“There’s a big overlap between conspiracy theorists, racists, gun nuts, doomsday preppers, fans of the rapture and poor white Republicans. They all have one thing in common: They feel like the oppressed underdogs.”
― Oliver Markus Malloy
The one truism that has come out of the Trump era is don’t be fooled into believing the last outlandish thing that you heard yesterday won’t be topped by what is coming today. This morning the surprise du jour is QAnon. What is QAnon you ask? Well, it is one hell of a conspiracy theory that is so off the wall and chaotic I’m not sure that most of the Trumpites who follow it understand or know what it is.
This article posted on The Intersect does a passable job of exploring the roots of the movement but can’t really do justice to the harebrained, idiocy that these people are willing to subject themselves to in the quest for their anti-American actions and beliefs. The article notes that the roots of QAnon began on a Reddit website and quickly morphed over into the anonymous 4Chan.org and 8Chan.org public posting boards. If you aren’t familiar with 4 and 8Chan, it means you are a relatively sane person who does’t need to vent your wildest fears and tall tales into the public arena. It’s not the Dark Web, but certainly on the outskirts of Dark Web town.
Briefly, the movement started due to two incidents that caught the attention of, and I hate to say it, the basket of deplorables Clinton so famously referred to during one of the debates. And, of course, the Orange One and one of his cryptic pronouncements,
Whether he knows it or not, Trump birthed the QAnon conspiracy theory with a single sentence, uttered to reporters while he posed with senior military leaders for a photo op in October last year.
“You guys know what this represents?” Trump said, gesturing to the uniforms. “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.” The Intersect
Whatever the hell that means is up for interpretation for normally intelligent people, but for the deplorables, it set in motion a movement that oddly enough gives hope to the QAnon crowd that there is something beneath all of the brouhaha and bluster that is seen so often in Trump’s day to day ramblings and at his ongoing campaign meetings that he wallows in nearly every week. This is where tin foil hats are a beneficial interpreting device that is nearly de rigueur to even vaguely understand the motivation of the QAnon devotees.
However, like all good conspiracy theories, there has to be a bit of the cryptic and a “hidden meaning” that only the faithful can discern making it an us against them situation. The quote from Trump stated “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm” was made in front if a room full of military types decked out in their best uniforms. This lead
QAnon believers that something big was afoot like a war, invasion of another country or some similar apocalyptic event. Of course, nothing happened, but that didn’t stop the tin foil hat people from reading something cryptic into the message.
When QAnon morphed over to 4chan and 8cham, a mysterious character calling him/her self Q periodically began posting enigmatic messages. Q explained he was a high ranking intelligence official buried deep in the Trump administration. Willing to believe anything, no matter how outlandish, QAnonites began interpreting the posts in light of the bizarre actions of the president. No one knows his/her identity nor the agency he/she works in. However, this hasn’t stopped his/her followers from seeing in his messages guidance for the faithful to resist and support every move Trump makes not matter how wacky.
For instance, the one I find most bonkers goes something like this. Trump faked collusion so Robert Mueller would be appointed by the Attorney General. However, this is where it gets weird. Mueller is supposedly secretly using his Special Prosecutor position not to look into collusion or obstruction by Trump and his minions, but rather, his aim is to covertly pursue dirt on Hillary Clinton and her campaign committee of everything from collusion to child trafficking. You can’t make this up.
Another odd belief that comes out of the QAnon movement is an obsession with pedophilia. Before QAnon crawled out from under the rock where it resides, Pizzagate came onto the national stage. Remember the hacked John Podesta emails? At issue was a popular pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong, and the owner’s relationship to the Democratic Party. The loony brigade went wild with speculation, but in the end, the real issue boiled down to this:
Users of the website 4Chan began speculating about the links between Comet Ping Pong and the Democratic Party, according to the BBC, with one particularly vile connection burbling to the surface: the pizzeria is the headquarters of a child trafficking ring led by Clinton and Podesta.
The heady realization that Clinton might be vulnerable led one conspiracy theorist, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, to wander into the restaurant armed with a AR 15, a Colt revolver, a shotgun and a large folding knife. After shooting up the 120 seat restaurant’s walls and ceiling (no one was injured), 45 minute later after the police surrounded the business, Madison strolled out of the restaurant where he was quickly subdued by police. In a statement after his arrest, he said he had decided to “self-investigate” the rumor of Clinton being involved with a child trafficking ring supposedly housed in the Comet Ping Pong. Not surprising, the popular pizza restaurant is both child friendly and offers ping pong tables and other rooms for craft work. How anyone would come to the conclusion it housed a child trafficking ring is anyone’s guess?
The thing about conspiracy theorists is, normally, they are harmless and deserve little more than scorn and derision and are good for a laugh before going on to other more substantial topics. Normally being the watch word here. At a Trump rally earlier this week, America got a good look at who and what QAnon supporters are capable of when they congregate at the throne that Trump built. The incident came when Jim Acosta of CNN news was shouted down by an unruly horde of Qers. Watching the video reminds me of Charlottesville, VA last year when white supremacists clashed with marchers trying to stop the hatred and bigotry. One woman lost her life as one of the white supremacists plowed his car into a group of protesters.
The pictures from Charlottesville often show young men and women sporting Nazi symbols and chanting derogatory slogans that are meant to be offensive and over the top. They often seemed possessed with hatred and vile rhetoric that is an alarming sight in today’s fragile democracy. The crowd at Trump’s rally differ only in that many of the Qers are old enough to be the mothers, dads, or grandparents of the white supremacists in attendance at the Virginia march.
And that is where it all becomes really scary.