All across the country this week, pipe bombs have been showing up in the mail of prominent Democrats and critics of Donald Trump—with NBC News listing former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, and former CIA Director John Brennan as confirmed targets. According to CBS News, a law enforcement source said at least two of the packages were crude explosives filled with black powder. The one addressed to Brennan, now a senior analyst with NBC News and MSNBC, arrived at CNN instead.
That bomb had a parody ISIS flag with silhouettes of women and sex toys above the words “Get ‘Er Done”—yes, redneck comedian Larry the Cable Guy’s catchphrase—stuck to it. According to NBC News, the parody flag was first noted on Twitter by the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay, but a “senior law enforcement official” later confirmed to the network that it was indeed the joke version with “Get ‘Er Done” and not a real ISIS emblem.
The image can be seen below (note that while NBC News described it as featuring “three women in high heels,” they do not appear to have any visible clothing at all):
(It also looks a lot like it has sex toys in it, as has happened with previous parody ISIS flags.)
NBC News wrote:
The “Get ‘Er Done” flag was originally created in 2014 by the right-wing parody site World News Bureau, for an article titled “ISIS Vows Retribution For Counterfeit Flags.” It has since been shared as a meme on right-wing websites and forums.
World News Bureau is run by a man claiming to be from Scottsdale, Arizona who goes by the name Scooter Van Neuter and also runs the parody news site BigHairyNews.com. Van Neuter is a frequent commenter on right-wing websites like Breitbart and The Daily Caller, and his account was permanently suspended from Twitter in 2017.
Does this tell us anything at all useful about who sent the bombs, other than that they had a shitty taste in humor? Not really. As Wired noted earlier today, there has been an exhausting online shitstorm of misinformation, partisan battles, and conspiracy theories over the devices and who sent them, with conservatives blaming liberals and vice versa. The person or persons who did this were probably aware that would be the case. It’s obvious that the image appears to draw from right-wing tropes in an era where conservative leaders are more than happy to deploy reckless rhetoric bordering on incitement. But in the absence of some kind of suspect—and even then, history is rife with rushes to judgment in terrorism cases—the fake flag could indicate motive, or it could be deliberate misdirection or just a pointless joke.
For now, we know what has been confirmed: The devices were sent to prominent figures associated with the Democratic Party, thankfully none of whom were harmed. There is a nationwide manhunt ongoing for any suspect. And even though the mail bombs seem to be a pretty ominous indication of where we’re heading under Donald Trump, he doesn’t seem to have thought too hard about it.