“Never let a crisis go to waste,” has become a watchword of contemporary politicians. Such opportunism is not confined to those with political goals: crises offer opportunities for exponents of eclectic views.
Among the conspiracy theorists offering explanations, the coronavirus pandemic has seen the name of David Icke reappearing on national media platforms. Once a genial sports presenter, Icke declared himself the “Son of the Godhead” in 1993. Icke claims that the world is controlled by shape-shifting reptilian aliens. Icke’s views include his endorsement of the anti-Semitic 1905 forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; he claims a small group of Jews influence the course of the world’s affairs. Icke asserts that Covid-19 is being transmitted by 5G telecommunications technology, that Bill Gates is behind the conspiracy, and that the Covid-19 vaccine will mean the injection of nanotechnology into the bloodstream of the recipients, through which they will be controlled. The transmission of the protein-coated genetic material that is the virus through telecommunications masts would demand technology that still only exists in science fiction stories.
The perception of conspiracy theorists as fruitcakes tends only to reinforce them in their own certainties, official disclaimers, and disbelief of the theories by the general public, are seen by the theorists themselves as further evidence of the strength of the conspiracy that they claim exists.
As well as the conspiracy theorists, Covid-19 has prompted comments from the Christian fundamentalists. Suggestions that this is “the Day of the Lord” and that the virus is “judgement” from God have found currency among some religious groups.
Christian fundamentalists have always been selective in their reading of the Bible, selecting texts which suit their personal perspective. To point out that Jesus himself said that they would not know “the hour” has never been effective in dissuading them from their own interpretations. To point out that Christians have been declaring that the world is about to end for at least a thousand years never seems to be a discouragement.
The saddest thing about Christians claiming that the virus is a judgement come down from heaven is that it is the poorest and the most vulnerable who face the greatest suffering. Perhaps the preachers declaring that the virus is a divine punishment would consider going to Christian communities in the nations of sub-Saharan Africa in order to explain their views. A divine cause for the virus would be a contradiction of the faith that the Christians claim to believe.