Lauren Boebert, a Republican congressional candidate who has expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, has also been touting the endorsement of white nationalist and former Colorado GOP Rep. Tom Tancredo.
As the coronavirus death toll mounts, Tancredo has been sharing dangerous COVID-19 lies, including posting memes falsely suggesting that Bill Gates created the virus, that former President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping coordinated to release COVID-19, and that masks are dangerous to use. He also posted a meme that celebrated the photoshopped image of a truck running over protesters and having blood splattered over the front of the vehicle.
In addition to serving five terms in Congress, Tancredo was a Breitbart columnist and a board member for the white nationalist group VDare. He was set to speak at an April 2018 conference for the group in Colorado Springs but the venue cancelled the event after receiving criticism for hosting VDare, which numerous media outlets in Colorado have correctly identified as a white nationalist organization.
Tancredo has a long history of racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. He suggested that the United States bomb “the holy sites in Mecca and Medina” in Saudi Arabia; said that Miami, Florida, had “become a Third World country” because of its Spanish-speaking population; and claimed that undocumented immigrants are “coming here to kill you and to kill me and our families.”
Boebert recently won the Republican primary in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. She previously expressed support for QAnon, a violence-linked conspiracy theory based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as “Q" that have spread rampantly on social media and among fringe right-wing media. Boebert was interviewed about the conspiracy theory in May, stating that she was “very familiar with” QAnon and hoped that the conspiracy theory “is real because it only means America is getting stronger and better,” adding that it “is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger, and if this is real, then it can be really great for our country.” (For more on QAnon, go here.) After her primary win, she has attempted to distance herself from QAnon.
Boebert accepted Tancredo’s endorsement in January 2020, stating: “For ten years Representative Tom Tancredo led the charge in Congress to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws. I'm thrilled to earn his endorsement!” Tancredo recorded a radio endorsement for her campaign in which he said, in part, “I’m asking you to send Lauren Boebert to Congress because Lauren Boebert has the same fight in her that I brought to Washington.”
Tancredo’s radio endorsement is currently promoted at the top of Boebert’s media page on her campaign site.
Tancredo’s Facebook page has been a cesspool of bigotry, conspiracy theories, and incendiary rhetoric.
Recently, he has pushed conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. For example, he posted a meme featuring Bill Gates holding a photoshopped sign stating: “Create computer virus. Create anti virus software. Profit. Repeat with humans.” He shared a meme with pictures of former President Barack Obama and Chinese President President Xi Jinping alongside the text “impeachment failed, release the virus.” He also posted a meme on March 4 claiming that “more Americans have died from knowing Hillary Clinton than from the coronavirus.”
He also posted a false meme that advised people to not wear face masks and shared a Breitbart-originated video of a recent press conference in which a discredited Dr. Stella Immanuel falsely touted hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus “cure” and discouraged wearing face masks.
There have been numerous incidents in which people have run over protesters with vehicles, including the murder of anti-racism activist Heather Heyer in 2017.
The New York Times reported on July 7 that “there have been at least 66 car attacks nationwide since George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis police on May 25,” according to Ari E. Weil, the deputy research director at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats of the University of Chicago. The Times noted that memes of cars hitting protesters have been spreading online and wrote:
“It is not just an extremist thing here, but there are social media circles online where people are sharing these and joking about them because they disagree with the protests and their methods,” said Ari E. Weil, the deputy research director at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats of the University of Chicago. “Sharing memes and joking about running over people can lead to real danger.”
Vehicular attacks have proliferated in recent weeks. Experts believe it is because of the combination of widespread protests across the country and the circulation of dangerous memes among extremist groups about running over pedestrians.
“There has been an increasing amount of propaganda online calling for vehicular attacks on protesters, targeting the Black Lives Matter movement in particular,” said Josh Lipowsky, a senior researcher at the Counter Extremism Project. “It is being used as a form of intimidation against them to get them to halt their protests.”
Tancredo also posted a racist and xenophobic meme of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).