During the March 11, 2020 episode of his online show, Get Off My Lawn, far-right commentator Gavin McInnes and guest, failed congressional candidate Shiva Ayyadurai, spread the unfounded conspiracy that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was actually a “bioweapon” of some kind. (The title of the episode, “Biowarfare”, made McInnes’ position abundantly clear.)
McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys — a violent, neo-fascist hate group — told Ayyadurai that “the media’s totally overreacting” to the coronavirus, which he falsely called a “very contagious flu.” Ayyadurai responded by saying the “two viruses” at work, which he named “BSMSM-20” — “bullshit mainstream media” — and “BSSCI-20” — “bullshit science.”
He segued into a discussion on vaccinations, wondering why the coronavirus outbreak occurred shortly after anti-vaccine activists torpedoed a New Jersey bill that would have barred almost all exemptions to vaccines for students. Ayyadurai appeared to link the two phenomena.
As Ayyadurai rattled off facts about the infectivity rate of viruses and the need to consume enough Vitamin A, McInnes muttered that “This is sounding complicated.” Eventually McInnes interrupted Ayyadurai to say, “Okay, this is getting too complicated. I just wanna know if it’s a bioweapon or not.”
Ayyadurai then pivoted, suggesting that such a thing was entirely possible, referencing some “1,500 nucleotides that it’s unclear where they came from.” He said that “people thought it was that market” in Wuhan where the virus originated, but that “when they found the one individual, he looks like he wasn’t even in that market.”
Ayyadurai continued to feed this baseless conspiracy by adding that the aforementioned “nucleotide sequence” was examined by unnamed “biologists,” who concluded that “it doesn’t look accidental.” “It looks like that 1,500 sequence, which is different than the SARS, it looks like it was engineered,” he claimed.
He also admitted that he hadn’t “had a chance to look at it,” but that this conspiracy was “very plausible.”
Then, on the March 16, 2020 episode of Get Off My Lawn, McInnes donned a protective mask and gloves to discuss the coronavirus once again. After downplaying the deadliness of the virus, McInnes played a clip of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez encouraging people to go to Chinese restaurants in response to racist backlash against Asian-Americans.
The clip was from before large-scale quarantines took place in the U.S. in response to COVID-19. Ocasio-Cortez recently tweeted that people should “PLEASE stop crowding bars, restaurants, and public spaces right now. Eat your meals at home.” Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted in agreement, adding, “If you can stay home, stay home. And wash your hands.”
McInnes, who has a long history of racist and otherwise bigoted remarks, paused the clip and said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. It’s not racism. It’s not prejudice. It’s post-judice.” McInnes asked, “Statistically — say we are worried about food — out of all the food that’s gonna get you sick, aren’t the odds higher that it’s gonna be Chinese food?”
No, Gavin. No it isn’t.