James G. Zumwalt squanders his name -- made illustrious by his family's military legacy -- to spread false claims, Islamophobia and conspiracy theories at WorldNetDaily.
By Terry Krepel
James G. Zumwalt
Zumwalt has been kicking around right-wing circles for a while -- Accuracy in Media published columns by him, including a 2013 rant trying to portray longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin as having "Islamic extremist influences."
Of course, one doesn't get to be a WND columnist by being reasonable, liberal or even factual, so it's not a surprise that Zumwalt ramped up the crazy, with particular emphasis on being as Islamophobic as he could. In a March 2017 column, for instance, he likened Muslims to the bubonic plague:
In the 14th century, Europe was devastated by the bubonic plague, transmitted across the continent by fleas from infected rats. Back then, Europeans could do nothing to stop it. Today, Europe is being devastated by an immigration plague, transmitted by political correctness infecting free speech, thus banning the questioning of Islam’s motives and, consequently, doing nothing to stop it.
ConWebWatch has already documented how Zumwalt used a January 2018 column to engage in another anti-Muslim rant, this time involving "bestiality brothels" in Europe, asserting that these have "shockingly evolved as a result of an increasing Muslim population." In fact, as Snopes reported, this claim originated in an article in the notoriously unreliable Daily Mail -- an article that, according to Snopes, not only fails to mention Muslims or migrants at all but also fails to prove that "bestiality brothels" actually existed. As of this writing, Zumwalt's discredited claim remains uncorrected.
More bogus claims
That's not the only bogus claim Zumwalt has forwarded. Following the Parkland high school shooting, he seized on a the existence of a program at the school to claim that it let the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, escape detection earlier:
But the story all the race-baiters fail to report is the role the NAACP actually played in the high death count Cruz tallied. The reason the four police officers held back, failing immediately to neutralize an active shooter in the school, was due to law enforcement’s adoption of the NAACP’s ill-advised, social-justice “PROMISE” program a product of then-President Barack Obama’s politically motivated, race-based safer school policy. The policy sought to statistically demonstrate safer schools existed simply by police ignoring crimes committed by students, thus resulting in reports of reduced arrests. One would have thought an active-shooter scenario would have overridden such a policy. It did not; ironically, white students died due to an NAACP policy encouraging police to ignore criminal acts.
In fact, the Promise program was not designed to "ignore crimes committed by students"; it's a diversionary program designed to address root issues with youths accused of misdemeanor school-related offense instead of immediately treating them as criminals. Further, the Promise program was started in Florida by a Republican governor, Charlie Crist, and had conservative support on the federal level, and the program -- even if Cruz had been involved in it, which remains unclear -- doesn't prevent the arrest of a student making felony-level threats.
He used his Sept. 12 WND column to paint onetime Trump aide Michael Flynn as an innocent victim of the Robert Mueller prosecution machine:
Probably next to be sentenced will be an American hero Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn who briefly served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser before getting caught up in Mueller’s witch hunt. Mueller’s team manipulated Flynn in hopes he would become a lynchpin into proving collusion. His team was wrong. Charged with lying to the FBI, Flynn, ironically, was basically forced to lie about having lied as investigators simply would not accept the truth.
Zumwalt's revisionism has been endemic among right-wingers seizing on claims that some investigators didn't think Flynn lied intentionally. But Zumwalt ignored that Flynn was being investigated on other charges of making false statements, particularly regarding his lobbying for Turkey. In his plea agreement, Flynn pledged to cooperate with Mueller in exchange for the rest of the charges against him being dropped.
Nevertheless, Zumwalt continued to insist that Flynn "was forced to lie about having told the truth" and rant further about the "slash-and-burn" tactics of the Muller investigation "destroying the careers of honorable men, like Flynn."
Zumwalt embraced fake news again in his June 13 column, in which he responded to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' idea the the Second Amendment is a relic of another time. Zumwalt argues that there are times when citizens may need to lead a coup against the government, speculating on two recent examples. The first was the Watergate scandal, in which "the abuse of power during Watergate could well have led to a coup." He then writes:
The second incident during Stevens’ lifetime involves an actual attempted coup, evidence of which we see unfolding today. It is clear, 19 months after the 2016 presidential election, that high-level U.S. government players worked to manipulate events to secure the election of Hillary Clinton and, failing to do so, manipulate the ouster of President Donald Trump. The dust has yet to settle from all the activity involved, but when it does the American public will be shocked to learn how a coup attempt may well have been imposed upon it by the Deep State. Had it succeeded, it may have been an armed citizenry left to restore liberty.
In addition to the conspiratorial ranting, the WhatDoesItMean.com article to which Zumwalt links contains a blatant bit of fake news by including a graphic claiming that CNN used pictures of "the same girl in 3 different Refugee Crisis pictures being saved by 3 different men." In fact, all the images are from a single incident, and there's no evidence CNN ever portrayed them as representing anything else.
Smears and craziness
In his Oct. 24 column, Zumwalt went full Horowitz in smearing murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Like the David Horowitz-run (and even more right-wing) FrontPageMag, Zumwalt rehashed old links between Khashoggi and Osama bin Laden and the Muslim Brotherhood, treating them as if they were current at the time of his murder, apparently on the order of Saudi Arabian officials. Then he declared:
Because of his friendship with bin Laden and his support for bin Laden’s Islamic extremist ideology perhaps even knowing about 9/11 beforehand Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the apparent victim of a Saudi rendition attempt gone wrong. He was no moderate Muslim, nor was he a supporter of the U.S. and its values. For all intents and purposes, Khashoggi was a bin Laden ideological clone who preferred the pen to the sword in promoting a religion mandating Islam’s ultimate world domination.
Zumwalt is engaging in paranoid, misleading speculation. As an actual news outlet reported:
While Khashoggi was once sympathetic to Islamist movements, he moved toward a more liberal, secular point of view, according to experts on the Middle East who have tracked his career. Khashoggi knew bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s during the civil war in Afghanistan, but his interactions with bin Laden were as a journalist with a point of view who was working with a prized source.
Zumwalt then argued that Khashoggi's death should not interfere with the U.S.-Saudi relationship because it's need to stop Iran:
There have been several times in the course of world events when the U.S. allied itself with less-than-perfect partners to further U.S. interests. For example, in World War II, Stalinist Russia was an ally; during the Vietnam war, Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos was more dictator than elected president, but his country’s military bases were critical to our operations in the region; and, later, during the Cold War, we befriended China in a power play against the Soviet Union.
Even though President Trump ultimately embraced that view, Zumwalt has affixed a false extremist mask to Khashoggi and dishonestly claimed it's the real thing, then insisted that the entire U.S.-Saudi relationship be judged by that mask.
Zumwalt also wrote a column defending President Trump's reported assertion that certain other countries are "shithole countries," arguing that we need shithole countries to appreciate America more:
But returning to Trump’s alleged word usage and keeping liberal sensitivities in mind concerning developmentally challenged nations, would an acceptable alternative to “shole countries” have been “fecalized countries”? This is the term proffered by Karin McQuillan, a former Peace Corps worker, who actually spent time in Africa and agrees wholeheartedly with Trump’s description.
If "our culture" includes the lies and smears Zumwalt likes to spread, we'll pass.