“Earthlings, prepare to be attacked…” tweeted Richard Van Steenberg in response to the recent news that Donald Trump contracted COVID-19. Steenberg, like many others who believe nefarious aliens are visiting our planet, is concerned that Trump’s recent illness is a sign of the coming alien apocalypse.
QAnon is not the only movement getting worked up over Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis. Conspiracy theorists on the extreme fringe also suspect that Trump—who they believe might be an immortal alien—might have contracted coronavirus in an attempt to shed his mortal flesh and shapeshift into something else.
Steenberg started an online petition three years ago called “Disclose: Humanoid Extra Terrestrials Live Among Us.” His website highlights the bulk of his theories and with nearly 30,000 Twitter followers and over 10,000 signatures on his petition, Steenberg is confident he knows the truth. He is a purveyor of bizarre conspiracies that are largely divorced from anything happening in the observable universe. While he has a following among conspiracy theorists, his beliefs are fringe even for that space.
“If you take the time to understand the possibility of ET being able to exist in Humanoid form (Humanoid ET), you would realize they can live among us and we will just think they are EA (EArthlings),” Steenberg wrote in an email. Steenberg asserts that there are countless alien-human hybrids who coexist with humans on Earth, and that many hold established positions of power, such as being celebrities or corporate CEOs. He believes that these extraterrestrials are engaged in a plan to subvert humanity and take control via psychological manipulation. Trump, according to Steenberg, is most likely in on the plan.
“The plan has been in action since they put us on the planet as cavemen,” he said. “I would say Trump is either a HET [human alien hybrid] or CEA [a human complicit in the alien plot] in that he has known what is going on certainly for the better part of his public life on EArth and would have known early on he would be President,” Steenberg explained. “If he's an HET [human alien hybrid], it's very probable he existed before EArth and took part in the design of the ETA [the plot to invade].”
Steenberg explained that he believes that human alien hybrids don’t really die, but are able to morph to look like whatever they want and not age. The news that Donald Trump has COVID-19 is just a distraction, as all world events are, to keep humans focused on smaller issues and not the extraterrestrials. Again, there is no evidence to back up any of this.
“So Trump getting Covid follows the same pattern,” Steenberg said. Humans will focus on the confusion surrounding the infection and how it will affect the upcoming debates and election. Spending its time worrying about Trump and Biden, humanity will not think philosophically about aliens and how they reside on Earth.
Sherry Shriner, an Ohio based conspiracy theorist, internet radio show host, and self proclaimed daughter of God, ran a successful religious movement on Facebook and YouTube in the mid to late 2000’s until she died in 2018. Her doctrine, a mix of fundamentalist Christianity and UFO religion, proclaimed that Satan had contracted evil Reptilian aliens to take over the world. Using their advanced technology, and their powers of psychological manipulation, shapeshifting, and cloning, the vast majority of celebrities and world leaders were Reptilian aliens in disguise. Shriner’s cult made headlines in 2012 when one of her followers killed themself and again in 2017, when another one of her followers shot her boyfriend in the head at point blank range.
According to her books and various social media posts, Shriner explained that she was chosen by God to save humanity from the evil aliens and Satan, their Commander-in-Chief. A handful of her followers have picked up Shriner’s ministry and have continued to spread the word. According to posts on Facebook, Trump contracted COVID-19 because he is actually under the command of Satan. Citing the fact that he contracted the virus 33 days prior to the election, and linking to other oddball prophecies found in the Nicolas Cage film Snake Eyes, it all boils down to the number 666 and that Trump has been marked by Satan.
While these are extremely bizarre conspiracies with no basis in fact, they exist in a news ecosystem, social media environment, and political environment where the truth often doesn’t matter—and where “the truth” can be very difficult to discern. People like Shriner and her followers and Steenberg and his followers exist alongside Republican operatives who suggest that Trump getting coronavirus is some sort of assassination plot either from the left or from China. Meanwhile, state-led disinfo campaign are likely continuing, though we don’t know if they’re having as much success as they had in 2016.
Steven Hassan, an expert on cult psychology and the author of The Cult of Trump, explained that bizarre beliefs—even ones about shapeshifting aliens trying to invade the Earth—all serve to muddle the truth.
“These cults and religious movements can often be linked to psychological operations,” Hassan explained over the telephone. Many people who fall into the UFO subculture are primed to believe other conspiracies, QAnon included. Dr. Steven Greer, a popular UFO pundit whose films appear on Netflix, has appeared several times on the Russian state sponsored news channel RT to talk about his method of alien contact and UFOs. In February of 2019, Greer told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze that three of his colleagues were assassinated by the CIA for attempting to disclose the truth behind a government run UFO cover-up. Moreover, in the 1950s, the US government did instruct American intelligence agencies to monitor UFO groups for dissident behaviour. A collection of people who are already predisposed to believe in something with little evidence, such as aliens on Earth, and already hold a distrust in the government and other established institutions, seem to be a prime target for easy manipulation.
These new movements which exist primarily on the internet all seem to challenge the basic foundations of democracy. The media and government is corrupted by an evil force and only “free thinking” followers can save it, predominantly via some sort of revolution or massive societal shift.
“President Trump is a symptom of a problem that we have been dealing with for decades now,” Hassan concluded. “It seems easy to write off people with strange or kooky beliefs. We shouldn’t because that is dangerous.”