The Oval Pawffice, a truly cringe-inducing Twitter account that cosplays as President Joe Biden’s pets Major and Winston, has started posting about a conspiracy theory.
The Oval Pawffice is one of the worst accounts on the internet. It combines cutesy animal speak with a deep sense of liberal smugness, dressing up its apologia for the current administration in words like “hooman” and “pawlieve.”
Although all this is embarrassing, none of it has caused known harm to human beings, beyond the odd eye roll or groan. Recently, though, the Oval Pawffice has started discussing and promoting a bizarre conspiracy theory about an animal rescue in Kabul.
Kabul Small Animal Rescue is an animal rescue organization in Afghanistan run by Charlotte Maxwell-Jones. Maxwell-Jones decided to stay in Afghanistan after American troops pulled out, in an effort to evacuate the animals in the organization’s care. As reported in Mother Jones, there are some aspects of previous fundraising efforts that a few people, including former Trump aide A. J. Delgado, have zeroed in on as inconsistent. In the context of the chaos ongoing in Afghanistan, and apparent grifting by a variety of people and organizations there, it’s not unreasonable to ask questions.
What does feel unreasonable is both the tone and intensity of the questioning. It goes without saying that Maxwell-Jones is in a vulnerable position and trying to do something complicated. The mechanics of getting all the humans out of Afghanistan were complex enough, but dogs don’t even speak English. The Oval Pawffice has frequently asked why Maxwell-Jones has not used social media to speak more directly to it and answer its questions. But why should she? PETA and the SPCA International have been in contact with Kabul Small Animal Rescue, and the latter has spoken on their behalf.
The Oval Pawffice, apparently unconvinced, has taken up the charge of posting about Charlotte Maxwell-Jones by asking increasingly extreme questions and hinting at increasingly extreme claims it doesn’t quite make, posed in the voice of a theoretical animal. On August 30th, after previously promoting Kabul Small Animal Rescue and their efforts, it began to question if Maxwell-Jones was ever at the airport at all.
If you search the account for mentions of “Charlotte,” it’s clear that The Oval Pawffice has tweeted about this woman at least once a day since then, often in long threads. It has said it would never trust any organization Maxwell-Jones is associated with, then apologized for being wrong, changed its mind again, and eventually accused Maxwell-Jones of having something to hide because the Kabul Small Animal Rescue Twitter account was deleted. As time goes on, the posts become more fearmongering in tone, hinting at a grand conspiracy without outright saying it.
By September 14th, it posted to both its Facebook page and Twitter that it suspected Maxwell-Jones had been captured by the Taliban and was being held hostage.
Maxwell-Jones is not being held hostage by the Taliban, and told Motherboard that she’d deleted their Twitter, calling it a breath of fresh air.
“We are trying to conduct very delicate and frankly somewhat dangerous operations to recover our animals and save others that we are alerted to, so we don’t spend much time on social media,” Maxwell-Jones said. “I don’t wish them ill, I don’t wish them well. I don’t have time to think about them with how busy we are.”
Despite how dumb its whole schtick is, The Oval Pawffice has over 200,000 followers. By broadcasting its theories on Maxwell-Jones’s work to all those followers, The Oval Pawffice is tacitly encouraging its many followers to to aggressively question, or even harass, Maxwell-Jones and people associated with her. Maxwell-Jones said that while the theories propagated by The Oval Pawffice haven’t interfered with fundraising or operations, they have reached their friends and family. Still, Maxwell-Jones isn’t bothered by the commentary online.
“I think that for friends and family having to watch some of the hateful and untrue things being said can be troubling and frustrating for them, or so I’ve heard,” Maxwell-Jones said. “But for us, it’s a non-starter.”
The Oval Pawffice did not respond to requests for comment.
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