We tend to think of reactions to Jones as binary: Either you’re crazy enough to believe him, or you’re not. But it’s really more like a sliding scale, as we can learn from Twin Falls, Idaho. In 2016, two boys from Sudan and Iraq, a seven-year-old and a ten-year-old, attempted some kind of sex act on a five-year-old white American girl. By law, the details are unclear; the police reports are sealed because everyone involved was a minor. But the media was able to piece together that the seven-year-old “touched the girl inappropriately,” while the ten-year-old used a phone borrowed from his 14-year-old brother to record it.
It was obviously a terrible situation, but as the case’s lead prosecutor pointed out, it’s not unheard of with children. Sometimes it’s all down to horribly misplaced curiosity, while other times the perpetrators have themselves been victims of sexual abuse. Whatever the cause, the boys pleaded guilty and were sentenced, and the situation was resolved as well as a situation like that can be.
Then thousands of shitty people, both local and not, did what thousands of shitty people will do: They started Facebook groups to advance an agenda. They quickly agreed upon a variety of nasty and far-fetched fabrications, including that the perpetrators were Syrian refugees, that a father had high-fived them in congratulations, that adult men had been involved, that the girl had been held at knifepoint, and that the municipal government and the police conspired to suppress the crime.
Infowars ran an article with the headline “REPORT: Syrian ‘Refugees’ Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho.”
Of course, neither of the boys were Syrian and there was no knife, but that was somehow the least of the article’s problems. Infowars claimed that an older brother had directed the younger boys to rape and then urinate on the girl, and that it was all part of a spate of crimes by Muslim refugees (refugees in scare quotes, naturally) that also included spitting in the faces of non-Muslims, as well as a rash of hit-and-runs.