Tag Archives: QAnon

QAnon: Nazism Repackaged?

I haven’t written about the QAnon conspiracy, because it has seemed so ludicrous. Remember the deranged believer who traveled to a DC pizza parlor to rescue children being held in the basement–only to discover that not only weren’t there any children, there wasn’t even a basement…?

Most rational Americans dismissed both the shooter and the conspiracy that motivated him as elements of a small wacko fringe.

Still, a growing number of reports suggest a troubling growth of the cult, and I read somewhere that  at least 80 self-identified adherents had run for Congress in GOP primaries. (At least two emerged victorious–one for Congress in Georgia, one for Senate in Delaware.) And in a recent poll, 33% of Republicans responded that they believed QAnon was “mostly true,” while another 23% said they believed it was “partly true.”

If–like me–you’ve been vague on the disturbing beliefs and origin of the conspiracy, a recent article from Salon provides details:

QAnon, known for their outrageous conspiracy theories, believe that the U.S. government has been infiltrated by an international ring of pedophiles and Satanists and that President Donald Trump was put in power to battle them. And Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch and an expert on the history of anti-Semitism, believes that there are parallels between QAnon’s outrageous views and the views that Nazis promoted in Germany during the 1930s.

Describing QAnon’s views in an article published by Just Security on September 9, Stanton writes, “A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power. Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.”

The parallels are certainly frightening. The anti-Semitic 1902 pamphlet, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” is apparently central to both. Stanton points out that QAnon’s ideology is a “rebranded version” of that pamphlet, and that its membership has grown especially rapidly in Germany. (Others have connected QAnon to the Fundamentalist Christian belief that before Jesus returns, believers will be “raptured” to heaven and will  avoid the “tribulation”–a period in which the Antichrist will attempt to rule via a “one world government” and force people to adopt the “mark of the beast.”) 

Drilling down: QAnon members core belief is that a secret, Satan-worshiping cabal is taking over the world. They believe that the members of that cabal kidnap white children– just white children– and keep them in secret prisons (like the one presumably located in the pizza parlor’s nonexistent basement) that are run by pedophiles. They also believe that the “cabal” slaughters and eats children to gain power from the “essence” in their blood. It’s here that we can clearly see the parallels with the blood libel charges against Jews, who presumably needed the blood of white Christian children for our matzoh. (These are clearly people who have never eaten matzoh, which is utterly devoid of moisture of any sort…)

This mythical cabal controlled the American presidency under Clinton and Obama, and it lurks in a ‘Deep State’ financed by Jews, especially George Soros and the Jews who “control the media.” Its members want to disarm citizens and defund the police, to promote abortions and homosexuality, and especially to open borders and allow brown illegal aliens to invade America and mongrelize the white race.

The racism embedded in all this is hard to miss. It’s also hard to believe that people who actually believe any of this are sufficiently competent to tie their shoes in the morning, let alone function otherwise.

Yet we are told that this “movement” has grown by the millions.

Like Donald Trump, who appears to be a fan of QAnon because it worships him, and like the Nazis before them, the followers of QAnon seem bent on revenge and retribution for mythical offenses. They babble endlessly about “The Storm” that is coming, by which they appear to mean a coup followed by a bloodbath. That, too, is reminiscent of Nazi style. Maybe they should just call themselves Storm Troopers.

One reason for QAnon’s explosive growth may be that–according to the FBI– promulgating QAnon has become a project of the Russian intelligence services, which have their internet armies spreading it online. So far, at least, Republican leaders have refused to denounce it, essentially acquiescing to its ongoing influence in the marginally less insane cult that is today’s GOP (although, as more outlets have been reporting on the conspiracy’s influence within the Republican Party, Talking Points Memo reports Pence did drop his planned attendance at a Montana fundraiser hosted by QAnon supporters.) 

Welcome to loony-tunes land. If it weren’t so potentially dangerous, it would be hysterically funny….

 

Funding Insanity

What if we discovered that the attendants in a mental institution were reassuring patients that the aliens they were seeing were real? That they should listen to and believe the voices in their heads? At the very least, we’d wonder why–what nefarious scheme could account for actions clearly motivated to confirm inmates’ insanity?

The Guardian has raised a very similar set of questions, but about the GOP. It reports that groups tied to Donald Trump’s chief of staff and several party mega-donors are funding GOP candidates who champion the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Republican party leaders linked to the White House helped boost the primary campaign of a QAnon supporter with a history of making racist and bigoted statements, campaign finance filings show.

Campaign finance reports show contributions to QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Green’s campaign from groups connected to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and his wife, as well as the chairman of the board of the Heritage Foundation,  the attorney who represented “Covington Kid” Nicholas Sandmann (aka “the smirking kid”) in his defamation suits against the Washington Post and CNN, and multiple Republican mega-donors.

“Getting involved in a primary on behalf of an absolutely insane, conspiracy-minded, explicitly racist candidate in a seat that is reliably conservative is mind-bogglingly irresponsible,” said Tim Miller, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee who is now political director for Republican Voters Against Trump.

For readers who may not be familiar with QAnon,  it’s a conspiracy theory rooted in age-old antisemitic tropes. Followers believe that Donald Trump is waging a secret battle against an evil cabal of Democrats, celebrities and billionaires who are engaged in pedophilia, child trafficking, and even cannibalism. The movement has repeatedly inspired vigilante violence–remember the guy who shot up the D.C. pizza. parlor?– and the FBI. has warned. that it represents a potential domestic terrorism threat.

A few high-profile Republican leaders spoke out against Greene after Politico unearthed and published videos of her  making racist and. anti-Semitic statements, and the Koch Industries Pac requested a refund of an earlier donation. But her campaign continued to be backed by  other major Republican donors and influential political leaders. The Guardian report lists a number of them, including a  Pac run by Representative Jim Jordan, who has been dogged for years by allegations that he knew and did nothing to stop sexual abuse of student athletes at Ohio State University when he worked there in the 1980s and 90s.

Greene received $2,800 from John W Childs, the former chairman of JW Childs Associates who stepped down after being charged with misdemeanor solicitation in an investigation related to the suspected human trafficking sting that led to the arrest of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Childs denied the charge at the time and said he had retained a lawyer. Kraft pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor solicitation charges.

QAnon is reminiscent of other fringe movements in the Republican Party–the John Birch Society comes to mind. (Remember when the Birchers accused President Eisenhower of being a conscious Communist agent?)

The. other morning,  Mike Pence was on CBS This Morning,  and was asked about QAnon.  He pretended to know nothing about it. Meadows has also professed ignorance of it. Those denials ring very hollow, leaving us with two possibilities: (1) having engaged in pedophilia and/or trafficking themselves, Greene supporters from the Trump cult  (aka “projection-is-us”) actually believe in QAnon, or (2) they don’t believe  in QAnon,  but do believe that encouraging the racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry that is at its core will help them win the election.

Either way, it’s a sad–and revealing– commentary on a once-respectable political party.

 

 

The Triumph Of Quackery

We are seeing what happens when the “fringe” goes mainstream. (Well, perhaps not mainstream as in “mainstream American society” but mainstream as in “takes over a President and his political party.” Mainstream Republican, in other words.)

When belief in science threatens the bottom line, when those pesky things called “facts” are politically inconvenient, when the complexity of modern life requires an acknowledgement of uncertainty–people who are profoundly uncomfortable with those realities retreat to the conspiracy theories and bright lines that have long characterized beliefs of people we might refer to as “untethered to reality.”

As Richard Wolffe recently asked about one such “untethered” person in the Guardian, “What kind of buffoon brags about taking a drug that could kill him?”

Wolffe acknowledges that–among the many ailments Donald Trump has inflicted on his own country – there is one worse than hydroxycholoroquine, unsafe and ineffective as the FDA says it is for this use.

But it’s even worse that he is a one-man delivery vehicle for a dunce cult that denies science.He represents the nadir of a long tradition of conspiracy-loving wingnuts who used to populate the fringes of the American conservative movement. Over the last half-century they have moved steadily into the mainstream of the Republican party, where their fact-free fairytales about the evil establishment have found a natural home in the cranium of the 45th president.

In this age of hyper-connected ignorance, there are no independent experts and there are no true facts. Your scientific theories are equal to my Twitter theories, just as your FBI investigation into Russia is equal to Rudy’s supposed investigation into Ukraine. All opinions are equal, but some are more equal than others.

As Wolffe notes, slap a respectable-sounding name on groups espousing bizarre theories, and watch the desperate-to-be-believers lap it up: the staid-sounding Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, for example, has denied that HIV causes Aids (citing “official reports and the peer-reviewed literature”) and revealed that Barack Obama was using “mass hypnosis to bamboozle voters with his fancy speeches,” among other “scientific” discoveries.

According to recent surveys, most Republicans want scientists out of the policy process. Before the pandemic, just 43% of Republicans thought scientists should play an active role in policy debates, compared with 73% of Democrats. This at a time when so many policy issues–from auto emission standards to public health standards–require an understanding of what credible science tells us.

Even fewer Republicans – 34% – think scientists are any better at making decisions about science policy than you or me.

These opinions did not crawl out of the primordial soup on their own. They have evolved over time in a warm bath of fringe conspiracy groups that have spent decades fighting against the teaching of evolution, among other social evils. One of those groups was Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, which worked to push evolution out of the classroom, almost as doggedly as Mrs America fought against women’s rights and the Equal Rights Amendment.

So it’s no surprise to find her son Andrew named as general counsel to the AAPS. Among other projects, Andrew Schlafly founded a conservative alternative to Wikipedia, to correct its “liberal bias” on things like evolution.

Fringe beliefs aren’t new. Stupidity isn’t new (although I doubt we’ve ever had a President as monumentally stupid as Trump, who recently responded to a question about per capita comparisons with Germany and Japan by saying “You know, when you say ‘per capita’ there’s many per capitas. It’s, like, per capita relative to what? But you can look at just about any category, and we’re really at the top, meaning positive on a per-capita basis too.”)

What is new is the Internet and especially social media. What is new is the chutzpah of a President complaining that fact-checking his obvious lie on Twitter somehow deprives him of “free speech.” What is new is our ability to occupy information bubbles of our own choosing–bubbles that reinforce our bigotries and reassure us that Q is real and the pointy-headed intellectuals who trust science are part of the “deep state.”

What is new–and most definitely not improved– is the devolution of an entire political party into an adolescent, anti-science, anti-evidence, anti-fact cult of quackery.