Even white supremacists reluctant to claim Dylann Roof as one of their own

Whether Roof turns out to have been a lone wolf or just a loner – “well down the path of nuttiness”, in the words of Kirk Lyons – his actions have already activated the far-right’s propensity for paranoid thinking. The Charleston killings have spawned very similar conspiracy theories to those that circulated after the Oklahoma City bombing about government “false flag” involvement – the theory being that the federal government wanted an excuse to crack down on militias and pass more stringent gun laws.

One much-forwarded comment on Vanguard News Network this week read: “The whole thing smells of psyops.” Even Lyons said he detected a “Manchurian candidate-ness” to the attack on the Emanuel AME church.

“Where do these guys come from, all over-medicated and weird looking?” he said. “I’m just wondering what’s going on here … There’s a lot of people in the system that benefit from racial antagonism.

“I don’t know – I don’t have any evidence. But the conspiracy nut in me thinks there’s maybe something.”