In the latest right-wing social media controversy, conservative online users have claimed that Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, President Biden’s pick for White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator, is a “gay Satanist.”
Seeking evidence for this far-fetched claim, Twitter users have breathlessly scoured through various pictures from Daskalakis’ social media accounts — which have since been made private — and magazine or newspaper articles touting his past work as a New York City health official and as director of the CDC Division of HIV Prevention.
Their chief piece of evidence for his alleged allegiance to Satanism is a pentagram symbol that Daskalakis has tattooed on his chest, as first reported by the Australian newspaper the Star Observer.
“Meet Demetre Daskalakis. Demetre was just appointed by Joe Biden to be the official White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator. Demetre proudly wears the official symbol of the Church of Satan: The Pentagram. Joe Biden appointed a Satanist to the White House,” Benny Johnson, the host of The Benny Report on the right-wing news channel Newsmax TV, wrote as part of a larger Twitter thread on Thursday.
Meet Demetre Daskalakis.
Demetre was just appointed by Joe Biden to be the official White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator. Demetre proudly wears the official symbol of the Church of Satan: The Pentagram.
Joe Biden appointed a Satanist to the White House. pic.twitter.com/TiMPY29AtC
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 8, 2022
“The Baphomet Pentagram is the official, copyrighted symbol of the Church of Satan,” Johnson continued. “The pentagram has long been associated with various occult beliefs. Satanism, which reveres the accomplishments of humanity and encourages believers to embrace physical wants and desires.”
Johnson included a shortened clip of Daskalakis responding to reporters’ questions at the White House about the status of the ongoing monkeypox outbreak, which has disproportionately impacted gay and bisexual men, and combating the stigma associated with the disease.
He then linked to the original White House announcement of Daskalakis’s appointment, noting that there was “no mention of the Satanism in this press release.”
“Not cherry-picking here. The Pentagram is proudly displayed in his *promotional* photos for a CDC appointment,” Johnson wrote, pointing to photos from a cover story touting Daskalakis’s position at the CDC in Plus, a magazine focusing on HIV/AIDS-related issues.
“It’s ubiquitous on his social media. Demetre has Pentagram tattoos. So it’s a fair question: Did Joe Biden appoint a Satanist?”
Johnson followed that tweet with another defending his search for evidence of links to Satanism. “I’m a First Amendment Absolutist. Demetre has the right to believe & worship anything he wants. Joe Biden did nothing illegal in appointing him. But the American public has a right to know if Joe Biden appointed a Satanist.”
I’m a First Amendment Absolutist. Demetre has the right to believe & worship anything he wants.
Joe Biden did nothing illegal in appointing him.
But the American public has a right to know if Joe Biden appointed a Satanist.
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) September 8, 2022
Other right-wing users amplified Johnson’s speculation on social media,
“[N]o one on the left will see anything wrong with it. Just check the right boxes and it replaces experience or competence,” wrote one user.
“No one is talking about legality or a religious test,” another wrote in response to someone criticizing Johnson’s thread by citing the First Amendment and noting that a religious test is not required to hold public office. “We are talking about the judgment and values, or lack thereof, of the current president.”
“Biden is normalizing perverts…” wrote a third.
Daskalakis’ embrace of unorthodox tactics in reaching out to marginalized communities when it comes to public health — as detailed in a recent Daily Caller article — and his unashamed embrace of his gay identity, appears to be too much for some conservatives.
“This is Demetre Daskalakis. He is a worshiper of Satan,” wrote one Twitter user. “He is also the new Biden monkeypox deputy coordinator. Gee, I wonder why THIS guy was chosen as a coordinator for monkeypox. I’ll give you one guess. Why is the Biden regime choosing these fu€ked up weirdos?”
Other online users, including Daily Caller reporter Dylan Housman, tweeted about how many of the posts on Daskalakis’s now-private Instagram account featured him shirtless.
But that tactic has appeared to backfire among other social media users.
“This asshole at the daily caller tried to write a scare piece on Dr. Daskalakis, Biden’s Monkeypox czar. It’s kind of worth reading the article because frankly Dylan here fucked up and made Dr. Daskalakis sound like a complete fucking BADASS,” wrote a user called Hank Scorpio.
This asshole at the daily caller tried to write a scare piece on Dr. Daskalakis, Biden's Monkeypox czar. It's kind of worth reading the article because frankly Dylan here fucked up and made Dr. Daskalakis sound like a complete fucking BADASS. https://t.co/XOy5q6EOoY
— Hank Scorpio (@the_bont_the) September 9, 2022
Former New York City Council candidate Marti Gould Cummings also came to Daskalakis’s defense, calling him “brilliant.”
In response, a user named Shea replied: “All of this only makes Dr. Daskalakis so much more appealing. By doing this, they’re showing us that we have representation who understands our community from within.”
All of this only makes Dr. Daskalakis so much more appealing. By doing this, they're showing us that we have representation who understands our community from within.
— Shea (@goodpotatoes) September 9, 2022
Benjamin Ryan, an independent science reporter and former editor-at-large for POZ magazine, denounced the homophobic attacks against Daskalakis, who is seen in photos wearing a leather harness.
In response to a tweet comparing Daskalakis to the South Park character Mr. Slave, Ryan wrote, “It was only a matter of time before conservatives began an anti-gay lampooning campaign of Demetre Daskalakis, the White House’s Monkeypox deputy, who has always been an unconventional public servant.”
Ryan was joined by historian Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, who wrote: “Disgusting. Anyone who has been following Daskalakis’ work knows that one reason he’s been so effective is that he’s been able to — and insisted on — doing research/providing care in the spaces and with the ppl many doctors and officials don’t even want to acknowledge exist.”
Disgusting. Anyone who has been following Daskalakis’ work knows that one reason he’s been so effective is that he’s been able to — and insisted on — doing research/providing care in the spaces and with the ppl many doctors and officials don’t even want to acknowledge exist
— Natalia Mehlman Petrzela (@nataliapetrzela) September 8, 2022
Daskalakis had not addressed the speculation around his alleged religious beliefs or his shirtless photos publicly, instead focusing on dealing with the monkeypox outbreak.
In a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Daskalakis explained that the number of monkeypox infections appears to be slowing down, especially in major metropolitan areas.
He attributed the decline to at-risk populations changing their sexual behaviors, increases in testing resources, and success on the part of local health officials connecting at-risk individuals with vaccines to prevent the spread of monkeypox.
Adult performer Shawn Paul Bertrand Jr., also known as Shawn Wolfe, reportedly died of a drug overdose on Dec. 27. He was 35 years old.
In a public post on his Facebook wall, a woman named Valerie Wellner, who identified herself as Wolfe's mother, wrote: "Thank you for all of your kind words. Shawn was a light in this world and he is now a light in Heaven. He is with his Kiki -- grandma, who passed away last March. He is also with all of his friends and family who went before him.
"As most of you know, Shawn passed away from a drug overdose on December 27th. He was at someone’s home whom we don’t know where that was or who he was with. This is not a message of blame," Wellner wrote.
George Devolder-Santos, who in November became the first gay Republican elected to Congress as a non-incumbent, allegedly fabricated parts of his résumé and biography, withholding details about his personal history, according to an exposé by The New York Times.
The Times alleges that Santos, a 34-year-old who previously lost a 2020 bid for the seat, which covers parts of Queens and Long Island, embellished some of the details of his work history.
For example, according to a biography included on an archived version of Santos's campaign website under the "About Me" section, he worked for Citigroup as an "associate asset manager" after graduating from Baruch College, a public college in New York City. But a spokeswoman for Citigroup, Danielle Romero-Apsilos, told the Times that the company could not confirm Santos's employment. She also said she was unfamiliar with Santos's self-described job title, noting that Citi had sold off its asset management operations in 2005 -- when Santos would have been a teenager.
George Devolder-Santos, the Republican congressman-elect from New York, who claims to be the first out gay Republican elected as a non-incumbent, allegedly concealed his marriage to -- and divorce from -- a woman.
Santos, who was elected last month to represent parts of Queens and Long Island beginning next year, came under fire earlier this week after a New York Times article alleged that he had fabricated parts of his résumé and biography, including his work history, educational background, business dealings, real estate holdings, and even his purported Jewish heritage.
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