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  • Writer's picturemindofaskepticalle

Qanon Explainer

It’s probably the most popular conspiracy that currently exists and the number of believers are growing every single day. It’s a revamping of some old antisemitism mixed in with some new ideas and a fancy new saviour figure. That’s right, it’s Qanon. I’m going to cover this a little bit but if you want consistent and always updated Qanon-related content then check out the podcast Qanon Anonymous and you’ll get to hear the wild stuff going on in Q circles every week.

Qanon is a far-right conspiracy that claims that a satan worshiping pedophile ring is running a worldwide child trafficking operation and that Donald Trump is working hard behind the scenes to shut them down and expose them. Within the, let’s call it lore, of the Qanon conspiracy, is a day known as The Storm, which is the day that Trump plans to arrest thousands of members of this pedophile ring.

There’s more but I think we’ll get to the rest in a minute. First I want to talk about where Q started. Qanon started off as a series of posts on the 4chan board /pol/ by someone who simply called themselves Q. Q is a high-level of security clearance within the US government and so the person known as Q is supposedly an individual who has access to the most secret information that exists within US intelligence. Although in reality the Q clearance is strictly used in the department of energy and wouldn’t have any real access to secret intelligence.

In August of 2018, NBC News reported that the original Q thread was spread on bigger sites like Youtube, Reddit, and Facebook by 3 people. Which led to the existence of the larger Q community. Before Qanon there were other posters who claimed to have special access to government information. In 2016 there was FBI anon, then HLI anon, then CIA anon, and CIA intern, and finally WH insider Anon. None of these took off the way that Q anon did and it seems that can be traced to the actions of 2 moderators of the 4chan board who reached out to YouTuber Tracy Diaz. The 3 of them contacted YouTubers who had commented on the 4chan threads. Diaz was mildly popular because of her spreading of the Pizzagate conspiracy. Which apparently didn’t fall apart once it was a hundred percent debunked but instead fed more conspiracies. Diaz posted a video on November 3rd, 2017 just 5 days after the first q drop and by august of 2018 it had reached 250 thousand views. I’ll provide a link to the NBC news article because it’s quite interesting as a matter of course how they built an audience for the Qanon conspiracy as a means of making money and it got much bigger than they could have thought.

Q posts drops which are called crumbs onto 4chan in order to inform the public about Trump’s master plan to take down the deep state. Since their first appearance in 2017 Q has posted many times with various predictions or claims. Of course, none of them ever had any basis in fact and the predictions were never accurate, although that just seemed to make them more popular among Q believers. They found and still continue to find ways to interpret these predictions and claims in ways that will support the way they view the world.

So, what exactly does Qanon believe? That becomes a little bit convoluted once you start looking into it but to get going you have to accept that Q is a high level insider in the US government and that they support Donald Trump. Then we can get into some of the claims and beliefs.

Among their first posts were predictions that Hilary Clinton was on the verge of being arrested for a variety of crimes. This of course never came to pass. Q also claimed that the CIA installed Kim Jong Un as leader of North Korea, that Angela Merkel was Hitler’s granddaughter, and that Debbie Wasserman Schultz hired MS-13 to kill Seth Rich.

Q drops are often total nonsense but somehow believers ascribe meaning to them and will contend that the post are actually in some kind of code that one just needs to figure out to find the meaning behind. This makes me think of things like the Nostrodamus code and people who think they can find true predictions in the ramblings of Nostrodamus despite no such code or predictions actually being in the texts.

The core of the Qanon beliefs revolve around a coup against Donald Trump by Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, George Soros and pretty much anyone else they can fit into their narrative. If you don’t like Trump then you’re part of the deep state. Qanon believes that these members of the coup are also involved in sex traffiking of children and the Mueller investigation was actually a counter coup led by Trump. There’s a mix of antisemitic conspiracy theories in there as well. They believe that Hollywood celebrities are part of the pedophile ring and that they are sacrificing children to satan led by the Rothschilds. They also contend that celebrities and politicians are drinking the blood of children or eating children for the drug adrenochrome which is apparently produced when someone is scared and will help keep them young. This bears a striking resemblence to the antisemitic myth of blood libel that dates back to the middle ages and claimed that jewish people would murder christian children to use their blood in religious rituals. One scholar, Gregory Stanton called Qanon a Nazi group rebranded and said that it’s theories are a rebranded version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

This has led to the use of the hashtag #savethechildren which they use to draw in non-q people by claiming that it’s a campaign against pedophilia and child trafficking and then when you agree with them you start getting hit with more and more in depth Qanon content. In many Qanon videos they make the claim that 800 thousand children go missing in the United states every year. Though they tend to ignore the statistics that say most of those children are found or are with a noncustodial parent when they are reported missing. A number of those children are also considered known runaways which while certainly isn’t a good thing, is not part of a satanic cabal sacrificing children for adrenochrome.

There is, of course, plenty of talk of antifa, marxists, and black lives matter among Qanoners because they’ve taken to mixing the regular right wing propaganda with their Q conspiracy beliefs and making much of them interchangeable with regular culture war nonsense. If you listen to audio or watch videos of their rallies you will often hear people yelling about the racist blm protests or claiming that Joe Biden is a marxist satan worshiper pedophile. As with any good conspiracy they can and will combine every single thing that they’re afraid of into their beliefs.

There also seems to be a narrative among Q believers that if a claim of prediction turns out to be false then it is because, “disinformation is necessary” . This makes the entire set of beliefs that Qanon adheres to impervious to reason or rational analysis.

The slogan Where we go one we go all has been adopted by the believers in the Q conspiracy. They usually attach it as the hashtag #WWG1WGA to tweets, Instagram posts, or to anything they want other Q believers to see. I can’t really find anything on the original connection between the slogan and Q believers but it is used regularly and if you look it up online you will undoubtedly find many Q related posts.

Nobody seems to know who Q actually is and there is a lot of speculation one way of the other. According to one Buzzfeed article from 2018 some people even think that it’s all a big joke being played on the right. At this point I’m not sure it matters a whole lot. The Q anon phenomenon has taken on a whole new life and a level way beyond whatever the originators thought it would. I suspect that it isn’t a prank but is a grift of some kind that got out of hand. The thing that gets me the most about Qanon is how most of these folks seem to be true believers despite the absolutely incoherent nature of the beliefs.

There are some reasons to think that Q has been the same person or group of people like the use of something they call tripcodes on 4chan and 8chan as well as the posting of a picture with some of the posts that points to a continuity of identity. There have been known cases of people cracking the password for Q and posting under the name but not having a real tie to the original Q so it’s entirely possible that any number of Q posts are not from the original Q. The nature of sites like 4chan and 8chan make confirming these things incredibly difficult.

There are a scary number of politicians running for republican nominations or seats who are connected in some way to Qanon and while Q is still a small number of people there are significant numbers who think that Q and the Qanon believers are good for America. Most of those are republicans which seems obvious but the idea that some people who identify as democrats believe that qanon is good for their country seems very concerning.

Something that seems to need mention is a recent situation where Chrissy Teigen and John Legend lost their child due to complications with her pregnancy and were bombarded with hateful comments and messages from Qanon believers. Ms. Teigen posted a picture on Instagram that showed her in tears. Qanoners believe that she either was faking the pregnancy or that she and her husband sacrificed their newborn child to the pedohile cult that they’re a part of. How Teigen and Legend became mixed up in all of this can be traced to public disagreements and arguments that Teigen has had with Donald Trump. One doesn’t have to actually be part of any conspiracy to be called a pedophile or child sex trafficker, one merely needs to not be part of the Qanon cult.

Why do people join a group like Qanon? I’m not going to use much in the way of references for this because it seems like mostly speculation no matter where you look. From my perspective there are a number of reasons why a person might accept a belief system like Qanon. We all know that the world is kind of fucked. We all feel alienation and stress about all the news we see all the time. It’s particularly bad for people who are already inside the Fox News and One America News world of immigrant hoards coming to take over America and Anti Fascists who want to burn down their houses. I know that this isn’t the same perspective as a lot of people but I think this alienation is pretty clearly a product of capitalism and a lack of control over our day to day lives. This combined with the scary things that people see on the news and the even scarier things that right wing media pushes can make people believe almost anything. We all know people who actually believe that Joe Biden is a Marxist who wants a green new deal, to defund the police, and to give free healthcare to everyone. Despite how awesome that would be, it’s not true and not only do they believe this untrue thing they also fully believe in the strawman version of these things that the far right has been pushing.

So in a world that’s scary and alienating everyone wants to feel special. Believing in Q means you know the truth. It means you’re on the inside and know things that nobody else knows. It makes you feel like you’re part of the solution and can fix all the things wrong with the world. The idea that the Q drops are in a code that you and those who agree with you can figure out makes you feel special. It’s all a coping mechanism to deal with capitalist alienation and a media ecosphere that makes them feel scared all the time. This gives them a level of control that they don’t have in their regular lives.

Which leads me to the question about how to deal with them. Some say that cutting off the stream of information is where you have to start. Recently Facebook shut down a lot of pages and groups that were related to Qanon. It seems like too little too late but we all know that Facebook tries not to take down the pages and groups with the most engagement because that means more ad revenue. Still they’re doing it now and more and more people are pushing forward fact based information that debunks or disagrees with Qanon. More Q predictions and claims are being falsified every day and short of taking people into deprogramming camps I think these are the best tools we have at our disposal. Cut off their youtube channels, shut down their facebook groups, shut down their twitter accounts. They’ll try to go other places but the number of believers will go down. A lot of people are only believers because they see the posts on Instagram or Facebook and without that constant stream of confirmation they’ll be able to see it in a slightly differently light after a bit of time.

Links used within the article

Extra links

What Is QAnon, the Viral Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory?

A Way to Fight Back against ‘Qanon’ and other Dangerous Disinformation

Qanon is an Enormous Alternate Reality Game (ARG) Run by Malevolent Puppetmasters

YouTube bans QAnon, other conspiracy content that targets individuals

#politics #ChrissyTiegen #Trump #hollywood #WWG1WWA #deepstate #saveourchildren #cults #skepticism #conspiracytheories #Qanon #America #pedophiles

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