Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, President-elect Trump’s nominee for the position of national security adviser, traffics in conspiracy theories so detached from reality so as to be disqualifying for the position he is poised to occupy. But if that isn’t enough to cost him the plum that awaits him as one of the presumptive president’s top men, the violence his tweets—a combination of Islamophobia and sexualized sadistic fantasy—seem designed to incite bodes ominously for the security of the nation, whose Constitution he has sworn to uphold and defend.
Consider the very words of his title: national security adviser. “National,” as in all of the people of the nation. “Security,” as in the safety of all of the people of the nation. “Adviser,” as in a title for a man in the West Wing who has the ear of the president.
The promotion of false narratives by Flynn and his ilk in the fever swamps of the right culminated on December 4 with an act of violence at a pizza parlor favored by high-powered Democrats and people with kids, when Edgar Welch, a North Carolina man armed with an assault rifle and a pistol, stopped by Comet Ping Pong, the pizza place, and fired a shot into the door. His visit, Welch said, was prompted by his desire to “self-investigate” claims that the restaurant was the hub of a child-sex-trafficking ring ostensibly presided over by Clinton and her compatriots.
While Flynn himself promoted a different false child-sex-trafficking smear against Clinton, his very close adviser and then-Trump transition team member Michael G. Flynn, the nominee’s son, not only promoted the smear against Comet Ping Pong—which has been set upon by hordes from the ugliest corners of the internet—he also defended the premise held by the gunman in a subsequent tweet. “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story,” the younger Flynn tweeted. “The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many ‘coincidences’ tied to it.”
Michael Flynn Jr., the son of the man Trump picked to be his national security adviser, has assisted in personnel vetting, managing his father’s schedule, and fielding transition-related emails for the general, according to a person close to the Trump transition team. “He also accompanies his dad to a ton of meetings,” said the individual.
Once the younger Flynn’s tweet made the news, Vice President-elect Mike Pence promptly denied that Sonny-Boy Flynn was employed by the Trump team. Then several news outlets reported that he had a government email address because of his position on the transition team. On Tuesday, he was fired by the Trump transition team with no explanation, although acquaintances say it was because of that tweet.
Because of the torrent of crazy that is Team Trump, reports of the elder Flynn’s antics during the campaign barely caused a ripple in the accelerated news cycle the Trump campaign created through its use of social media, and its candidate’s relentless incendiary rhetoric. But there was Flynn on July 18, leading chants at the Republican National Convention, calling for the jailing of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. “Lock her up! “Lock her up!” he gleefully shouted, stoking the crowd. “You’re damn right!” he added. “There’s nothing wrong with that!”
In February, Flynn tweeted a link to a video called “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” reiterating the claim in the title of the video, a purported exposé of “Islamic ideology.”
He also tweeted a link to a completely false story that alleged Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff were involved in a child-trafficking ring involving now-convicted sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein, with whom Trump has also been known to hang out.
News reports have focused on the “fake news” element of the Flynn scandal, how facts no longer matter, and the dangers that portends. But there’s another narrative thread that needs to be explored: why the presumptive national security adviser and his most trusted right-hand man are engaged in deploying such fake news against perceived enemies.
Make no mistake, the false conspiracies tweeted by Flynn père et fils are incitements to violence, to internet hounding, to the smearing of opponents with made-up stories that can’t be shaken off once the mob has found a narrative that suits its collective rage. Whether by a lone wolf, as in the case of Edgar Welch at Comet Ping Pong, or a pack, as in the internet hounding of Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis and his employees, the man poised to become the president’s national security adviser is summoning wielders of pitchforks and torches to have their run at anyone who dared to oppose his candidate in a democratic election.
The nomination of Michael T. Flynn to the post of national security adviser demands nothing less than the full-throated opposition of any who would dare to call themselves liberals. It’s not an overstatement to say that the fate of the republic rests with relentless resistance to the politics of thuggery.