Conspiracy theories for kids
Mar 4, 2021 | Ran Porat
Books promote hate and hidden antisemitism
Wild and baseless conspiracy theories, often tinged with antisemitism, are bread and butter for a notable Australian website promoting extremist and hateful content, Gumshoe News. In the previous edition of the AIR, I covered the promotion of Holocaust denial on that website.
This article focuses on a series of children’s books written and published by Dee McLachlan, the founder and editor of Gumshoe News. The books appear likely to indoctrinate young minds with dangerous conspiracy theories, bias and prejudice. Instead of teaching children to use logic, healthy critical thinking and reason, the books use scare tactics, teaching them to reject logic and rely on fear – always doubting and dreading governments, scientists, businessmen and bankers. Hidden in the plots of the books are innuendoes and references to classic antisemitic tropes.
Dee McLachlan (whose birth name was Duncan McLachlan) was born in South Africa in the early 1950s. She settled in Victoria after immigrating to Australia in 1999 and later transitioned her gender.
McLachlan directed, produced and wrote the script for several films. She won awards for “The Jammed” (2007), which dealt with human trafficking and sexual abuse, and her “Who Wants to be a Terrorist” (2012) featured a story about a reality TV show to choose the best terrorist.
An avid anti-vaxxer, McLachlan actively opposes the Australian Government’s COVID-19 approach, while claiming the virus is a part of an evil conspiracy to control humanity and reduce its population. Along with other extremists, she participated in an online group agitating against coronavirus lockdowns, which also included Australians Max Igan and Sufyaan Khalifa, both promoters of antisemitic material.
“Living in muzzle-city (Melbourne) this last winter,” McLachlan noted in a recent article, “was like being on a dystopian film set. The city was named after Lord Melbourne, but Lord’s [sic] real surname was Lamb – most apropos for obedient Melbournian sheeple being prepped for their genetically altered destiny.”
In her 2016 book Enough is Enough – intended for adults, not children – co-authored with Gumshoe contributor and Holocaust denier Mary W. Maxwell, McLachlan talks about “Chilling Similarities between 9-11 and [the 1996] Port Arthur [massacre].” Maxwell explains in the preface that the book shows that the Port Arthur massacre, in which Martin Bryant shot dead 35 people and wounded 23 others at a Tasmanian historic site, was actually “part of a very well-planned effort by persons who would be in a position immediately after the event to control the police, the hospital, the media, and the law courts. Persons who could lie, plant evidence, intimidate witnesses.”
Other conspiracy theories, fake news and anti-Israel blood libels promoted by McLachlan include claims that the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy and the 9-11 terror attacks were both “inside jobs” that were somehow also masterminded in Israel; that an Israeli missile struck the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000; and a story about “Project Pogo & Project Zyphr”, which she claimed were plots by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency to kill Americans.
Doing it for the Kids
Between 2012 and 2013, McLachlan published five children’s books under the pen name Dalia Mae Lachlan. The books are all available for purchase in Australia (for example, via Dymocks, which ships the books from a US warehouse). Collectively, the book series is titled “Awaken Your Kids” and promoted though the website www.awakenyourkids.com. Every book in the series includes an introduction, where McLachlan states that:
“When your kids grow up as informed, open minded and questioning adults, they will have the insight to lead and choose leaders who reject violence and corporate greed. The books are one early step to understanding the complex world we live in, and to encourage the desire to question and ask for truth.”
Yet, truth is hardly a central feature of McLachlan’s children’s books. Instead, the characters are situated in plots echoing and promoting crazed conspiracy theories and lies, about governments hiding the truth while trying to control the brains of citizens, and about evil people of power and money and malevolent scientists – all of whom are white men.
While McLachlan is careful not to specifically mention the Jews as her villains, some parts of the plots in her books appear to be based on classical antisemitic tropes and/or anti-Israel slurs.
The Three Tall Buildings
The Three Tall Buildings is a gloomy and dark story about the 9-11 terror attacks. It claims, for example, that Osama bin Laden (“an evil man living in a cave far, far, far away”) may not be responsible for 9-11 and that the impact from the airplanes hitting the World Trade Centre in New York City was not enough to topple the buildings. Instead, it says, “someone had put explosives” to take them down – a lie refuted many times over.
The story also says:
“Then one day a secret message was sent out. ‘Don’t come into the new city,’ one message said.”
This paragraph from the book is alluding to an antisemitic email sent using the Israeli messaging software Odigo to two employees of the company in Israel on the day of the attack. The message included a general warning of an attack, without indicating a location. Similar messages are very common and sent daily. Unsurprisingly, on Gumshoe News, the Odigo story has been presented as proof Israel was behind the September 11 2001 terror attacks in some way.
Another baseless conspiratorial claim about 9-11 advanced in The Three Tall Buildings is related to the US stock market, with the book suggesting that “Other people even put bets on that something bad was going to happen.”
The Big Fat Bank
A second book, The Big Fat Bank, depicts bankers as evil, greedy and bloodthirsty, and appears to be loosely based on a classic conspiracy theory that includes strong antisemitic elements. The original conspiracy talks about three families – the Rockefellersand two Jewish families, the Rothschilds and Sassoons – and their alleged plot to take control of the world’s most powerful political financial institutions.
The book says:
“Well, about a hundred years ago, three wealthy bankers got together in secret. And, behind locked doors, while they puffed on their cigars, they plotted to make themselves rich. Very rich.
The bankers were greedy and wanted to be richer than all the kings, all the emperors, and all the rulers of the world.”
In the book, the bankers’ evil actions include money printing, high interest loans, political intrigues, destroying the environment and starting wars to divert attention from their mischief.
The People Who Refused to be Sheeple
In another book, The People who Refused to be Sheeple, the plot focuses on “the super-rich” (gathering at the Bohemian Groove) who conspire to reduce Earth’s population and enslave humanity by planting mind-control chips into their bodies: “They [the super-rich] said: People are vermin and it will be mayhem like mice in a plague, we need to control them.”
McLachlan throws a variety of conspiratorial and fearmongering fables into the plot. For example, to control people, the protagonists use money, mobile phones and fluoride. They conspire to brainwash children in schools and on TV, buy the press and create puppet political leaders to send people to die in wars.
Published almost a decade prior to the coronavirus pandemic, The People Who Refused to be Sheeple is also the flagship of McLachlan’s antivax campaign, presenting vaccines as a means to take over humanity: “Problems they’ll solve with a giant vaccinator and control all your lives with a global dictator.”
Other books in the series
The Factory that made Guns is a story about a greedy businessman converting an agricultural factory to a weapons factory. In order to boost his profits, he plants a bomb to scare the king into a war on a “kingdom in the desert that was just minding its own business” – most likely a reference to the US wars in Afghanistan and/or Iraq in recent years, and possibly to 9-11.
The Great Monster Corn touts conspiracy theories about the effects of genetically modified corn.
According to McLachlan’s website, she is working on several new children’s books: Felix and his Bum-Chip, The Brave Little Drone, Saving Hawk, The Electric Car, The Naked Flyer and The Girl that came by Boat.
It would be a mistake to judge McLachlan’s children’s books as ridiculous or harmless; they are not. These books may well result in the poisoning of the minds of children between the ages of five and 12 with hatred and blind rejection of authority, reason and logic, leading kids to accept wild and disproven conspiracy theories. And that is not funny at all.
Dr. Ran Porat is a research associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University, a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya and a research associate at the Future Directions International Research Institute, Western Australia.