Culture Feature

Late Capitalism Diaries: All the Best Fake COVID Cures

There is no cure for the coronavirus, but these people still think you should give them money.

If there's one thing that can save us from a global pandemic, it's capitalism.

Maybe you think that a sense of shared humanity uniting us in collective action—with those least at risk looking out for the most vulnerable—would be a better approach than embracing greed and short-term profit. But you're wrong.

Capitalism teaches us that money is the only thing that's real and the only solution to every problem. So when people are desperate and afraid because a deadly and wildly contagious virus is killing hundreds of thousands and ravaging the global economy, what they really need is someone to give their last few dollars to.

Thankfully, the ancient, venerated tradition of the snake oil salesman is alive and well, and the following good Samaritans are more than happy to strip confused and struggling people of every last dime in exchange for "cures" that primarily treat the problem of having too many dimes.

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Music Lists

Happy Birthday, Elliott Smith: The Indie Rock Legend's 10 Best Songs

The singer-songwriter would have been 51 today.

JJ Gonson

Today, August 6, 2020, Elliott Smith would have turned 51 years old.

Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska, raised in north Texas, and spent a good portion of his life in Portland, Oregon before settling in Los Angeles. Before his sudden and mysterious death in 2003, the prolific singer-songwriter released five studio albums of poignant, rootsy indie rock, with his sixth studio album and a compilation of rarities being released posthumously. He became known for his dismal lyrics—often referencing his mental health and substance abuse habits—and his distinctively whispery vocals, which he often double-tracked to create an eerie, textured ambiance.

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CULTURE

The Infowars Heckler's Impeachment Rant Shouldn’t Surprise Us

Owen Shroyer just live-streamed a racist rant at an impeachment hearing, because what's more American than that?

A heckler from the far-right website Infowars was just forcibly removed from an impeachment hearing after delivering an incendiary and racist rant that took aim at former President Barack Obama.

"Americans are sick of your impeachment scam! Trump is innocent!" Owen Shroyer shouted early Monday morning. "Folks, Obama was emailing Hillary Clinton on her illegal server under a secret name, that came out in emails. And he claimed he didn't know she had it. Barack Obama is a treasonous ... he belongs in jail. He belongs in Guantanamo Bay. I mean look, I'm not saying this should happen but Barack Obama, you know, find the tallest tree and a rope."

Shroyer's comments were delivered in defense of President Trump, who has insofar obstructed the current probe into his attempt to persuade Ukraine to help him win the 2020 election by withholding documents and discouraging witness testimony. Shroyer delivered his rant at the start of the latest impeachment inquiry hearing, accusing Congressman Jerry Nadler and other Democrats of treason. Less than 40 seconds after he started speaking, he was forcibly removed by police.

LIVE: House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Inquiry Evidence Hearingwww.youtube.com

Shroyer is a known conspiracy theorist and instigator who has been banned from Facebook and YouTube, which is really saying something. Along with Infowars, he infamously helped spread the debunked Pizzagate theory, which alleged that the Clintons were involved in a child sex-trafficking ring.

Shroyer's comments at the hearing were, of course, deeply racist, as they concern the first African American president of the United States, but given his website's track record and white supremacist leanings, this shouldn't surprise us. Websites that perpetuate this kind of misinformation present major threats to any form of democracy and justice. Videos with titles such as "Why Impeachment Crisis Is a Textbook Lynching" add insult to injury, co-opting legacies of racist oppression and transmuting the American people's distrust of authority into fake news.

Still, we shouldn't think of Shroyer as a lone wolf or solo extremist gone rogue; rather, he's an unusually visible symptom of a much larger and very complex matrix of problems. Some of the worst perpetuators of racist systems hold positions of power across party lines, and mainstream media sources and politicians can be purchased and influenced by major moneyed influences as well. In all these cases, false information can easily become weaponized as protest and alternative versions of truth when refracted through the right's kaleidoscope of circumstances, rage, and high-profile distraction.