Absence of questions on Las Vegas massacre provokes conspiracy theories

NYT Tweet ISIS lone wolf

Pinned Tweet about lone wolf theories from NYT writer assigned to cover ISIS.

Of all the attacks on US soil, including Ft. Hood, San Bernardino, Orlando, and the Boston Marathon, perhaps none is so confusing as the Las Vegas massacre.

Because little has been disclosed about the alleged gunman, conspiracy theories are blooming. How do you know which media to trust? Even the writer covering ISIS for The New York Times has questions. 

We are told the man at the center of the killings, Stephen Paddock, was a wealthy gambler and a pilot who owned two airplanes. NBC News also reported:

“Public records show that Stephen Paddock lived a relatively transient life, having 27 different residences in California, Texas and Nevada.

From 1985 to 1988, he worked for a predecessor company of Lockheed Martin as an “internal auditor,” public records show.”

Other media such as the Associated Press said he once worked for IRS and for the US Postal Service.

If the AP claims are true, it’s odd no media have asked whether Paddock belonged to a union, typically the case for federal and postal workers.

Meanwhile, the NY Times writer assigned to cover ISIS, Rukmini Callimachi,  has posted a string of Tweets on the case, and those Tweets offer more questions than answers. ISIS has taken credit for Paddock’s crimes, but law enforcement authorities haven’t said much about that. A sample from Callimachi’s Twitter line:

“20. Given ISIS’ insistence, I’m with @AmarAmarasingam: Have any reporters asked Paddock’s brother and other family members if he converted?”

Recall it was Callimachi who wrote about the improbability of the ‘lone wolf’ theory earlier this year. A link to that column is posted as a pinned tweet on her page. At present Callimachi’s series of Tweets on the Vegas case is mind-provoking when it comes to the complexities of the man media and law enforcement believe is responsible.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka has also criticized the concept of the lone wolf as relates to international terrorists—the reach of the Internet and other propaganda tools is extensive.

In 2016 MEMRI posted an analysis of the ‘lone wolf theory’—it is definitely worth reading. Author  A.J. Caschetta recounts the history of the term and how it has historically been applied, and how it is currently applied.

Now James Brower, of Massachusetts, who worked with others on President Donald Trump’s campaign, is claiming Paddock made an ISIS video.

Media have also reported there was another person with Paddock at times in Vegas, that he did a dry run at another concert site, and that he had explosive materials on hand.

As we watch followup coverage about Paddock and his actions, many Americans are dismissing the idea he may have been sympathetic to an anti-American terrorist group in a foreign land. However, such sympathy has occurred before. For instance, we recall the case of John Walker Lindh of California who reportedly converted to Islam when he was 16 years old.

Besides theories about connections to ISIS, some have posited Paddock was a rabid anti-Trumper who deliberately targeted a country music concert because of perceptions such music fans are conservatives. That in itself is not correct, but media often stereotype others without any basis in logic or fact.

What do we really know so far?

A 64 year old man allegedly killed and injured a lot of people in Las Vegas. Because we are being told so little about him, we have to assume he was the most private man on the planet despite reportedly living in multiple residences, being a high stakes gambler, and working for two federal agencies.

If that’s not a recipe for cooking up conspiracy theories, I don’t know what is.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Oct. 6, 2017)

About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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