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A Note on the Unherd “War Rape Videos” Claim

A sensational allegation from Julie Bindel on Unherd:

Pornhub has a new category: “Ukrainian girls and war rape videos”; it is dominated by Russian soldiers documenting disgustingly brutal crimes.

The quote also appears on Unherd‘s Twitter stream.

Unfortunately, Bindel does not provide any source for her allegation, and it is astonishing that such material could be uploaded anywhere (let alone to a commercial website in the US) without coming under immediate and intense global scrutiny. Russia’s war atrocities in Ukraine are many, but crimes against humanity of rape and sexual assault are particularly egregious and would provoke universal outrage and disgust. We would expect front-page headlines, statements from Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and extensive commentary from OSINT activists. Yet there is nothing.

The most likely explanation is that Bindel has extrapolated carelessly from the observation made by the anti-sex trafficking activist Tom Farr in late February that “trending searches” listed on Pornhub recently included “ukrainian” and “ukrainian girls”. Farr’s commentary on this was that

The absolute depths of human suffering and misery is just another “category” for the porn industry. It takes every aspect of our humanity, turns it into the most depraved and dehumanised product imaginable, and then sells it back to us. It is a truly horrific industry. 

This comment was later incorporated into an article posted by an anti-trafficking site called Exodus Cry, which added that

On Pornhub, terms such as “Ukrainian girls,” “Ukrainian porn,” and “war porn” have become trending searches in the week since Russian forces attacked Ukraine.

Certainly, the “trending searches” are both disturbing and repellent, but they do not mean that images depicting sexual war crimes in Ukraine (whether real or staged for fetishistic purposes) are available. Responses to the Unherd Tweet include a Tweet from a journalist who said that he “tried a search and got a warning such content would be illegal”. Someone else has posted a screenshot of a notice on the site stating that “Actual or staged depictions of coerced or non-consensual sexual acts… is not permitted on our site”.

Footnote

In 2015, Bindel wrote an article for Standpoint on “Britain’s Apologists For Child Abuse”, in which she segued polemically from the effusions of Tom O’Carroll to “a two-part investigation for BBC Radio 4’s Analysis” that “sought to question how what were described as the ‘bizarre ideas’ of Satanic abuse gained traction among police and social care professionals in the 1980s and early 1990s”. I discussed the radio documentary here.

Her article was written during Operation Conifer, and she also claimed that according to child protection campaigners it was “widely known” that Edward Heath “was involved in organised child abuse rings”

In April 2018, Bindel denounced Jeremy Corbyn for his failure to accept that Russia was responsible for the Skripal poisonings in Salisbury, although a few months later she appeared on a podcast produced by the Russian media outlet Sputnik, in which she discussed “the trans Taliban”.

Turning Point UK Downplays John Mappin Link

Turning Point UK issues a stern corrective to Jessica Simor QC:

Hi Jessica, John Mappin is not “of Turning Point UK”, he does not and has not held any position in the organisation.

As for our stance on Ukraine I’m sure it is fairly obvious from our tweets.

As a QC I would’ve expected you to have done your homework before tweeting nonsense.

The millionaire hotelier Mappin has long described himself as the “co-founder” of Turning Point UK, and Simor responded with a 2019 Tweet from Channel 4 News that quoted him thus:

I’ve been helping with the Trump movement since he announced his election. I co-founded Turning Point UK and it has a duty to-to share good ideas with the Conservative party. Trump is absolutely a political phenomenon and it’s global.

TPUK’s response to this was to say that the media “just print whatever they want”, although they did not explain how the quote is misleading or false.

Of course, just because someone has co-founded a group it does not mean that they have an ongoing interest in its activities. However, it reasonable to assume some kind of continuing association unless stated overwise. At an event at in Pall Mall in late 2018, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA reportedly told attendees that potential donors “can talk to John [Mappin] or some of our other very good friends in the room” (1), and in 2019 Mappin spoke in first-person plural of having “appointed” the head of Turning Point UK (Oliver Anisfeld).

Simor had referred to the link between Mappin and TPUK in response to a Tweet by Tom Scott that included a screenshot of Mappin writing in support of Putin on 24 February (2). Mappin had Tweeted:

What President Putin @KremlinRussia_E has done is a gift for the freedom of the world.

Those who love freedom have a duty to back him up.

It is so important that the deep state’s Nazi collaborator’s are fully confronted,

The deep state is on the ropes, the whole world sees.

Mappin subsequently deleted this, along with a Tweet from the same day stating “I stand with Russian Bear“. However, his output remains pro-Putin, and he is currently speculating about the possibility of the British government staging “a Nuclear False Flag just to cover up vax side effects”.

Mappin’s hotel is a castle in Cornwall that he calls Camelot, and he previously achieved notoriety for flying a “Q” flag in support of the QAnon conspiracy theory. He is in good standing with various activists who have expressed scepticism either of Covid-19 or of measures to protect against it: those who have enjoyed his hospitality include Piers Corbyn, James Melville and Laurence Fox, and early last month he was out on the town with Melville and with GB News’s Neil Oliver (3).

He is also a friend of Nigel Farage, who sits on the advisory board of a company in which Mappin and his wife have a 30% stake (4).

TPUK’s Tweets to Simor appear to be an attempt to distance the organisation from Mappin without being drawn into an explicit repudiation.

Notes

1. This has long been described as TPUK’s launch event, but TPUK now state that it was “a TPUSA event in the UK, as TPUK did not exist until 2020”. This is either a ret-con or a very pedantic distinction given the event’s purpose.

2. Tom Scott previously wrote about Mappin and Camelot for West Country Voices, in an article called “QAnon in Cornwall”.

3. According to Mappin, the night out was co-organised by Emma Sayle – it was through Sayle that Times journalist Kate Spicer got an introduction to Mappin for her profile of him published last year.

4. The company, Dutch Green Business, is based in the Netherlands. According to The Times:

All of the key figures behind DGB are linked to Scientology. Mappin, who is company chairman, and his wife, a board member, are followers of the cult and frequently recommend Dianetics — one of Scientology’s central texts — to followers as a “cure for depression”.

Selwyn Duijvestijn, DGB’s chief executive, is an ambassador for the Scientology-run Youth for Human Rights (YHR), as is Hilda van der Muelen, a former Miss Netherlands, who was introduced to Scientology by Mappin while both were living in Hollywood in the 1990s.

James Melville Moving Closer to Icke Milieu

From an online audio discussion co-hosted by Leilani Dowding and James Melville, on the subject of “Russia Ukraine questions” (28 February):

Dowding:
Lots of people, if you look at what’s happened to Russian currency, it has dropped at least like 30% in the past week… so if they’ve sold it then all these people who have got millions – the globalists, the bankers, the currency traders, they’ve got millions to play with. There’s a lot of people that have made a lot of money knowing that sanctions would cause havoc with Russian currency.

Participant:
You’re talking about trillions here, though. I mean, Look at people, families like the Rothschilds, the Black Rock Vanguard, all the rest of them, you know, there’s actually trillions of dollars, not just millions. These guys, I mean, they don’t have our best interests at heart at all.

Melville:
But that’s the other thing with sanctions as well, I mean it’s quid pro quo, it does work the other way as well. Sanctions massively hurt other economies but fundamentally they’ll hurt all of us if we go down the hardballing sanctions.

Melville then moved on to another participant. The exchange has been preserved on Twitter by @CovidRadicals, which describes itself as “Highlighting the radicalisation of people by covid 19 pandemic conspiracists”.

It’s not clear why Melville doesn’t push back against the notorious “Rothschild” trope; however, the following day he posted a list of “those who gain from pandemics and military conflicts”, at the head of which he placed “financiers”. In fairness, it may be that he didn’t want to turn an open forum where “we can all discuss” into a debate (i.e. the discussion was a “safe space”), but what might have been going through his head is of less interest than the objective fact that his acquiescence here means that he is helping to normalise “Rothschild” conspiracy mongering.

Also of note is Melville’s co-host. Leilani Dowding is a former model and television celebrity, apparently best known for appearing in an ITV reality show called Real Housewives of Cheshire. However, she is also a long-time associate of David Icke – back in 2013 the Sun reported on her beliefs under the headline “Leilani: Royals are a bunch of shape-shifting lizards”, claiming:

At a private dinner party during LA fashion week, the bonkers babe told pals she believed the human race comes from a planet called Zeta Reticuli, and a mothership will land on earth to take us all back home.

Dowding is now displayed as a presenter alongside David Icke himself on a conspiracy streaming site called Ickonic. Icke, of course, is himself heavily invested in anti-Rothschild rhetoric, which he denies is anti-Semitic despite illustrating his point via explicitly anti-Jewish imagery (such as this David Dees cartoon).

The point here is not “guilt by association”, although some alliances are discreditable and quite properly bring reputational damage. Rather, the point is to show how online influencers and pundits facilitate the spread of harmful ideas through networks of mutually reinforcing endorsements and associations that serve to make them appear less disreputable or outlandish.

Melville makes regular appearances on GB News (1) and he recently posted a photograph of himself posing with Nigel Farage. He wrote “My journey is now complete”, having previously been a supporter of the Remain cause, but from the above it looks more like he’s still on a trajectory (2).

Notes

1. GB News gives Melville authority by billing him as “James Melville, MD of East Points West Communication” – “MD” here meaning “Managing Director”. However, this company, officially called “Eastpointswest”, appears to be dormant.

2. Melville has also enjoyed the hospitality of John Mappin, the millionaire Cornwall hotelier who flies a “Q” flag from above his property to signify his support of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Mappin has also had tête-à-têtes with Piers Corbyn and Laurence Fox (see here).

A Note on “Savile Smears”

From Ayesha Hazarika in the Independent:

At the start of the week, we witnessed a new low for British politics. When the Prime Minister was meant to be making a sombre apology for Downing Street parties and the failure of leadership at No 10 identified in Sue Gray’s report, he suddenly launched an audacious, deranged, and wicked attack on [Keir] Starmer by saying he was responsible for the failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

We know this is untrue. It’s all on the record in a report. We know how low it is to weaponise sexual abuse especially for the victims of Savile. We all know this is the man who accused a child sex abuse inquiry of spaffing money up the wall. We know all that. But let’s be clear – at the heart of this was a tactic no more sophisticated than yelling “you nonce” at Starmer and hoping some of it would stick because in an era of unhinged conspiracy theories and social media, by the time the truth has got its boots on, the paedo meme is halfway round the world.

Johnson’s strategy is rumoured to have been suggested to him by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was shown smirking and pointing during the jibe and whose subsequent defence of it in Parliament was amplified online by Paul Staines. Johnson’s line of attack was also endorsed by Nadine Dorries MP in a Channel 4 interview, in which she asserted that “the Prime Minister tells the truth” while denying having any knowledge of the specifics (in contrast to when in May 2020 she promoted a deceptively edited clip uploaded by a far-right Twitter account in which Starmer appeared to justify failing to prosecute grooming gang cases).

Starmer was the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2009, which was when Jimmy Savile was interviewed by police under caution in relation to allegations relating to the Duncroft Approved School in Surrey. A file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, which judged that there was insufficient evidence to proceed. In 2013 a review by Alison Levitt QC found that more could have been done by police and prosecutors to build a case and to pursue other allegations – Starmer accepted this finding and made an apology on behalf of the CPS.

Rees-Mogg correctly regards this as analogous to ministerial responsibility, in which a minster may apologise for mistakes that occur within their department even though they may have had nothing to do with them personally. Where he is mendacious is in the suggestion that this in turn is comparable to Boris Johnson’s responsibility for events that took place inside his own home, in at least some of which Johnson is personally implicated. Further, it is reasonable to suppose that Rees-Mogg is rationalising after Johnson’s comments were taken to mean that Starmer was indeed personally responsible, and that that this was both more serious and more currently relevant than Johnson’s own conduct. (1)

It is certainly appropriate to be revolted by Johnson’s deployment of Jimmy Savile in such a self-serving way, and to be irritated by the implied insult to our intelligence. Coming from the prime minister, it is also indeed a “new low”. However, if journalists are suddenly concerned about a “Savile smear” it seems to me that  a more thorough audit of Savile claims would be welcome. Stories alleging that Savile was involved in Satanic Ritual Abuse or a paedophile ring that also included Edward Heath find their origins not with “social media” but in sensationalising newspaper reports. More generally, the journalist David Rose wrote in 2016:

Some of the discrepancies I was able to expose in articles about the Savile case in the autumn of 2014 had been canvassed in the blogosphere for months, by Susanne Cameron-Blackie [Anna Raccoon] and others. But although one other national newspaper journalist did become interested, he backed off, having told at least two of his sources that to publish material casting doubt on the prevailing narrative would be ‘career suicide’.

Meanwhile, the High Court had established a compensation scheme, a means of paying damages to ‘victims’ from what was left of Savile’s estate, administered by his executors, the NatWest bank. It allowed for only the most cursory scrutiny of allegations’ veracity. The assumption underlying it was, self-evidently, that most of them must be true.

This lack of due diligence was most evident in the case of Carl Beech, whose first foray into hoaxing the media and police involved a false claim about Savile. There is also reason to be concerned about the subsequent trajectories of some of those involved in the 2012 Exposure documentary on Savile, which focused in particular on the Duncroft claims. Mark Williams-Thomas was later involved in promoting false allegations against Cliff Richard, and I am sure that if the singer were not still alive and able to push back we would have seen a similar documentary about him. Meirion Jones, who produced a follow-up BBC documentary called Jimmy Savile – What the BBC Knew, later went on to make the extraordinary claim that the BBC’s critical investigation into Operation Midland had been announced with the purpose of distracting attention from the sentencing of Bishop Peter Ball. There’s a direct line from that kind of thing to mobs chanting “paedo-protectors” outside Broadcasting House (a line that may be overlooked with greater interest in QAnon imports).

UPDATE: A report in the Sunday Times states that

The origin of the claim against Starmer is believed to be a 2018 article on the right-wing political website, Guido Fawkes, concerning his time as DPP (2008-13). According to research by the campaign group Hope Not Hate, searches for “Starmer” and “Savile” peaked in April 2020 when the far-right fake news site Politicalite published a piece with the headline, “New leader new danger: Keir Starmer ‘helped paedophile Jimmy Saville [sic] evade justice’”.

Lia Nici, the Conservative MP for Great Grimsby, claimed on BBC5 Live last week that when Starmer visited her seat last month, constituents asked on social media why he was coming in light of Savile. “This was absolutely, utterly the number one issue for local people,” she said. “[They said]: ‘He did this with the CPS. He should be ashamed.’”

…At an anti-lockdown rally near Buckingham Palace in the summer of 2020, [BBC reporter Marianna] Spring spoke to a group of women who were discussing fake “case studies” of child abuse victims. “One of the women specifically mentioned Starmer to me and how he had protected Savile,” Spring says. “I asked where she’d seen that, and she said: ‘It’s all over my Facebook group; it’s everywhere.’”

The article links the Starmer/Savile smear with with QAnon, anti-vaccine misinformation and political falsehoods – but fails to engage with the Savile conspiricism and “VIP abuse” sensationalism of the mainstream media since 2012.

Footnote

1. Ironically, Starmer has also been accused of over-zealousness as head of the DPP, and criticised for introducing the “believe the accuser” principle that led to the Operation Midland fiasco in 2014 (after he had moved on) and other excesses. In 2020 Paul Gambaccini stated that he might “stand against Sir Keir Starmer at the next general election in protest at the Labour leadership hopeful’s handling of Operation Yewtree”, and Harvey Proctor’s experiences as an Operation Midland suspect form the basis for a chapter in Michael Ashcroft’s recent biography of Starmer, Red Knight.

The Daily Mail Interviews Operation Midland’s “Witness A”

From BBC News, 2019:

The Metropolitan Police ignored a recommendation to investigate two other accusers for apparently lying to the force alongside Carl Beech during Operation Midland, it has emerged.

The two complainants – referred to as “A” and “B” – had “both deliberately lied”, according to retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques in his report into the much-derided Scotland Yard investigation.

…The two men were first interviewed in September 2015, with the high profile inquiry not closing until the following March.

“Witness A” has now given an interview the Daily Mail, which has so far formed the basis for two articles in the paper by Stephen Wright and Richard Pendlebury – here and here (1). He has not, though, waived his right to anonymity: a long-lens photo by Bradley Page that appears in both articles pixelates his face, and the second article as an additional precaution has changed the colour of his jacket and removed some other identifying features. One can understand the caution: during the period when Beech was known only as “Nick”, the paper pixelated his image so poorly that they ended up being fined.

According to the two journalists, they traced down “Witness A” after receiving a leaked copy of an internal police report (“Document 1794”). This document outlines how both witnesses have histories of dishonesty (as has been reported previously, although the Mail downplays this). Given this, the headline in the second article – “questions over why officers believed their claims” – seems a bit unfair, as the document shows that apparently the officers didn’t believe their claims.

In contrast, the journalists believe that “at least one” of Witness A’s statements “had the ring of authenticity”:

‘The police wanted me to join up the dots in the Harvey Proctor case,’ said Witness A, who has never spoken publicly before.

‘They realised their investigation [into him] wasn’t going anywhere. ‘So . . .they wanted me to say Harvey Proctor did this and that, and that I saw him [do it]. They wanted me to implicate him.’

And implicate Proctor — and others — Witness A obligingly did, in interviews with detectives from Operation Midland, the disastrous Metropolitan Police investigation into an alleged VIP paedophile ring.

The timeline, however, is a bit unclear. Compare these statements:

Document 1794 also reveals that he was given a caution by a provincial police force in November 2015, for having made a false claim of a death threat against him. This was only days before he began actively assisting Operation Midland….

Witness A came forward in September 2015…

Witness A was interviewed twice in January 2016 by Midland detectives…

in an earlier interview with the provincial force, Witness A had said that in 1980 ‘Harvey Proctor took him out to a meal to Claridge’s (the five-star Mayfair hotel) and during the evening, Proctor broke down in tears and described how he had strangled ‘this kid’ believed referring to Martin Allen’.

How does this all fit together?

The timeline makes more sense if read alongside the first article based on the interview, which focuses on allegations made against Jonathan Aitken:

Witness A said he was a school-age ‘rent boy’ when, in 1979 or 1980, he went to a ‘gay party’ in Hampstead that was hosted by a ‘well-known musician’ and attended by politicians.

He said he met Aitken there, and that he and another rent boy went back to Aitken’s home ‘and done the deed’ [had sex].

He claimed it was the habit of rent boys to steal property from clients ‘in order to blackmail [them] at a later date…

‘Eventually, I decided to give them up. The age of homosexual consent had come down. Society had moved on. I had moved on from what I did before.

‘In the summer of 2005, I arranged to meet [Aitken] in Parliament Square to hand over what I had stolen.’

Witness A then told the Mail that, before being able to hand the stolen items back to Aitken, he was detained by police in London for using abusive language after being caught cycling on the pavement.

…Witness A added that, in 2015, officers from a provincial force who were monitoring him as a sex offender told him that Operation Midland wanted to interview him about the Aitken items.

The Midland officers asked him what other evidence he had. He showed them Mr Aitken’s father’s passport.

If this is accurate, then, “Witness A” did not so much “come forward” but was approached. But did the police really ask him to implicate Proctor?

On the one hand, September 2015 began just a week after Harvey Proctor had given his sensational press conference in London, in which he revealed the extent of Beech’s allegations against him and the absurdity of some of the questions that had been put to him by police. It was also the period during which Panorama was preparing an episode about the investigation, which the force had attempted to pressurise the BBC into dropping. The wheels were very obviously falling off, and so the sudden appearance of two supporting witnesses was quite fortuitous. As noted in the Henriques Report, “The intervention of A and B unquestionably prolonged this investigation”.

On the other hand, though, Witness A’s statement had the full ensemble of “VIP abuse” tropes – Leon Brittan, Dolphin Square and Edward Heath’s boat all feature – and as such it is also reasonable to surmise that his allegations were inspired by material he had found online rather than based on anything fed to him by the Metropolitan Police. Aitken was added to the story opportunistically, as he was in possession of Aitken’s stolen property. One detail mentioned in passing is that he continues to maintain his allegation against Heath, who was the subject of intense tabloid media interest following the announcement of Wiltshire Police’s “Operation Conifer” investigation in August 2015.

As regards the specifics of the Aitken claim, the journalists write that the “well-known musician” did not move into the area until a later date, and Aitken believes the items were probably stolen during a burglary in 1992. Further:

He said he could not recall the police returning any of these items in 2005, when they were found on Witness A.

Nor was he approached by Operation Midland officers after Witness A handed over his father’s passport in 2015.

‘I cannot explain why they didn’t do that,’ said Aitken.

Given Aitken’s reputation as a “ladies’ man”, involvement with rent boys seems particularly unlikely.

The second Mail article raises the issue of why the two witnesses are not being prosecuted for perverting the course of justice:

A decision not to launch a criminal investigation into their testimonies was made behind closed doors by the Met — the same force that entertained them as witnesses. But it has never publicly explained why.

Could it be that the Metropolitan Police, ashamed of its own mistakes, has been operating a two-tier justice system?

In fact, there may be a systemic problem when it is suggested to police forces that complainants may have committed perversion of justice offences.

Note

1. The Daily Mail has run many stories criticising the Metropolitan Police in the wake of Operation Midland, for the most part written by Wright. Some of the coverage has been self-serving – a number of articles pointedly criticise the the BBC and Labour’s Tom Watson while glossing over the paper’s own credulous reports in 2014 – but the various pieces have succeeded in building a campaign around police failings.

In September, the paper brought together what it called “a landmark panel of victims of police corruption, incompetence and malpractice” that included Doreen Lawrence, surviving relatives of Leon Brittan and Edwin Bramall, Edward Heath’s biographer, Harvey Proctor, Paul Gambaccini and Alistair Morgan; and Wright has now also recently sought out Cliff Richard, who expressed support for the group.

James Delingpole Promotes “Sabbatean-Frankists” Conspiracy Theory

James Delingpole, a British commentator associated with Breitbart and much given to podcasting, has recently promoted as a stand-alone clip of one of his guests expounding on the supposed global influence of a Jewish cult called the “Sabbatean-Frankists”. His interlocutor was one Michael O’Bernicia, a comedian who is better known for his stated plan to bring private prosecutions against all of Britain’s MPs, later scaled down to just prosecuting Matt Hancock. Here’s what O’Bernicia said to Delingpole:

…This Babylonian nefarious cult of evildoers, it does have a name: name is the Sabbatean-Frankists. The Sabbatean-Frankists were founded by Sabbatai Zevi in 1666. Sabbatai Zevi was a man who proclaimed that he was the foretold Jewish messiah, only that his reign over the Jews as he described [it] was entirely predicated on his conviction, and that of his disciples, that the purpose of his life was to bring about an inversion of good and evil; in other words, to turn evil into good and good into evil so that no one can tell the difference anymore. And in his mad ramblings he dictated that everybody must follow this creed to use deception or inversion against all their enemies, and all of their enemies constituted everybody who wasn’t in the cult.

Now, the reason I know this is because prior to ’91 there was an awful lot of material around about on this subject because it links directly to the Rothschild cartel, because that there is much evidence around to say that the Rothschilds are the same bloodline as Sabbatai Zevi and another man who lived in the eighteenth century called Jacob Frank in Frankfurt.

Now, Jacob Frank in Frankfurt was one of the three people, along with Amschel Rothschild and Adam Weishaupt, they they founded the Bavarian Illuminati around about 1770. Now, when this happened it was a complete secret, and what they did was they created a pact; and the pact was that they would take control of every surviving royal bloodline and and every one of the major religions, and they would take control from within in order to subvert it according to Sabbatai Zevi’s doctrine. And [to] hide Sabbatai Zevi they started calling it Frankism and that’s what it became known as and then it developed into the Frankfurt School.

What did the Frankfurt School invent? Every leftist ideology every rightist ideology and they created the false left right paradigm. Because the truth is fascism and communism are virtually identical virtually identical but they have one thing above all others in common and that is that the banker’s power remains in place but is used more aggressively that’s the major difference. Clan economy, complete control of everyone’s lives.

Doubtless, Delingpole and O’Bernicia would deny that this conspiracy theory is anti-Semitic, on the grounds that it refers only to some Jews. Indeed, it actually has Jewish provenance: the same scenario is outlined in a 1974 book by a rabbi named Marvin Stuart Antelman titled To Eliminate the Opiate (tagline: “The Frightening Inside Story of Communist and Conspiratorial Group Efforts to Destroy Jews, Judaism and Israel”) (1). However, as I’ve argued before, “Rothschild” conspiracy beliefs emerged out of an explicitly anti-Semitic context (as discussed by Brian Cathcart here), and as a paranoid pseudo-explanation for human affairs they lead back into it.

And that’s before we get onto the problem that the theory is useless and foolish – all-embracing and unfalsifiable, and derived from wild extrapolations that are completely superfluous to historical understanding.

Delingpole has long been a vector for the spread of misinformation and disinformation within mainstream media – a few years ago he seemed to be a regular presence on TV chat shows mocking the idea of climate change, despite lacking credentials, and in 2019 he was an early promotor of the “Traitors’ Chart” conspiracy webpage that was later picked up by Tom Newton Dunn at the Sun after it was revamped as “Hijacked Labour” to hide its origins. He has also always been something of a conspiracy theorist, spotting hidden left-wing influences on socio-cultural trends – back in 2011, for instance, he managed to churn out 1500 words for the Daily Mail (or maybe the Mail on Sunday) about why the BBC using the BCE/CE dating system rather than BC/AD was due to a “Marxist plot” that could be traced back to Herbert Marcuse.

Delingpole’s full embrace of the conspiracy milieu, though, coincides with the spread of Covid; I noticed last year that he was in communication with Richie Allen, and last month he was commending David Icke as “a visionary genius”. A few days ago he and his brother Richard Delingpole made a video in which they congratulated each other on being “red-pilled”. He also pondered whether the Beatles had been created by the Tavistock Institute.

Note

1. Antleman’s book drew in part on research by the scholar Gershom Scholem. Scholem received a copy, which he was moved to inscribe with the words “nonsense based on me!!!“.

New Series Charts Rise of Clay Clark and Mike Flynn’s Conspiracy Rallies

From influential Christian Right media CEO Stephen Strang:

I just watched the first episode of the new ReAwakening Docuseries that documents what’s happening in America, and I was blown away.

It’s riveting and even better than the trailer shows. It’s a powerful story about how Clay Clark’s vision to reawaken America is taking fire across the country.

ReAwakening tells the story behind why Clay Clark joined with Gen. Michael Flynn to hold huge ReAwaken America Tour events in Oklahoma, California, Florida, Texas and many more locations.

I even had the privilege of speaking at several of these events.

The series is made by Strang’s Charisma Media in cooperation with SperoPictures, which previously brought us The Trump I Know. This was a collection of interviews with women around Trump, in which the filmmakers discovered that the women and the president “share a deep love for God, family, and country”. That documentary came about after its producer, Joe Knopp, “struck up a friendship with Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, while premiering his pro-life film ‘Unplanned’ for White House staff”.

The “ReAwaken America Tour” (originally branded as “Health and Freedom” conferences) is a concerted effort to evangelise churches with pro-Trump conspiracy rhetoric and coarseness, with Flynn being the biggest draw. The most recent rally, at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church, featured Clark leading the crowd with a chant of “Let’s Go Brandon” (a surrogate phrase for “Fuck Joe Biden”) and included among its speakers Alex Jones. The next event, scheduled for Keith Craft’s Elevate Life Church in Dallas, will feature Eric Trump. While Hagee was embarrassed by “Let’s Go Brandon”, Craft is less likely to be concerned: back in March, he used a men only “Warrior Night” at his church to mock the government as “pussies” over anti-Covid measures.

Clay Clark believes that his own role in all this is prophetic:

The ReAwakening docuseries details at least two prophecies connected to Clark’s current work. “It turned out—you can find it on YouTube—in 1963, Kenneth Hagin said there would be an atheistic, communist, Marxist and racially divisive spirit that would descend upon America—sound familiar?—and that the spark of the revival would start from Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Clark explains. This August, when he held his first “Health and Freedom” event, later renamed the ReAwaken America Tour, his team called civic centers and event centers, but the only facility willing to host the tour was Rhema Bible College, led by Hagin’s son, Kenneth W. Hagin.

As the popularity of the tour grew and the demand for Clark to appear on various media outlets rose, someone sent him the Kim Clement prophecy from April 20, 2013, that seems to have a clear connection to his calling to reawaken America. It mentions a “man by the name of Mr. Clark,” and says in part, “You have been determined through your prayers to influence this nation. You’re watching me; you’re an influential person. The Spirit of God says, ‘Hear the word of the prophet to you as a king, I will open that door that you prayed about.'”

Clark has some success as a business entrepreneur, and so it is natural that he would have felt an affinity with the Hagins and their prosperity gospel teachings. Clement, meanwhile, has received posthumous attention over a 2007 “prophecy” in which he predicted that “Trump shall become a trumpet”. The context seems to have been that Clement was predicting that Trump and Bill Gates would become evangelists and that Rudy Giuliani would become president, but the most successful prophets are obscure enough to facilitate various interpretations. Clement’s “Mr Clark” (or “Mr Clarke”) was supposedly someone watching him at the time he was speaking; this person also “came on the show”, which suggests a member of a live audience.

Commending the documentary series, Clark told Strang:

So if you’re out there, and you say, ‘I want to know in the natural the truth about medical fraud, election fraud, religious fraud, mainstream media fraud, ReAwakening is a great movie to watch. If you’re saying, ‘Spiritually, I just want to be educated, I want to be inspired’ … it’s going to be fabulous.”

Clay here is slightly downplaying the QAnon-adjacent character of his rallies: the first time I heard of him was a year ago, when he interviewed Lin Wood on a podcast. Clark’s introduction referred to the “Satanic Luciferian Left”, and Wood expounded on elite “paedophilia” and “satanic worship”.

Wood has also participated in Clark’s rallies, and it remains to be seen where he stands regarding Wood’s recent denunciations of Flynn (the feud is also awkward for Strang, who previously ran an article linking Wood’s election fraud claims to his “intimacy with the Holy Spirit”)

Mike Flynn Apparently Sceptical of QAnon, Shares Article by Far-Right Radio Host Hal Turner

“2020 election fraud” lawyer Lin Wood has published evidence that appears to show that General Mike Flynn is privately sceptical of QAnon, and that he has disseminated a sanguinary article by far-right radio host Hal Turner.

First, there is audio of a phone call, in which we apparently hear Flynn claiming that QAnon was a created by “the CIA”. He adds:

There’s actually a very interesting article today out that was sent to me, I’ll send it to you, about how the QAnon movement has failed and all that.

Flynn texted or DMed Wood the next day with the details:

Here is article about Q. I have always believe it is a set up and a disinformation campaign to make people look like a bunch of kooks. [Link follows]

The url incorporated Hal Turner’s name, and it led to a post written by him titled “‘QAnon’ Proves It Has Been a Complete Fraud for an Entire Year, makes total fools of Trump Supporters on . . . Election Day”. The title here referred specifically to the group that had gathered in Dealey Plaza to await the return of John F. Kennedy Jnr (and perhaps also of JFK himself), but Turner also attacked the movement more generally. His complaint was that QAnon’s constant failed promises “is what happens when people are too cowardly to stand up, pick up guns, and go kill the people who stole the election”, and he continued by opining on the need for a “mass slaughter”.

The article has since been removed from Turner’s website, although a couple of photos and the headline remain. The original can be viewed on the Internet Archive.

Perhaps Flynn was simply negligent – stuff gets forwarded to him and he passes it around without reading it properly. But Turner is notorious, the post was quite short, and the piece made enough of an impression that Flynn talked about it and made the effort to return to it so that he could forward it to someone else. At the very least, we must wonder about Flynn’s information streams that someone like Turner comes to his attention within hours of posting something.

Wood was recently denounced by his former client Kyle Rittenhouse, and his attacks on Flynn and others appear to have been provoked by the failure of erstwhile allies to come to his defence. As well as highlighting his scepticism of QAnon (the Hal Turner angle in itself doesn’t seem to be of interest), Wood is also bringing renewed attention to the bizarre incident in September when Flynn persuaded a crowd of evangelicals to recite a distinctive prayer that was found to have occult/esoteric provenance.

(var. General Michael Flynn)

Richard Land Denounces “Let’s Go Brandon” Chant at John Hagee’s Church

Stern words from Richard Land, President Emeritus of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC:

The phrase “Let’s Go Brandon”, a euphemism for an obscene anti- Biden rant should be abhorrent to all Americans regardless of their political affiliation. And for this vulgar chant to be proclaimed in a church is blasphemous.

The phrase is a well-known as a stand in for “Fuck Joe Biden”, and it was used as a chant at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in San Antonio during the latest Clay ClarkReAwaken America” rally. The church has now issued a statement claiming that this was an outside hire and that it does not endorse the views expressed, but this won’t wash: John Hagee’s face appears on a poster advertising the rally, and as noted by the San Antonio Current his son Matt Hagee spoke at the event. Here’s how Clark introduced him:

We would not be able to host this event here if we didn’t have a senior pastor that had critical thinking skills, a senior pastor who believed in the Bible, the Constitution, and that the statistically manipulated fake pandemic could not cause the suspension of the First Amendment. So ladies and gentlemen please welcome the host and the lead pastor of this church, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Pastor Matt Hageeeeeeee…

Matt Hagee then himself addressed the crowd:

I want to tell each and every one of you who are here how proud I am of the individual decision that you have made today… By being today you have made the conscious decision to live in your faith rather than die in your fear… God bless you, have a wonderful day, welcome to Cornerstone Church.

Given this context, it is likely that the audience included many regular Cornerstone worshippers. The church only felt the need to distance itself from the event after the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant – which was led from the stage by Clark himself – went viral.

The event was the sixth “ReAwaken America” rally organised by Clark, who was previously better known as a business coach. Their purpose is to embed Trumpism and QAnon-adjacent conspiracy discourses within American evangelicalism (pastors get 50% off the price of attendance, according to the poster), and I discussed a previous rally in Colorado here. Mike Flynn was once again the headline speaker, but for the first time the San Antonio rally also included Alex Jones, just hours before Jones was found by a court to be liable for the vile lies he had previously spread about the Sandy Hook families and their murdered children.

Flynn also brought media attention to the rally with a call for “one religion” in the USA. Richard Land also rejects this:

Gen. Flynn’s statement, “If we are going to have one nation under God…we have to have one religion,one nation under God, and one religion under God” is ——unChristian,unAmerican, and unBaptistic! Has the General never read the First Amendment?

Flynn’s vision of the “one religion” is somewhat vague – we might assume that he simply means a plurality of Christian strands, but at a different event in Nebraska last month he infamously read out a prayer that was later found to be based on a prayer that appears in a work by Elizabeth Clare Prophet, which she claimed to have received from esoteric “Ascended Masters”. The previous ReAwaken America rally in Colorado also included Seth Holehouse, a Falon Gong adherent and reporter for Epoch Times, and Christiane Northrup, a New Agey “wellness” guru. Given that John Hagee’s own conspiracy teachings encompass a belief that in the last days the Anti-Christ will introduce a syncretic “false religion”, you might think he would be wary of Flynn’s motives and proposal.

John Hagee also presents himself as a fervent ally of Jews and the state of Israel, and it’s not clear how Judaism fits into Flynn’s vision. The issue is often fudged via the term “Judaeo-Christian”, the belief being that the two religions are essentially two branches of the same thing but that Jews can’t see it yet – thus there is no need for evangelicals to risk offending Jews by trying to convert them. Another aspect of this perspective is evangelical Judaic cosplay and appropriation (e.g. here and here), often under the guidance of “Hebrew Roots” teachers. John Hagee sometimes appears wearing a Jewish prayer shawl, and the ReAwaken America rally at his church also featured a shofar.

Media Profiles Anti-Vaxxer Targeting TV Presenters

Michael Chaves also linked to “Satanic Ritual Abuse” protestor Lydia Lowe

From The Times, a few days ago:

A former paramedic who was sacked after a patient accused him of stealing £800 is the ringleader of an anti-vaccination movement that protested at the home of Jeremy Vine.

In 2005 Michael Manoel Chaves and Mohammed Ali, a colleague, were dismissed by the London Ambulance Service, but were later acquitted of theft by a jury.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate says that Chaves is the leader of Learn Something New Today, a group which believes that Matt Hancock, the former health secretary, is a murderer, vaccinations will kill children and Joe Biden is not human.

Michael Chaves also features in today’s Daily Mail, although the bylined “Daily Mail Investigations Team” managed to confuse Chaves filming someone doorstepping Vine’s home with Chaves himself. The person filmed by Chaves was delivering a nonsensical pseudo-legal “notice of liability”.

The targeting of television presenters at home seems to be an extension of recent protests in central London at media offices (blogged here and here). On 2 October Chaves was present at a protest at the Kent home of TV doctor Hillary Jones – Chaves can be seen here standing next to a man with a megaphone who delivered a threatening message (“We will come for every single one of you. We will remain lawful as long as we can”).

However, the media reports have failed to notice overlap between Chaves and activists involved with the resurgent “Satanic Ritual Abuse” protest crowd that blocked Tower Bridge in August (for reasons that included demonstrating support for convicted child kidnapper Wilfred Wong). In particular, Chaves can be seen here posing with Lydia Lowe as Lowe holds up a copy of the Evening Standard headlining Sajid Javid’s attack on anti-vaxx protests at schools.

Meanwhile, Lowe’s (perhaps erstwhile) associate Jeanne Archer was recently seen protesting outside Windsor Castle, alleging that the royal family “are not even human” and torture children in Satanic rituals and then drink their adrenochrome. As ever, her group included her security escort James Zikic.