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Opinion

Conspiracies, anger and protest

Long Island members of the Facebook and advocacy

Long Island members of the Facebook and advocacy group Setauket Patriots pose in Washington, D.C. Wednesday afternoon shortly after President Donald Trump addressed protesters. Credit: James Robitsek

Daily Point

A never-ending series of conspiracy theories

On Monday night, James Robitsek, the founder of the Setauket Patriots group and its Facebook pages, had a "goodbye for now" message posted for him, on the remaining page of the group that has not been shut down.

It had to be posted by someone else for him, because he also has been banned from Facebook for 60 days.

And the message, or part of it at least, will not be welcomed by fellow Trump supporters who believe most ardently in the QAnon conspiracy theories that say Trump’s time in office is not over and that there is a secret plan to arrest many top-ranking politicians and take over the government.

Robitsek’s message was posted by the group’s new administrator on the Facebook page, a private group, after the social media giant shut down the Setauket Patriots' 23,000-member public page and suspended Robitsek a few days ago. In the message, he says he’s taking a step back and thanks the group for four years of good times and great relationships formed.

But the message also says, by way of explanation for why he feels comfortable backing off, "it’s over and Trump is no more, there’s no Army generals or inner circle bullshit that’s going to happen."

In a phone call with The Point Tuesday, Robitsek said: "We were never about all that crazy conspiracy stuff, or violence of any kind. We are a peaceful group that has been holding events for years with no violent incidents, that raised money for charity and collected toys for kids, and we supported Trump. We went to the rally in Washington to show our support for the president, and to send a message, but we didn’t know it would get violent and we never advocated violence or participated in it."

But even as Robitsek is leaving the group and its leadership, much of the content now on the page disputes his dismissal of the QAnon conspiracy.

One post put up Tuesday morning read: "Why has everyone lost hope? Keep a stiff upper lip!"

Another shared a message from unhinged former Trump attorney Lin Wood, claiming that "Child sex trafficking and pedophilia are the worldwide pandemic" and claiming that over the next 10 to 14 days "Revelations will relate to Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Chief Justice John Roberts, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Mike Pence, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Gates and thousands more."

And then, as if created to make the point that the conspiracy theories engulfing MAGA world have gotten too complicated to ever be unraveled, came the post:

"WARNING DO NOT ATTEND armed protests at State Capitols Before Inauguration! - POSSIBLE SINISTER PLOT HATCHED BY RADICAL LEFT TO TAKE AWAY GUN RIGHTS."

So anyone looking for history to be made just might have found it. There is finally a conspiracy theory circulating that claims leftists are going to hold fake MAGA events … the "it’s really ANTIFA theory" conceived as an excuse BEFORE those events turn violent at the hands of the actual pro-Trump attendees.

Unless, of course, the rumor that it’s an Antifa plot was itself started by Antifa to keep Patriots from attending.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Backlash intensifies against Zeldin

The backlash against Rep. Lee Zeldin’s refusal to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory remains strong and loud. On Tuesday, activists from local organizations, including the North Country Peace Group, rallied at the Shirley Republican’s Patchogue office, taping a symbolic "warrant for a citizens arrest" to the door, according to NCPG member Susan Perretti.

Perretti says members have discussed the possibility of a more-sustained protest presence outside his office.

Since his votes just hours after his colleagues were in grave danger of physical harm, Zeldin has been the subject of social media anger, a petition-signing campaign demanding his ouster, and a complaint calling for an investigation filed by Riverhead activists with the inspector general of the U.S. Army Reserve, in which Zeldin is a lieutenant colonel.

Some of his fellow House objectors are experiencing similar fallout — including upstate New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has been removed from the Senior Advisory Committee at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Potential challengers to Zeldin are also stirring. John Feal, a 9/11 responder and advocate, has called on Zeldin to "resign or be expelled."

"Or just wait for me to beat you in 2022. You have engaged in Insurrection, Sedition & your Treasonous actions led to the loss of life," Feal tweeted on Sunday.

Chris Murray, chair of the board of trustees for Suffolk County Community College, took a lighter approach.

"As a Democrat who feels strongly that Lee Zeldin should not be in Congress, the calls for him to be expelled are misplaced," Murray wrote in a letter to Newsday. "He has not broken any law, and to take his fate away from the voters shows the same disrespect for democracy as President Trump."

Murray said Zeldin should be "punished through losing re-election," and he told The Point he is moving toward a run himself, including looking to hire someone to help out, and getting more involved in the online maelstrom: "I am hoping to have social media in place within the next month."

Asked about the pushback, Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz sent a statement about some Democrats objecting in a similar fashion to previous Republican presidential wins, despite those limited objections coming after the losing candidate in question had conceded, versus President Donald Trump encouraging that the vote be overturned.

"It's an incredible double standard that if Republicans object as well on the same date in the same place as part of the same process then that makes them all seditious traitors," the statement said in part. "Those who committed acts of violence in the Capitol must be held accountable. Those eager to use Wednesday to settle political scores though are only dividing our country more."

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Trump's logic

Matt Davies had an abundance of cartoon ideas this week. Here’s a good one that just didn’t make the cut.

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/cartoons

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