Even before the winds of Hurricane Sandy began to moderate, conspiracy theorists of a variety of bents got busy explaining the real meaning of the storm. Because, of course, a monster storm can’t just come from something like “weather” or “climate.” No, a storm like that just must be the product of nefarious or, perhaps, spiritual forces too big for most of us to understand. And so, while millions of Americans deal with the aftermath of what has become the largest Atlantic tropical storm in recorded history, lots more are busy explaining what’s behind all that wind.
Here, gathered over the last few days, is a sampling of their views.
- It’s the gays! We here at Hatewatch knew somebody would be sure to blame LGBT people. Sure enough, Pastor John McTernan of Defend and Proclaim the Faith Ministries started us off with the claim that the storm was God’s judgment on America for, as the pastor stated on his ministry’s website, “the government promoting homosexual ‘marriage’ as an ordinance.” America, he says, “has not repented of promoting the homosexual agenda, so the judgments will not stop.” It’s not individual sex acts that is angering the deity, McTernan points out — it’s America’s support for homosexuals and marriage equality that’s behind the weather wallop. Of course, this isn’t the first time McTernan has blamed LGBT people/homosexuality for natural disasters. As reported in the EDGE, an LGBT news site, McTernan linked the recent Hurricane Isaac to New Orleans’ Southern Decadence festival.
- It’s bad policy toward Israel! Leave it to the folks at the conspiracy-riddled World Net Daily to publish this one. Basically, WND says, natural disasters in the U.S. correlate to attempts to divide Israel. At least that’s what a man named William Koenig — WND bills him as a “Journalist and White House Correspondent” — has been claiming for years. Says Koenig: “When we put pressure on Israel to divide their land, we have enormous, record-setting events, often within 24 hours.” Because both American political parties have endorsed a two-state solution with regard to Israel, an angry God produced Hurricane Sandy. Oh, and in case you wondered, Koenig published a book that “proves” that natural disasters that hit the U.S. are tied to presidential policy toward Israel, specifically during the George W. Bush administration.
- It’s Obama/the government! It seems that President Obama “engineered” Hurricane Sandy in an attempt to sway the election. Or so says InfoWars, a website run by conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones. Kurt Nimmo, the InfoWars editor who wrote the site’s piece last Friday, suggests that Obama would benefit by looking like a strong leader in the face of a major storm — and so he orchestrated the storm he needed. How’d he manage that? Nimmo cites another website’s claim that there have been “unprecedented levels” of ionospheric phenomena in the upper atmosphere, supposedly created by the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), which is a congressionally initiated program managed by the U.S. Navy and Air Force. The actual purpose of the program is to create a center for scientists to study the Earth’s upper atmosphere in order to aid communications and navigation systems for military and civilian use. But conspiracy theorists claim that the government uses HAARP to manipulate weather (and exert mind control) using electromagnetic waves.
- It’s an excuse for the government to take your guns! Cam Edwards, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA), went on conspiracy-monger Glenn Beck’s TV show Monday to warn not about the cause of the storm — but rather the way he says the Obama administration will use it. Harping on a well-known far-right meme, Edwards referenced the story of Patricia Konie, a New Orleans woman who had a revolver confiscated by her city’s police department in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Gun rights extremists have used the case ever since to claim that the government will use any national disaster to engineer a gun grab from its citizens. In fact, New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass did order law enforcement officials to confiscate all civilian weapons after Katrina hit, but he resigned just a few weeks later. The NRA went on to sue New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Compass’ replacement. The case was settled in 2008 and, in July 2012, the Department of Justice and New Orleans announced sweeping reforms to address serious issues in the police department, including a culture of excessive force, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and discriminatory arrests. But the NRA is dead certain that Obama is coming for your guns.
- The Department of Labor is using Sandy to delay the jobs report! And that means it’s trying to get Obama re-elected! The right-wing Drudge Report and conservative news organizations like Fox News claim that the government is planning to use Sandy to delay releasing its jobs report until after the election. This, they claim, is an attempt to influence the election by delaying an inevitably terrible jobs report. They also claim that using a weather emergency to delay a jobs report “is unprecedented.” But, like much of what they write, that’s simply not true. The Labor Department delayed a jobs report in 1996 because of a budgetary stalemate and then a blizzard.