In a Facebook post last week that linked to an outlandish conspiracy theory, Idaho State Rep. Bryan Zollinger suggested Black Lives Matter caused the Charlottesville violence earlier this month. “I’m not saying it is true, but I am suggesting that it is completely plausible,” Zollinger wrote when a commenter replied that the theory was "crazy."
The article Zollinger posted, which was published by The American Thinker, claims that the violence at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally — which claimed the life of 32-year-old social justice advocate Heather Heyer — was staged by a number of prominent Democratic elected officials and progressive grassroots movements to undermine President Donald Trump. The article read:
So were the events of Saturday the result of a despicable plan to further undermine Trump? There was plenty of time and Charlottesville is the ‘capital of resistance.’ If it was, it was evil and deadly and the people involved need to be prosecuted. Or is this a wild conspiracy theory? Perhaps. But the pieces fit.
Last Friday, in an interview with Idaho's Post Register, Zollinger said that the far-right conspiracy theory was "probably wrong." “In hindsight, maybe it was a mistake to post it,” Zollinger said. “I didn’t mean for it to ruffle any feathers.” However, after the story gained traction, Zollinger made an about-face and defended his position. “At first, I felt genuinely bad that maybe I had offended somebody,” Zollinger told The Idaho Falls Post Register on Monday. “Since then, the amazing amount of hate and the despicable things that have been said about myself, my wife, my kids, I’ve doubled down.”
The American Thinker article also claims that former President Barack Obama has set up a "war room" in Washington, D.C., to strategize how to bring about Trump's demise. Zollinger, who created the Idaho Freedom Caucus, told the Post Register that the far-fetched notion that Obama would have helped orchestrate the deadly violence in Charlottesville was not without merit. “(Obama) was a community organizer before he was the president of the United States,” Zollinger said. “I still do think it’s plausible.”
In response to the Charlottesville incident, the former president cited Nelson Mandela in a tweet: "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion ... People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love ... For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." Within days, Obama's post became most popular tweet of all time.
As for Zollinger, in an attempt to show up his critics, the Idaho state representative has said that five donors have pledged to make campaign contributions for every negative email and social media post he receives. “We’ve decided to at least make this more enjoyable for me,” Zollinger said.