(AP/John Froschauer)

Trumpist agitators are suggesting left-wingers sabotaged the Amtrak train

Jack Posobiec and others spun a whopper of a theory about the fatal crash


Matthew Rozsa
December 19, 2017 7:40PM (UTC)

It didn't take long for right-wing conspiracy theorists to whip up a frothy shot of paranoia and tall tales after Monday's fatal Amtrak train crash.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board announced Tuesday that the Amtrak train which crashed in Washington state the day before was traveling at roughly 80 miles per hour, despite traveling on tracks that had a limit of 30 miles per hour, according to The New York Times. At least three people were killed and roughly 100 others were injured. An earlier report indicated that the crash may have been caused by a track obstruction.

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It was this report which apparently provided fodder for agitators and conspiracy theorists eager to blame one of their favorite scapegoats, the ersatz, non-centralized antifascist political movement known as antifa.

The pro-President Donald Trump site The Gateway Pundit published a piece Monday citing an observation made by right-wing personalities Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec. Both had noted that an antifa-associated group had bragged on the far-left website It's Going Down about pouring concrete on train tracks in the Washington city of Olympia, as part of an anti-fracking campaign.

"Olympia is a 20 minute drive from Dupont," the article claimed, referencing the town where the Amtrak train was derailed. "In late November, ANTIFA sabotaged a train in Olympia."

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PJ Media, another conservative site, echoed this theory by writing, "ISIS shouldn't be the only terrorist group under suspicion for the Amtrak derailment in Washington this morning." Right-wing and pro-Trump pundit, Posobiec, and others of his ilk, picked up on the conspiracy theory and ran with it on Twitter.

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Taking a somewhat different tack, right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones argued that "there was a mass casualty event drill being staged at the exact time and place of the accident." There wasn't.

Incidentally, the Puget Sound Anarchists — which may not be a group so much as the name of an author on It's Going Down — bragged about obstructing track and left instructions on how readers could create their own concrete barriers in relation to anti-extraction activism. It claimed to be targeting a completely different spur of track than the one the train crashed on, but there is no evidence as of yet that this actually happened outside of the blog post.

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It's Going Down denies any involvement in any violent activism and claims that it removed the post in question months before the crash.

Naturally, as is their wont, some of these sources denied that they were suggesting the very thing they were so clearly suggesting. No, they were just "pointing out" elements of a story while they waited for the facts to come in. True journalists, all.

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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