Monthly Archives: August 2020
What a week! American Madness official release date was Tuesday and it’s been so great to see the book featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as well as an excerpt on Literary Hub. Most exciting of all is seeing people posting pictures of their copies of the book and telling me that they’re starting to read it.
For my column this week I decided to solicit my social media for conspiracy questions. Here’s a few of them. I’ll be doing another “ask me anything” column in a couple months, titled “American Madness–spoilers edition” after people get a chance to read the whole story.
First up, not a question, but a comment I got on Twitter that I want to talk about:
Tea this book foreshadows what we are living in right now and especially applicable to another Phantom Patriot in 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed protesters in Kenosha. –Sleepersound
Yes, Tuesday was an absolutely horrifying night in Kenosha (about 40 miles to the south of where I live, Milwaukee) after a militia member killed two people and severely injured a third. Kyle Rittenhouse, spotted in the front row of a Trump rally in January, thought he was fighting for justice and the American way, much like the main subject of my book, Richard McCaslin (aka the Phantom Patriot) did. McCaslin heavily armed himself and raided a place called the Bohemian Grove in 2002 (but didn’t kill anyone).
Also of note– the leader of the Kenosha Guard (a sort of ad hoc militia that organized an event page encouraging armed citizens to show up in Kenosha) sent the police chief a letter proudly noting that the group had been reported on by InfoWars, Alex Jones’ media site. Jones was an inspiration to McCaslin and several others who have committed violent acts over the years.
Have you ever heard a true ends to the means on the flat earth theory? I’m not a believer in many conspiracy theories–but I can understand why someone would when presented the outcome.–Addo
That’s something I was curious to find out when I attended a flat earth conference last November, which I write about in a chapter of American Madness titled “The War Against Science.” If it had been discovered that the world was flat, why cover it up? Science is always evolving with new data, readjusting when they find a theory to be wrong, so what is the gain in the alleged lie?
Flat Earthers say it’s all because of greed from NASA. They started out wanting to explore space in earnest, but when they discovered the truth, they needed to maintain the lie to get paid. They couldn’t get their massive annual budget ($22.6 billion) for space exploration if there is no space beyond the dome covering the earth. So there you go, follow the money…follow it to the end of the earth.
Any thoughts on the whole “hitler got to Argentina” thing? (Yes, I use a lower-case spelling of his name intentionally)— Shane
Shane, I’ve read about a few Nazi conspiracies– the escape to Argentina in a U-boat, the alleged hidden base in Antarctica, the UFO program. I really like reading classic conspiracy stuff like this and the JFK assassination (even if I don’t believe it). In this case, I think it’s well proven that Hitler died in Germany. One piece of solid evidence was an analysis matching his teeth to those found in the remains in his bunker: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/05/21/hitler-teeth-test-dispels-myths-nazi-leaders-survival/627831002/
What are the main tenants of the Q “movement?”— Samwell
QAnon beliefs are always morphing and spinning new ideas, but the core belief is that an evil cabal of Democrats, Hollywood, the mainstream media, and other liberal villains are secretly running a satanic child sex trafficking ring, engaging in cannibalism, and harvesting adrenochrome from victims to get high on. The believe a secret informant calling themselves “Q” is leaking information on Trump’s secret plan to bring this cabal down, a period of reckoning called “The Storm” which will lead to a “Great Awakening” of the truth. It’s very cult-like in it’s cognitive dissonance.
Other terms to be wary of– the QAnon motto “where we go one, we go all” (wwg1wga) and #SavetheChildren, a hashtag they’ve sadly hijacked, infiltrating the actual problem of sex trafficking with Q nonsense.
Are more groups like QAnon who have been found making up things going to become more commonplace? What do you think would happen to their followers if they were shown who was behind it? –Discordia
Discordia, I’m afraid both parts of this answer are painful. First, yes, I do think QAnon and other groups will continue to grow, especially in this time of madness. A QAnon believer, Marjorie Greene, is most likely going to be elected to Congress and there are a couple other candidates who have a shot. Trump himself said he liked QAnon because “I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.” When that type of legitimacy is given to a group like this, it emboldens them and makes it easier to recruit new members. I think it’ll be easy for similar groups to gain traction.
To the second question, I think that “Q” is most likely a troll or combination of trolls, but sadly even if there was solid evidence of this you could present to Q followers, they will dismiss it. You might lose a few believers, but the core group will say anything you try to present to them is a “deepfake,” “fake news,” or a “hoax.”
It’s frustrating– as I discuss in American Madness, once you go down that rabbit hole, it’s really hard to come back from it.
For more ways you can support me and my book, please see this entry: “American Madness is Out Now!“
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Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.
There’s something I’ve often thought about over the last few years (and was recently asked in an interview)– does Trump actually believe all the conspiracy theory shit he spews or is it a cold, calculated act? I think there’s a couple answers to that. One, he very much believes that his gut instinct is equitable as a fact. Two, he knows that conspiracy theories can be weaponized to attack his opponents. Sure, the “fake news” media will call him on it, but oh well– it’s already been blasted out to millions of Twitter followers and FOX viewers, who will take it as fact.
As I talk about in my new book American Madness (officially out next Tuesday) in a chapter titled “The InfoWars President,” Trump’s first legacy as a conspiracist is as a heavy promoter of “Birtherism,” the racist false narrative that President Obama was actually born in Kenya, and thus not eligible to be president. Trump went on a media tour, talking up how Obama’s birth certificate was a fake, and spreading the conspiracy far and wide in 2011.
Last week, he decided to pull that dirty trick out of his playbook again. After Kamala Harris was announced as Joe Biden’s VP pick, the conspiracy-sphere quickly got to work, suggesting that Harris wasn’t eligible as her parents were both immigrants. When asked about this at a press conference, Trump does what conspiracy theorists do best when confronted– they waffle. As Slate.com reports:
When he was pressed on the issue, Trump continued to push back: “I just don’t know about it,” he said. The president then seemingly got angry at the reporter suggesting he knew the claims were not true. “Don’t tell me what I know,” he said. He kept on insisting he had no idea what the truth might be. “To me, it doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. “I don’t know about it. I read one quick article. The lawyer happens to be a brilliant lawyer, as you probably know. He wrote an article saying it could be a problem. It’s not something that I’m going to be pursuing.”
Meanwhile, over at Trump’s buddy Alex Jones’ website, InfoWars, they decided it was time for a Pizzagate revival (another theory I talk about in a chapter of American Madness) with this headline on August 12: “Wikileaks Emails Show Kamala Harris’ Sister Attended Hillary Clinton/Podesta ‘Pizza Party.'”
Pizzagate suggests that Hillary Clinton, her former campaign manager John Podesta, and other Democrats were running a pedophile sex trafficking ring out of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington DC, using pizza variations as code words for sex slaves. Podesta really is to blame for this, I suppose. Wikileaks documents show that the dude really loves pizza.
After Harris was announced as VP pick, InfoWars found their smoking gun– yeah see, Kamala Harris’ sister, Maya, attended a “Pizza for Hillary” event at Tony Podesta’s house, who is the brother of Clinton campaign manager John. Guess who else was there? James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong.
Pizzagate became a core value of QAnon believers, who have recently been hijacking the hashtag #SavetheChildren to try to infiltrate their beliefs. A lot of well intentioned people are getting sucked into theories about George Soros, Clinton, and pepperoni pizzas.
Related news: Trump just acknowledged QAnon on record, to my knowledge for the first time. When asked about recent Congressional candidate (who will likely win) and QAnon believer Marjorie Greene, he responded:
“Well, I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate. But I don’t know much about the movement. I have heard that it is gaining in popularity and from what I hear it’s– these are people that…don’t like seeing what’s going on in places like Portland, and places like Chicago, and New York and other cities and states. And I’ve heard these are people that love our country and they just don’t like seeing it.”
His “I don’t know much about the movement” is such bullshit– really dude? You’re the President of the United States, you don’t have the resources to find out? Have an advisor get on Google for you.
But of course it’s not that he doesn’t know, it’s that he doesn’t care if it benefits him in some way. Like I said in this column last week, a cult hanging on his every word is something Trump’s ego won’t let him refute, no matter how delusional and dangerous they may be. 2020: The Year Conspiracy Destroyed America continues.
American Madness is available at Lion’s Tooth: www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/
Quimby’s: CLICK HERE Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE
and wherever books are sold. Add “to-read” on Goodreads CLICK HERE.
Here’s my recent appearance on See You On The Other Side, where I discuss the book with Mike and Wendy:
I’m working on a project where I’m conducting surveys with a few subcultures/ social movements/ fandoms. I currently have an open survey for those that identify with the furry fandom. The goal is to find data to how furs have responded to events of the last few years and in particular, 2020.
Patch O’Furr, who reports on news related to the furry fandom on his site Dogpatch Press, was very helpful in reviewing my survey questions to make sure they were worded in a sensible way. He wrote a nice intro to me and the survey here: https://dogpatch.press/2020/08/11/furry-survey-tea-krulos/
I’m writing about furries in a respectful (but truthful) way. Personal info won’t be shared. If you’re reading this and identify as a furry, I hope you participate/ share! Here’s a direct link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZC2B88S
This survey will be open until Halloween (Oct.31)
Thank you, my furry friends!
author, American Madness
My new book American Madness has a chapter titled “Q,” which is an introduction (and some case studies) of QAnon, a cult-like group of conspiracy followers that believe that there is a secret Democrat pedophile/ cannibal/ adrenal gland harvesting ring (Pizzagate, which I also write about in my book, is an early example).
Messages from a shadowy source that calls themself “Q” delivers cryptic messages about how Trump is working on a secret “Storm” that will sweep up this network of evil Democrats (Lock them up!) as well as Hollywood (Lock them up!), the Fake News Media (Lock them up!) and the many other enemies of America (Lock them up!).
QAnon mythology has spun out of control to create some pretty wild theories— that “mole children” are being held captive underneath Central Park, or that Tom Hanks, part of the pedophile ring, was secretly executed for his crimes and images you see of him now on TV are “deepfakes.”
[By the way, a quick PSA: Over the last week QAnon has been trying to hijack the hashtag #SavetheChildren and infiltrate Facebook events to spread their theories. Child trafficking certainly is a terrible reality, but use caution when seeing people saying they “do their own research” on this topic. Source: “QAnon Followers Are Hijacking the #SavetheChildren Movement,” New York Times]
You can imagine my surprise when I saw a report from Media Matters in America back in February, sharing their research that there were about two dozen candidates running for Congress that had showed some level of endorsement for QAnon. Two dozen! Crazy!
When I went back to reference the report a couple months later, I found it had been updated to show that number had doubled to about 50 QAnon candidates (although many listed had already dropped out or were eliminated in primaries) and that the candidates were benefiting from a QAnon superPAC called “Disarm the Deep State.” When I checked again for this column, the article had been updated to include over 70 QAnon aligned candidates (in total, including ones who have dropped out).
The source: “Here are the QAnon supporters running for Congress in 2020,” Media Matters for America
But they can’t possibly win, can they? It would appear the answer to that is YEP.
The first successful QAnon candidate is Marjorie Taylor Greene, a construction company co-owner who is running for Georgia’s 14th District. After placing first in a primary last month, she beat her Republican rival in a run off election on Tuesday.
Greene’s district is deep red, which means that barring some kind of Christmas miracle, her Democrat opponent, Kevin Van Ausdal, has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. Republicans usually win here in all offices by 70-75% of the vote.
Trump congratulated Greene in a tweet, saying she was “strong on everything and never gives up–a real WINNER!” Trump has never spoken about QAnon, but I imagine that having his own cult worshiping him is satisfying for his massive ego.
Most of the people of the 14th District are pro-Trump and so Greene speaks their language well, even if they can’t hang with the QAnon stuff (but most probably think it’s true on some level). Her twitter bio describes her as “Christian, Wife, Mom, Small Business Owner, Proud American, 100% Pro-Life, Pro-Gun, Pro-Trump, MAGA.”
She’s been open about her association with QAnon throughout her campaign, once explaining that QAnon was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out” and that Q is a “patriot worth listening to.” She even said in an interview that instead of Satan, this cabal sometimes refers to the deity as “Moloch” and you will find a very direct tie to that statement in American Madness.
In addition to QAnon crap, she also rallies the Trump constituency by throwing out racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic comments. She knows how to throw out red meat like this video where she has “a message for Antifa terrorists (click)– stay the hell out of northwest Georgia (click). You won’t burn our churches, loot our businesses, or destroy our homes.” Ok, Marjorie:
It looks like Greene might not be alone, either. Another QAnon promoter, Lauren Boebert (owner of Shooters Grill, where the staff is encouraged to open carry) is running in Colorado’s 3rd District and is favored to win. 18 other candidates have officially made their way on to ballots across the country.
And QAnon candidates aren’t the only ones running on a conspiracy/ extremist agenda. Check out a column I wrote in May: “Trump Inspired QAnon followers, Proud Boys, Gun Nuts, Racists, all Have 2020 Campaigns.”
Right about now I think we could all use a dose of good news, so there is some from this last week– one of the people I wrote about in the column I just mentioned, the awful “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, who once bragged that his inhumane “Tent City” detention center was like a “concentration camp,” lost his bid for re-election for the second time.
This week also saw Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist, defeat a 10-term Democrat incumbent in Missouri’s 1st District (which includes St. Louis) primary. If Bush wins against her Republican rival in November, she’ll be the first black woman to represent Missouri in Congress. In fact, as Forbes reports, “Women of Color Are Running for Congress at an All-Time High” this season.
Despite these inspiring stories, I can’t help but feel that a terrible door has been opened with Greene. It’s tempting to downplay her win– she’s just 1 of 435 members of the House of Representatives, but what is going to follow? An entire QAnon caucus? A task force to investigate Democrats for imprisoning “mole children?” A Flat Earth Party? It seems like any batshit crazy bad idea is possible right now.
2020: America’s reign of conspiracy continues.
My book American Madness discusses QAnon and much more. It’s officially out Aug. 25!
I’m going to be talking about the book live with my friends at See You on the Other Side this Tuesday, Aug.18, 8pm (CST). Check it out on Facebook Live here: https://www.facebook.com/othersidepodcast/videos/600326817340446/
American Madness is available at Lion’s Tooth: www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/
Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE
and wherever books are sold. Add “to-read” on Goodreads CLICK HERE.
Diorama from Feral House on Vimeo.
First, I like to remember that there’s always new readers, so here’s a short intro– my name is Tea, and in 2009 I ran into a story that forever changed my life. I’ve always been fascinated by subcultures, and the “underground,” and I found a report of a movement of people that adopted their own comic book style personas and called themselves “Real-life Superheroes.” I wrote a magazine article about a RLSH here in the Milwaukee area named The Watchman and thought there was a bigger story so I traveled around the country, met about 100 RLSH, went on patrols, did research, interviews, had some strange moments, got punched in the face, and met a lot of cool people I’m still friends with today.
The result of all this was my first book, Heroes in the Night: Inside the Real-Life Superhero Movement (2013, Chicago Review Press). There’s also a brief revisit to the RLSH (and a man who called himself the Phantom Patriot) in my new book American Madness (Aug. 25, Feral House).
I’m currently working on a research project that studies subcultures/social movements in the year 2020 and their responses to topical issues. That’s about all I can say about it right now. I’m not trying to be mysterious (or am I?) I’m just not sure what the final form of this project will be yet.
A logical place for me to start with this was the RLSH community, where I already had connections. Word of the study was spread on my Heroes in the Night News Facebook page. Many RLSH shared it on Facebook and on a RLSH thread on Reddit.
There were 56 responses, which I believe is a good sample size for this movement. It’s unknown exactly how many active RLSH there are– it isn’t like a club where people pay membership dues, anyone can say they are a RLSH, and people often disappear into the night (or the Internet).
I asked three RLSH I thought would have good insight for their estimate on active RLSH. Rock N Roll, one of the organizers of the multi-city Initiative teams says “maybe 100.” Discordia, who runs the site RLSH News places it slightly higher at around “120-140” or up to “200 if being generous.” And Razorhawk, a well connected RLSH, puts the range “between 100-200.”
My goal was to ask about topical subjects– the 2020 election, Black Lives Matter, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Polling is useful to see if a group leans strongly one direction or another on issues or if they’re split.
The “RLSH 2020 Survey” was 10 questions long. Questions 1-3 asked for name, city (or cities) they were active in, and any team affiliation.
Florida and California led with participants with 8 and St. Petersburg led the count by city with 6. There were 5 from Texas and Oregon, 4 from Seattle and 3 each from Illinois, Tennessee, and New York City. 15 other states had 1-2 representatives.
Several teams were represented, with the most coming from various branches of the Initiative and the Xtreme Justice League, followed by Bay Coast Guardians (St. Petersburg), ECHO (Seattle), PATCH (Chicago), and Firebirds (Dallas). Update– I’ve been informed that Bay Coast Guardians and Firebirds are divisions of the XJL.
Q4: Asked what activities RLSH engaged in. Participants were allowed to choose more than one answer. The results:
Homeless outreach: 50.88%
Patrols and Outreach: 66.67%
Q5: Asked who RLSH had voted for in 2016. My main reason for including this was to see if there had been any major shift in the community from 2016 to 2020. RLSH respoded:
Clinton: 35.85% (19)
3rd Party: 30.19% (16)
Not eligible: 18.87% (10)
Didn’t want to: 5.66% (3)
3 skipped the question
Q6: See chart below. More than one answer was allowed.
Worst: 49.09% Bad/Bad: 49.09%
Bad person/good president: 3.64% Good person/bad president: 1.82%
Good/Good: 1.82% Best: 1.82% Mixed feelings: 9.09%
Q7: Who will RLSH vote for in November?
Interesting in that after Biden (47.17%), 3rd Party candidates came in second (33.96%), similar to results from the 2016 election. I should have specified this more. If any RLSH are reading this and voting 3rd Party, please comment on this blog post to tell us if you’re voting Green, Libertarian, or something else, I’m curious to know. Trump got 5.66% and 15.09% said they are not voting, though I didn’t ask specifically if that was because they were ineligible or didn’t want to.
A clear majority here– 83.93% of RLSH support Black Lives Matter, 5.36% (3 respondents) said they prefer the term “All Live Matter,” 1 respondent said they were indifferent, and 8.93% (5 respondents) said none of the answers above reflected their feelings.
Another clear majority and perhaps not surprising as many RLSH wear a mask for long periods of time, sometimes while they’re running through alleyways. 91.07% said people should wear masks to prevent COVID while 8.93% said people should choose whether or not they want to.
When I first started interviewing RLSH in 2009, they would often tell me that RLSH shouldn’t “be political” and I noted several cases where RLSH from extremely different backgrounds and belief systems worked together on various efforts.
But that was a different time. This answer was split Yes: 23.21% No: 28.57% Depends: 53.57%
Thank you to all RLSH who participated. I’m keeping the info on who partook confidential, but one was Superhero of Clearwater, Florida, who took the survey just a three days before he died. You can read my obituary of him here: teakrulos.com/2020/07/20/death-of-a-superhero/
And please support the fundraiser in his honor here: www.gofundme.com/f/old-superhero
There is a giveaway for FREE copies of my book American Madness on Goodreads, open through Aug. 10. You can enter here: www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/309615-american-madness-the-story-of-the-phantom-patriot-and-how-conspiracy-th
It’s available at Lion’s Tooth: www.lionstoothmke.com/american_madness.html#/
Bookshop.org: CLICK HERE
and wherever books are sold.