Strange (and sometimes fake) Craigslist ads regarding President Donald Trump’s rallies are nothing particularly new.
When they encourage people with COVID-19 to show up at a rally and spread the disease, however, that’s when things have turned very toxic.
A post since flagged for removal on the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Craigslist site — but viewable via archive.is — purportedly looked to recruit people infected with the novel coronavirus to attend Trump’s planned rally Saturday at Tulsa’s Bank of Oklahoma Center. It’s the first Trump campaign rally since the coronavirus pandemic shutdown mass gatherings across the country.
“If you have been diagnosed as having the Covid virus and really want to make a difference, we are hiring 20 of you to work in a large scale test on transmission of the virus,” the ad stated.
“Please assemble outside the BOK convention center on Saturday night wearing all black or if arriving in a group of 4, please dress in the following manner:
One dressed in all white
One dressed in all black
One dressed in coveralls
One barefoot or wearing flip flops.
This will make it easy to identify you.
“Singers, or people with a bad cough preferred.”
BREAKING: Craigslist ad seeking people infected with #COVID19 to attend Trump rally in Tulsa, OK.
RT—this is biological warfare.
— Mike Yoder (@Yoder_Esqq) June 16, 2020
Should the person who posted this ad be charged with a crime?
Trump’s rally has been controversial in the mainstream media due to the possibility of COVID-19 transmission, something that’s interesting coming from a media that has collectively covered one of the largest clusters of mass protests since the 1960s with barely a mention of contagion.
There’s a difference, however, between worries about coronavirus transmission and an actor actively seeking coronavirus transmission. Which raises the question: Who posted the ad?
As I mentioned right off the top, this would hardly be the first hoax Craigslist ad that has to do with Trump’s rallies.
In fact, this wouldn’t even be the first hoax ad associated with the Trump rally in Tulsa, assuming it is a fake.
PolitiFact reported on a previous post that advertised for “[e]xcited and enthusiastic MINORITY actors and actresses needed to hold signs at event in Tulsa.”
“Send headshot/resume for early consideration. *This may be applied towards community service if necessary (in lieu of payment).”
The ad, which has since been removed, was unsurprisingly found to be a fake by PolitiFact.
However, there’s a huge difference between a fake ad designed to make the Trump campaign look racist and one that actively endangers the lives of those attending the rally on Saturday.
This is likely someone involved in a sick hoax, an internet troll desperate for attention. The strange language of the ad — particularly the odd dress requirements — make this seem like a prank that seemed like a good idea at 4 a.m. in a college dorm room somewhere after more than a few intoxicating beverages.
The problem is that someone might actually take this call to action seriously, given that there are more enough people who have become convinced Trump is the nexus of evil in this world and that the supporters who show up to his rallies are nothing less than Satan’s minions.
Finding someone infected with both the coronavirus and with a case of Trump Derangement Syndrome serious enough to try to spread infection at a Trump rally may be difficult, but certainly not impossible — and that’s what’s so dangerous about this ad. It’s essentially looking to place a human biological weapon inside a crowded event simply because of the political affiliation of those attending.
If this is a Trump supporter looking to make the other side look bad, that’s even worse. One would hope no one would be so stupid as to do something like that, but someone was either dull or evil enough to post this ad in the first place, so that can’t be excluded.
Whatever the case, one hopes the Secret Service is investigating this.
We don’t know the intent behind the ad, but we can sure guess the potential effect. This could potentially end up killing people.
The responsibility for this should lie solely on whoever posted it, but we ought to consider the toxic environment in which this could even be considered possible. It’s wildly implausible that this would have happened during any prior presidency. But the country has been been whipped up to the extent that an ad like this, sadly, feels almost inevitable.
There are lessons about Trump Derangement Syndrome be learned from this. Will we learn them? That’s hoping too much.
The extent of our hope in this case is that the person or persons involved in this are tracked down and dealt with accordingly. Given that this is nothing less than a call to use oneself as a silent, deadly weapon, the possibility of criminal charges should definitely be on the table.