So if you’ll remember my presentation to the class on the new conservative voices on Twitter, you’ll recall that some were fairly extreme. You’ll recall that there’s been a proliferation of these voices thanks to the dropping of barriers involved in online publishing, the volume of falsified news stories, and the general propensity towards pile-on, doxing, and general bullying that occurs.
While all of those factors have led to more extreme voices on the platform, and across the web writ large, they have also led to the creation of a more insidious, more bizarre, and possibly dangerous cult. I am talking about the cult of Qanon, or just simply: Q.
First, let us define cult, lest I offend anyone who may think I’m just taking [another] opportunity to malign conservative voices.
- a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing
- a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object
With this definition in mind, let me try to explain what Q is. A large – seemingly growing – number of people believe that there is an individual, Q, who holds a high-level post in the government. This individual has top secret security clearance and is working in conjunction with President Trump to save America and the world. Q posts anonymously on 4chan, providing his followers breadcrumbs in order to follow and understand what Trump is up to and to spread the gospel to those online.
If you feel so compelled to, feel free to watch this video as a primer. Warning: its pretty creepy.
They believe that this war is a war against:
- deep-state actors/general Illuminati forces seeking to oppress the common man
- general evil perpetrated by these aforementioned forces to spread poverty using the Federal Reserve, sickness using vaccines, and moral depravity using the mainstream media and Hollywood
This group burst into the mainstream in the summer of last year as followers displayed support for their mysterious hero during one of the President’s rallies. Most viewers of the phenomenon were understandably perplexed, as few in the normal public had ever heard of this group. The Qanon group, in an ongoing theme you see with followers, believed that this was a coordinated effort to paint the group as fringe and deranged.
In an effort to keep this short, and to retain whatever sanity I have left, I’ll divide this post into a few parts:
- What they believe
- How they operate
- Why they pose a danger
What They Believe
Followers of Q, or “anons,” have a set of beliefs, some constant and some that seem to change with current events and circumstances. The most consistent narrative is that there is a large, shadowy underworld which dictates your day-to-day experience. Something like an Illuminati runs the world. They use politicians like Barack Obama to gain political favor, media outlets like CNN to control the narrative, and financial vehicles like the Federal Reserve to keep us away from the gold standard (in order to keep us all in debt).
And that’s the tame stuff.
They [of course] believe that 9/11 was an inside job. They believe that Trump has recently re-opened the prisons at Guantanamo Bay in order to imprison the [almost entirely Democratic] political underworld – or, in Trump parlance – the “swamp.”
They also believe that JFK Jr. is still alive. Read that again. They believe that JFK Jr. faked his death in order to go into hiding only to return to restore America to the great promise of his father. They believe he had been conspiring to do all of this with Trump for years. To them, this photo is proof:
They even think JFK Jr. might be Q:
The sad thing is, like most cults, their beliefs are simply a reflection of their anxieties. Some examples:
- The human brain hates randomness. It craves order and consistency. The belief that 9/11 was executed by the government, or that school shootings are false flags, can provide some explanation for why these terrible things are happening more and more in our hometowns and in our schools. It’s an easy-to-understand explanation, and something – or someone – we can fight against.
- A historic number of Americans carry crippling debt. By believing that the Fed and other financial intermediaries have done this to you, you absolve yourself of blame. This isn’t your fault. You were playing a losing game to begin with. (The inequities and downright usury that exists in commercial lending does lend some validity to this belief, but that’s beside the point here.)
- Our democratic process is increasingly becoming a plutocracy. Voters feel completely removed from the process that elects to power the people that fight for our interests. Believing that there is one – or a team – of individuals working against a nefarious force reflects this frustration.
Oof that got sad, huh?
How They Operate
As I mentioned, Q drops “breadcrumbs” for this followers as a way to keep them informed as to what is happening behind the scenes. His followers take this to new heights of weird. They DO NOT believe in coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. They use these clues to confirm what they already believe. Sometimes they are…a stretch.
They use Q posts to confirm what they already believe:
They use the posts to confirm Q’s direct link to the President:
They use the posts as proof of Q’s inside knowledge:
I could easily make another post entirely about how weird and depraved the work they do is to put the pieces together.
Why They Pose A Danger
As entertaining and weird as this all may be, the Q phenomenon represents some very real dangers. Their conspiracy theories trade in some veiled anti-Semitic tropes, promote violence, and create the very fake news they believe is thrust upon them by their enemies.
At the heart of the Q belief system is the theory that a few individuals run the world. Of those individuals are members of the enormously wealthy and Jewish banking family, the Rothschilds. This family has been the target of anti-Semitic lore for over 200 years. A recent addition to this tradition includes the enormously wealthy – and Jewish – George Soros. Whether or not they know it, the anons are trading in the very same conspiracies the Nazis used in propaganda films in the 1930s.
The group, indirectly and directly, promotes violence. Q posts and dialogues have led some to take up arms and matters into their own hands. Last year, an armed man posted up on the Hoover dam and demanded that the government release reports on Obama’s alleged sex trafficking. A group of anons called Veterans on Patrol recently took over a homeless clinic claiming it was a sex trafficking post. Last summer, anons posted the work address and photos of the office of Michael Avenatti, lawyer of Stormy Daniels. Anons are clearly primed for directives.
Lastly, and ironically, they trade in the very fake news that they believe is disseminated by major media outlets. One of the more upsetting examples is the recent conspiracy that Ruth Bader Ginsberg died following surgery earlier this year.
The theory began gaining in popularity among the anons:
The implications of bat-sh*t crazy people rampantly sharing what they consider news should be clear to us now. How we stop it without incurring some actual violence? I have no idea.