of “left-behind”, largely white, working class, populations that America has been stolen from them and that “they have no access to political bargaining or the making of decisions.” (Kakutani: pp.24-25).
The stage was set for the emergence of Lincoln’s would-be tyrant; of Alexander Hamilton’s nightmare of “a man unprincipled in private life”, “bold in his temper”, one day arising who might “mount the hobby horse of popularity” and “flatter and fall in with the zealots of the day” in order to embarrass the government and “throw things into confusion that he might ride the storm and direct the whirlwind”. Enter the real estate and reality television magnate Donald J. Trump who, in the manner also of nativist forces in Western Europe such as Brexiteers, Legia Nord, Le Pen and Wilders sought to exploit the rising tide of fear and resentment and the latent racism within it. He launched his political career by shamelessly promoting the ‘birther’ slur concerning Barrack Obama’s place of birth and the views of the conspiracy theorist and shock jock Alex Jones. He then waded high in the welter of anti-Clinton hatred and nonsensical conspiracy tales that were being manufactured by Republican right-wingers on the Right for two decades and successfully rode on the backs of the Alt-Right and Breitbart trollers so effectively mobilised by Steve Bannon. (Kakutani: pp.26-27).
But Trump did not emerge in a vacuum. His rise was made possible by the degradation of language and the associated “Balkanisation” of the social media landscape into silos and filter bubbles where users, more often than not, seek confirmation bias in their internet forays rather than engagement with other viewpoints and cultures. This ghettoization of the World Wide Web has been facilitated in no small measure by the customised algorithms which the digital behemoths serve up to their consumer.
The Decline of Language and the Remaking of Reality
Since Russia has been at the epicentre of the attacks on the liberal democracies and the rules based international order in the West; it is important to look at two Russian figures who have enabled the pyrotechnics between what the Rand Corporations has called the “firehose of falsehood” to describe Putin’s fake news and mass disinformation campaign – the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin and Vladislav Surkov, a former postmodernist theatre director and the Kremlin’s propaganda puppet master (Kakutani: pp135-36)
Almost a century after his death, Lenin’s model of revolution has proven durable and serviceable across ideological divides. His incendiary language, as he helpfully explained, was “calculated to evoke hatred, aversion and contempt;" such wording was “calculated not to convince, but to break up the ranks of the opponent, not to correct the mistake of his opponent, but to destroy him". This dehumanising and pitiless language is of course meant “to evoke the worst thoughts, the worst suspicions about the opponent." (Kakutani: p.136)
Allied to this grotesque rhetoric are tactics intended to advance the ultimate goal – not the improvement of state institutions and machinery but their destruction - the use of confusion and chaos to rally the masses; simplistic (and always broken) utopian promises, paramount secrecy and violent condemnation of anything deemed “reformist” part of the status quo. (Kakutani: p.136)
It is no coincidence that modern anti-establishment figures from the right such as Steve Bannon and Dominic Cummings, Special Adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and widely seen as the brains behind Vote Leave’s triumph in 2016, style themselves as “Leninists”. It is also not coincidental that the historian Anne Applebaum with her expertise on Soviet era repression identified in an 2017 article a group of “neo-Bolsheviks” – a Who’s Who of the contemporary populist Alt-Right including Trump, Nigel Farage in Britain, Marine Le Pen in France, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland and Victor Orban in Hungary. They had started out on the political margins and piggy-backed on waves of populism to prominent positions. Their modus operandi, wrote Applebaum, were “the adoption of Lenin’s refusal to compromise, his anti-democratic elevation of some social groups over other and his hateful attacks on his ‘illegitimate opponents’ . To carry their mission out, they created their own ‘alternative media that specialises in disinformation, hatemongering and the trolling of adversaries … and, in a rotten world, they were prepared to sacrifice truth in the name of ‘the People’ or as a way of targeting the ‘Enemies of the People’ (Kakutani: pp.137-38).
Framed within this discourse; the resemblance between the labelling by Brexiteers of the judges, journalists and even the Westminster parliament as “enemies of the people” for seeking greater scrutiny of the UK’s headlong pursuit towards the EU exit door and the “Lock her up” cries at Trump’s rallies with Lenin’s eliminationist language towards “counter-revolutionaries” becomes chillingly stark.
Although with an outlook as far from the ideological certainties of Lenin as it is possible, the modus operandi of Vladislav Surkov has had arguably greater success in destabilising Western democracy than the former ever had. Surkov who has been called “the real genius” , the Rasputin “of the Putin era”, had a background in both theatre and public relations and was also a self-styled bohemian who saw avant-garde artists and post-modern thinkers as referents The journalist Peter Pomerantsev, author of the book Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, describes Surkov as the impresario who turned Russian politics into a reality show in which “democratic institutions are maintained without any democratic freedoms”. (Kakutani: p.144)
Surkov’s goal in Russia was always the same, Pomerantsev argued in Politico: “to keep the great, 140-million-strong population reeling with oohs and aahs about gays and God, Satan, fascists, the CIA, and far-fetched geopolitical nightmares.”. “He ushered in “a new strain of authoritarianism” by “climbing into different interest groups and manipulating them from the inside, Pomerantsev wrote in 2014. (Kakutani: p.145).
For example, Pomerantsev explains, Surkov would “with one hand support human rights groups comprised of former dissidents” and “with the other he organised pro-Kremlin groups like Nashi [a youth movement], which accused human rights leaders of being tools of the West.” This tactic of playing one group against another was intended to ensure that the Kremlin held all the puppets’ strings while using disinformation to remake reality (Kakutani: p.145).
Such truth manipulation was fundamental to Putin’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 Presidential election in Trump’s favour. As described in the indictment drawn up by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the Russian scheme was a sophisticated one involving hundreds of operatives working for the St. Petersburg troll factory, the Internet Research Agency. These agents – some of whom visited the United States on false pretences – set up hundreds of fake social media accounts, posing as (and sometimes stealing the identities of) real Americans and using an American sever to conceal their Russian location. Using these false personas, they posted material on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube and built up substantial followings. The objective of this virtual reality offensive was to propagate malicious information about Hillary Clinton (and during the Republican primaries Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) and to sow distrust of the American political systems overall.
Following Surkov’s playbook, fake campaigns to “Stop the Islamification of Texas” and counter-campaigns were manufactured as were fictitious Black Lives Matters events in order to widen divisions over race, immigration and religion. They organised and publicised pro-Trump rallies, spread rumours of voter fraud by the Democrats and encouraged minority electors to abstain or cast their votes for the third-party candidate.
The notion that vast numbers of US electors (and UK electors in the Brexit vote) were duped by fake stories posted by bots and other dubious accounts is challenged by Adam Kucharski in his study of how contagion spreads. He acknowledges that over 100 million American posts backed by Russia during the 2016 election and that on Twitter, almost 700,000 people in the US were exposed to Russian-linked propaganda, spread by 50,000 bot accounts. But he points out that there was a lot of other social media content as well. During the US election period, American users saw over 11 trillion posts on Facebook. For every Russian post people were exposed to, on average there were almost 90,000 other pieces of content. In the words of Duncan Watts and David Rothschild "in sheer numerical terms, the information to which voters were exposed was overwhelmingly produced not by fake news sites or even by alt-right media sources, but by household names". (Kucharski: 2020).
Kucharski also cites evidence, that on average, only about 3 per cent of the articles viewed by people were published by websites peddling false stories and that in the UK there had been little evidence of Russian content dominating conversations on Twitter or You Tube in the run-up to the EU referendum. (Kucharski: p.200)
However, for Kucharski, a far more troubling form of manipulation is taking place in cyberspace. For although, ultimately, electors in the UK and US in that seminal year 2016 may not have got most of their information from illicit sources, the problem is at a more subterranean level. When fringe groups post false ideas or stories on Twitter, their initial intended targets are not mass audiences. Instead their targets are journalists and politicians who spend a lot of their time online. It is the hope of fringe groups that these people will discover the story and disseminate it to a wider audience. Just as drug cartels might funnel their money through legitimate businesses to conceal its origins, so online manipulators will get credible sources to ‘launder’ their messages, so the wider population will hear them from a familiar and trusted personality or outlet rather than an anonymous account. This ‘astroturfing’ strategy makes it more difficult for journalists and politicians to ignore the story, so eventually it becomes real news (Kucharski: pp.202-03).
For example, following the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, there were reports the shooter belonged to a small white supremacist group in the state capital Tallahassee. However, it was a hoax which had started with trolls on online forums, who’d managed to persuade curious reporters that it was a genuine claim (Kucharski: pp.201-02).
It is when we view the Russian interference in the US Presidential election and the Brexit referendum through the lens of online manipulation and especially the technique of disinformation that its pernicious effects on the values of truth and democracy can really be appreciated. For the purpose of disinformation is, in the words of Kucharski, “is not … to persuade you that false stories are true, but to make you doubt the very notion of truth. The aim is to shift facts around.” (Kucharski: p.205). For that is what really lies behind the St Petersburg troll and bot factories. The imprimatur of the KGB, the current incumbent and former career spook in the Kremlin and the afore-mentioned Mr Surkov is there to be seen in the creation of multiple Facebook accounts designed to set up far right protests and counter-protests. Their aim, just like, KGB foreign agents in the Cold War, - to create contradictions in public opinion and undermine confidence in accurate news. (Kucharski: pp.204-05).
The modus operandi of disinformation is been refined to a particularly art by online troll forums in the US liked 4chan, Reddit and Gab. 4chan announced their entrance on the national stage in September 2008 when a user posted on the Oprah Winfrey Show’s online message board claiming to represent a massive paedophile network, with over 9,000 members. However, the phrase ‘over 9,000’ was a reference to a fighter shouting about their opponent’s power level in the cartoon Dragon Bull Z, was actually a 4chan meme and to their delight Winfrey swallowed the paedophilia claim and read out the phrase on air. (Kucharski: p.205).
These forums in effect act as incubators for contagious memes and one very successful way of ensuring their online survival has been to make memes absurd or extreme, so that one doubts whether they are serious or not. This impression of irony can enable the faster spread of unpleasant views than would otherwise be possible. If users take offence, the creator of the meme can claim it was a joke; if users assume it was a joke, the meme is not criticised. This tactic has become part of the online armoury of White supremacist groups. A leaked style guide for the Daily Stormer website advised its writers to keep things light to avoid alienating readers: ‘generally, when using racial slurs, it should come across as half-joking’ (Kucharski: p.206).
In conclusion, the words of CP Snow, the founding father of the Manchester Guardian, “Comment is Free, Facts Sacred” have arguably never had greater resonance than in our contemporary networked but riven world where post-modern truths such as all narratives are contingent; all politicians are liars and therefore, the alternative facts put out by the Kremlin (and Donald Trump) are just as valid as anyone’s else have gained a worrying degree of traction if not hegemony or common sense. As the globe battles with the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, is it too much to expect the rediscovery and rehabilitation of objective, evidence-based facts amongst those who deny them any validity. Our collective survival may well depend on it.
Kakutani, Michiko (2018) The Death of Truth. London: William Collins.
Kucharski, Adam. The Rules of Contagion. Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop.
 The current Covid-19 pandemic has seen no let-up in the President’s lying with possibly catastrophic consequences At a White House press briefing Yamiche Alcindor put his own words to him: “You’ve said repeatedly that you think some of the equipment that governors are requesting, they don’t actually need. You said New York might need … “When Trump interrupted her twice to say “I didn’t say that.”! Alcindor stuck to her guns: “You said it on Sean Hannity’s, Fox News.”. Then Trump lied: I didn’t say that – come on. Come on.” Later, Trump gave a familiar riposte to those remarks also being quoted by a CNN reporter – “Fake news” (Guardian, 2nd April 2020.
Trump’s almost criminal lack of scientific knowledge was illustrated starkly by the case of an Arizona couple in their 60s who took chloroquine phosphate an additive used to clean fish tanks resulting in the death of the husband and the critical illness of his wife. This substance is also found in an anti-malaria medication touted by Trump as a treatment for Covid-19. Trump had previously falsely stated at a news conference that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the use of chloroquine even though the FDA chief had clarified the drug needs to be tested.
 Jonathan Freedland “Trump has the blood of Americans on his hands” The Guardian 28th March 2020.
 Watts D.J. and Rothschild D.W., ‘Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media.’, Columbia Journalism Review, 2017
 Guess A. et al, ‘Selective Exposure to Misinformation: Evidence from the consumption of fake news during the 2016 presidential campaign; Narayanan V. et al ‘Russian information and Junk News during Brexit’. Oxford Comprop Data Memo.
 Feinberg A ‘This is the Daily Stormer’s playbook. Huffington Post 13 December 2017.
[i] Conspiracy theories on Covid 19 also encompass more familiar and darker themes; that “the Jews” in their various manifestations are responsible for the pandemic..
Islamists have claimed that Covid-19 is a Zionist or US-Israel conspiracy. Professor Ali Karami from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-run Baqiyatallah University of Medical Science described on Iranian TV Covid-19 as a ‘biological ethnic weapon created by the ‘Americans and Zionist regime’ to target Iranian DNA. The Professor attributed the high mortality rate in Iran to this Zionist plot.
In Turkey, the head of Turkey’s Refah party has stated that ‘This virus serves Zionism’s goal of decreasing the number of people and preventing it from increasing’. He quoted approvingly the words of his father Necmettin Erbakan; the former Prime Minister of Turkey: ‘Zionism is a five-thousand bacteria that has caused the suffering of people.
In the USA the white supremacy website Daily Stormer started sharing antisemitic conspiracy theories about the pandemic immediately after its outbreak. Its site editor wrote on 26 March 2020, ‘Coronavirus is now a hoax that is officially on a par with the Holocaust and global warming. For many white supremacists, ‘the system’ is Jewish and responsible for the outbreak. In January 2020, white supremacist and former congressional candidate Paul Hehlen said that Israel had ‘unleashed a bio-weapon’ against China that was ‘meant to teach you that they control your destiny as well’. Former Milwaukee county Sheriff, David Clarke Jr. also accused the Jewish investor and billionaire philanthropist George Soros of being behind the outbreak.
Lev Torpor, COVID-19: Blaming the Jews for the Plague, Again. Fathom Journal March 2020 htps;//fathomjournal.org/covid-19-blaming-thejews-for-the-plague-again/
➽ Barry Gilheany is the author of a PhD thesis Post-Eighth Abortion Politics in the Republic of Ireland from Essex University, Department of Government. He is also the author of The Discursive Construction of Abortion in Georgina Waylen & Vicky Randall (Eds) Gender, The State and Politics Routledge, 1998.