Conspiracy theories are nothing new, but the way these theories evolve and spread is changing. Take QAnon, for example. QAnon is a series of mostly right-wing ideas surrounding the deep state and its plan to destroy the Trump presidency to protect the Clintons, the Democrats, the media, and the billionaires who control them.
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It got its start on 8Chan (the bigger badder brother of 4Chan) which has now re-opened as the new 8Kun after 8Chan was forcibly shut down when it was discovered that Brenton Tarrant (the Australian who live-streamed his New Zealand mosque murders live on Facebook) also had an account there.
Regular postings are made by a person with a “Q” security clearance (the highest possible in National Security circles) that have a Nostradamus-like mysteriosity and vagueness leading millions (yes, millions) to believe that many of its predictions have come to pass. Indeed, the fact that 8Chan was shuttered while Facebook was spared, is seen by some as additional proof of the QAnon theories. Due to this shut down, all Q releases (and other related data) are now posted daily on QMap.pub. Alleged Q proofs can be found on QProofs.com.
Since 2017, the theory has spread from the “chans” and infiltrated social media and the dark web. Historically, fringe theories are quickly debunked, but QAnon’s platform is reaching a large audience and taking a strong hold. Everyday Americans are influenced daily. And what began as an online faction has now crossed over into the mainstream: political candidates and other public figures are promoting (or at the very least discussing) the QAnon message. All of this is happening in one of the most important election years in American history. Here’s what you should know.
Is there a dark conspiracy to unseat the President of the United States? QAnon supporters say yes. “Q,” an anonymous, high-ranking government official, is sharing “insider information” with them. Q alleges that President Trump is secretly battling a powerful group of Democratic politicians, liberal celebrities, and the deep state.
The QAnon theory suggests that Mr Trump was preceded by criminal presidents (Democrat and Republican alike). These corrupt leaders were affiliated with various conspiracies: deep-state intelligence operations, pedophile rings, and child-sex trafficking. To end this reign of corruption, the military convinced Trump to run for president. He and fellow “patriots” (the white hats) would secretly work to take the US back from the bad guys (the black hats). But the world is allegedly overrun with satanic elites led by Hillary Clinton and the deep state. High-ranking Democrats, along with Hollywood stars, technology companies, and the mainstream media, are responsible for the evil plot to overthrow the rightful president.
The QAnon conspiracy began appearing on the dark web in October 2017. It gradually moved to more open online forums. The term “QAnon” refers to Q the informant, Q supporters and the conspiracy theory itself. The identity of Q remains unknown. But the ideas that he or she puts out can be found on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, message boards, and public records. The theory is so controversial that even the huge pro-Trump Reddit community, the_donald, removes most content relating to it because it is, itself, under extreme “quarantine” to prevent the pro-Trump message from being seen by the majority of Reddit users.
Joseph Uscinski, a frequent contributor to left-wing media sites such as the Washington Post (Owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos), studies fringe beliefs. He says, “It’s more of a cult than other conspiracy theories. QAnon is not just an idea; it’s an ongoing thing that people can sort of get into and follow along with that keeps them entertained.” The Q forum moderators (“bakers”) post clues for their followers. The cryptic hints, dubbed “breadcrumbs,” describe how President Trump is engaged in a battle of good (him) versus evil (the CIA, top Democrats, Hollywood liberals). When breadcrumbs appear on message boards or in social media, Q followers—which number into the tens of millions—get busy. They look for signs that Trump is referencing the clues via tweets. They believe that the president signals his support with Q-shaped hand gestures during public appearances. They spread the clues with hashtags and begin speculating about their meaning. And speaking of hashtags . . .
Q followers are sustained by the idea that deep state traitors are plotting a coup, but that Trump is secretly winning the war against evil. Hashtags like #Winning, #SoMuchWinning, and even #TiredOfWinning abound.
A quick Twitter search of #WWG1WGA, which stands for “Where We Go One, We Go All,” reveals thousands of tweets every day. Other Q-friendly hashtags include #DrainTheDeepState, #StopTheCoup, #CalmBeforeTheStorm, and #TakeAmericaBack.
President Trump pushes a lot of conspiracy theories to his 70 million Twitter followers. With these tweets, he tries to reshape political narratives in his favor. And every time he (wittingly or unwittingly) retweets Q content, QAnon supporters are rewarded. They receive the affirmation they crave. In January 2020, for example, Mr Trump retweeted more than twenty QAnon and #WWG1WGA messages on a single day. This sparked renewed hope that the #Great Awakening is approaching. Qs believe this #Restart will result in mass arrests of the president’s enemies, who will be hauled off to Guantanamo Bay.
The QAnon message is no longer hiding in the fringes of the internet. It’s showing up in political campaigns. It’s evident at rallies. Followers of the conspiracy theory declare themselves “patriots.” Actress Roseanne Barr, baseball’s Curt Schilling, and Fox News host Sean Hannity have promoted QAnon content. Donald Trump, Jr., RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and Congressman Jim Jordan have followers with QAnon profiles.
Many of these followers are, in turn, followed by president Trump. One QAnon promoter, for example, tweeted that an impeachment witness had bad-mouthed America. QAnon retweeted it. Then John Posobiec, a conservative political activist retweeted it. That led Don, Jr. to post it. And finally, then, so did the president. Mr Trump has retweeted at least 145 accounts that promote the theories. Dozens of these accounts were eventually suspended by Twitter, again fueling further speculation that the suppression of the theories is simply proof of their veracity.
At least six Republican congressional candidates have promoted QAnon.
Last November, Minnesota congressional candidate Danielle Stella was suspended from Twitter. She had said that Democratic incumbent Ilhan Omar should be hanged for treason. Stella used the Twitter suspension to further promote her beliefs. “The New York Times and Twitter will always side with and fight to protect terrorists, traitors, pedophiles, and rapists,” she complained.
Republican Matthew Lusk, who is running unopposed in the primary for a Florida congressional seat, is a QAnon enthusiast. Q “brings what the fake news will not touch without slanting,” Lusk said in an email. He added that he’s uncertain whether there is a pedophile ring associated with the deep state but added, “I do believe there is a group in Brussels, Belgium, that do eat aborted babies.”
And in Montana, Michael Swingley, an elected justice of the peace, used his official email account to send a message to a journalist who wrote negatively about QAnon. Regardless of “whether Q is real,” Swingley wrote, “patriots” are uniting because “your world of fake news and liberal agendas that give away our country to foreigners and protect the Clintons and Obamas is coming to an end.”
In California, outgoing San Juan Capistrano councilwoman Pam Patterson invoked QAnon in her farewell speech. “To quote Q No. 2436,” she said as if speaking of Scripture, “for far too long, we have been silent and allowed our bands of strength that we once formed to defend freedom and liberty to deteriorate. We became divided. We became weak. We elected traitors to govern us.” She ended with, “God bless Q.”
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More than 23,000 of president Trump’s Twitter followers mention QAnon in their profiles. Trump rally attendees sport QAnon signs, apparel, even tattoos. Most are everyday Trump fans who have latched on to QAnon’s partisan energy. QAnon confirms (and feeds) their suspicions about political corruption. They are emboldened by the “insider” information Q delivers.
But some followers have gone off the deep end. In 2019, the FBI warned that QAnon may present a domestic terrorism threat. This, of course, means nothing to supporters of the Q theories as the FBI is implicated as part of the Deep State. The Bureau cited concerns about violence motivated by “fringe political conspiracy theories.” Unstable individuals could be heavily influenced by QAnon’s cult-like beliefs. “Although conspiracy-driven crime and violence is not a new phenomenon,” the FBI’s bulletin said, “today’s information environment has changed the way conspiracy theories develop, spread, and evolve.”
A community college professor in Arizona was fired for promoting QAnon in the classroom. “Why aren’t more professors, teachers, cops, pastors, and woke Americans everywhere NOT talking about this?” he asked. “I pray that you see The Truth about POTUS and Q and their War against the trafficking of children.”
A 25-year-old New York man murdered a mob boss. He believed the victim was part of the deep state working against Trump. The defense attorney said that his client’s “support for QAnon went beyond mere participation in a radical political organization. It evolved into a delusional obsession.”
In Sedona, a 41-year-old man vandalized a church with a crowbar while spouting remarks about the Catholic Church and sex trafficking. The vandal’s social media posts are filled with QAnon references.
A 50-year-old Colorado woman was charged with attempted kidnapping. She conspired with fellow Qs to kidnap a child who had been removed from her custody. She believed that her child had been taken by Satan worshippers and pedophiles.
A 39-year-old man in Tucson was arrested for damaging property—he believed that it sheltered a child-sex-trafficking ring. The man alleged that he was fighting a cross-border battle that involved the Clintons and liberal billionaire George Soros.
The FBI cited an episode with a 30-year-old Nevada man near the Hoover Dam. The man armed himself with an AR-15, handgun, and extra ammunition before driving an armored truck onto a bridge. During a 90-minute standoff with police, he demanded the release of an inspector general’s report on the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. The man called himself a “humble patriot” and mentioned QAnon’s “Great Awakening” and “WWG1WGA.”
Like California’s councilwoman Patterson (see item 6), many QAnon devotees believe they’re doing God’s work. The Qmap “Prayer Wall” is where supporters pray to God for the downfall of their political foes.
In June 2019, one anonymous follower posted “You can trust Q and POTUS. The LORD is in control . . . who are we to question His WILL? Have faith! Trust The Plan! WWG1WGA! Amen!” QAnon believes Trump is the #Chosen POTUS. They say he was sent by God to restore #Patriotism. #ArmyOfGod, #Evangelical, and even #NewJesus are common hashtags on QAnon posts.
And God’s biggest enemy, of course, is Satan. Pro-Trump accounts pump out hundreds of tweets a day. The tweets are meant to demonize “Satanic” Democrats, particularly Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Much of the content includes photoshopped images and memes.
Before QAnon, there was 2016’s Pizzagate. It alleged that the Clintons and their associates were running a child-sex ring in the basement of a DC pizza parlor. (That particular restaurant doesn’t actually have a basement.) QAnon says that Trump was chosen to end the pedophilia.
I’ve been retweeted by the President of the United States, President Trump! I’m as unknown as a rock in the country. Tell me again, how he doesn’t care about us. This glorious man, has the world on his shoulders. He fights for you and for me, for America ??@POTUS
— ??????VB??Nationalist (@vmbb12) March 17, 2019
In February 2020, Trump retweeted an account that promoted a Democratic sex-trafficking hoax. “I’ve been retweeted by the President of the United States, President Trump!” said @vmbb12. “Tell me again, how he doesn’t care about us.”
QAnon supporters like Matthew Lusk (see 6 above) know how to fire up followers. They utilized the abortion controversy. South Carolina Rep. Lin Bennett, a Republican, is a staunch anti-abortion advocate. She has publicly supported QAnon, which continues to raise the issue of late-term abortions.
Then there’s QAnon’s weirdest theory. It alleges that top Democrats (baby munchers) sexually torture children to harvest adrenochrome. They use this chemical, which is derived from adrenaline, for a life-extending tonic. This chemical is said, by some, to be keeping the likes of George Soros and even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg alive.
This so called “Government” that @realDonaldTrump , @POTUS , @FLOTUS , @WhiteHouse , has to deal with… Congress , Senate , Representatives is a JOKE on the American people. The Democrats have lost their minds (Adrenochrome ) eating baby parts. My GOD Americans WAKE UP!!
— ???????K?????45 (@K12Lioness) June 15, 2019
@K12Lioness tweeted, “The Democrats have lost their minds (adrenochrome) eating baby parts. MY GOD Americans WAKE UP!!” The content was retweeted by right-wing pundit Eric Bolling, whom Trump follows.
The overarching QAnon theory is not backed by tangible proof. So, in their efforts to defend the idea of an alleged coup attempt, supporters have created or promoted dozens of underlying theories. QMap and Twitter boast thousands of “news stories”, such as:
Jurist Alan Dershowitz Says He Has Proof That George Soros ordered Obama to investigate Trump.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. is still alive and will be Trump’s running mate in 2020.
Bill Gates is behind the coronavirus outbreak.
The deep state tried to shoot down Air Force One as Trump traveled to North Korea.
Even the president’s linguistic errors are explained: “Misspellings in Q Posts and POTUS Tweets Are Intentional and Important Markers.”
QAnon says Trump was aware of the Democrat-controlled, deep-state attempts at a coup. They said that Trump was quietly working with secret ally Robert Mueller. They used the Russia investigation as a cover while working to expose and defeat the deep state. They believe that Trump has thousands of sealed federal indictments that will result in mass arrests. Obama, Clinton, and other “traitors” will be swept up and hauled off to Guantanamo Bay. #SealedIndictments on Twitter is just one way to “track” the alleged indictments.
Is President Trump intentionally fueling QAnon’s conspiracy theory? Followers believe so. This “chosen” president is secretly communicating with them as he bravely fights corruption. There can be no denying it: 2020 is going to be an interesting election year.
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