One of the problems with politics these days is how it has become way too tribal. And while it is a problem with those on the left (just look at how Corbyn supporters seem determined to stick it to Starmer, even if it helps the Tories), but it is a much more serious problem for those on the political right. So much so, that many on the right now live in a fantasy bubble of self delusion.
So I think its important to debunk some of these right wing myths, in particular the more dangerous ones. And I’m going to start with Qanon, which is now more of a cargo cult, if not a fully fledged religion (ironically, many of its supporters claim to be Christians…they might need to re-read the bible…starting with the 1st commandment….something about the dangers of false gods and
Anyway, Qanon supporters believe that an individual posting on the internet was some sort of anonymous high level source in the Trump administration, who was leaving clues about how Hilary and all the democrats were about to be rounded up by Trump and it proven they and the elites are part of some big weird conspiracy that involves…well really take your pick! Whatever you want to accuse them of, Qanon says they are guilty of it. But mostly in revolves around child abduction for their blood or sex trafficking.
Straight away, one has to point to the obvious similarities between this Qanon conspiracy and anti-Semitic conspiracies, such as the protocols of Zion and the Blood libel, that were levelled at Jews over many centuries (which eventually led to the holocaust). I mean literally take out the word “Hilary” or “elites” and stick in the word “Jew” and its pretty much the same thing, with a few modern updates.
It also has to be pointed out that modern neo-nazi’s often talk in code, or use coded gestures and symbols. So for example “inner city youths” means, well the N word. Three fingers together means KKK, an ok symbol means much the same. And the term “globalist” or “elites” generally means “Jew”. So at its heart Qanon represents the very worse form of racism and bigotry. And before anyone says, oh but I believe in Qanon but I also support Israel. You can still be a racist/anti-Semitic and support Israel (or be critical of Israeli foreign policy and not a racist). And there also such a thing as internalised racism, so even being Jewish doesn’t give you a free pass.
This can’t be co-incidental. Well not unless those supporting Qanon are going to admit to being completely boneheaded and ignorant. I mean you can vaguely understand how such ridiculous rumours might spread in less enlightened times (a lot of people back then couldn’t even read and knew little about things like medicine or the wider world), but not today.
For example, this business of child abductions. I don’t know about you, but its been my experience that parents seem more than a little attached to their kids. They go missing, the parents tend to make a big deal about it. And the reaction from the media is to lose their sh*t if a kid so much as goes missing for a few minutes. The cops will throw up road blocks and start organising house to house searches. You seriously think anybody could get away with pulling off thousands of these without anyone noticing?
As for this blood libel business, again with the benefits of modern science we know this is just crazy. The blood of children is not some magic elixir (do right wingers actually believe that? Cos I’m pretty sure that’s grounds to call child services and take their kids into care). I don’t know a lot about medicine but I do know enough to develop a healthy paranoia about blood, as its a very potent disease vector (this is why blood donations & transfusions are carefully regulated and incidentally one of those rules is that you can’t give blood if you are under 16). And we’re not just talking about a dose of covid here, we’re talking about some pretty nasty diseases or adverse medical reactions. Some of which there is no real cure for. So I very much doubt anyone would be doing this.
But of course accusing your opponents of child related crimes is the stickiest of mud to sling at them. In times gone by politicians would intervene if false allegations were slung at their opponents (recall how John McCain defended Obama against all the crazy birther crap being slung at him). Now republicans will not only stand by while baseless allegations of child abuse and murder are slung at their opponents. But they’ll actively fuel the fire. That is how low they have sunk too. Which I would argue should instantly disqualify them from anything to do with government.
But circling back for a minute, where did these Qanon rumours start off? Well it started off in the form of so-called “Q drops” on a site called 8chan (a site for internet trolls who were too racist for 4chan). Of course this of itself looks dodgy. I mean why not go to a major newspaper or wikileaks? Probably because they are going to demand hard evidence rather than cryptic clues.
If real journalists are presented with a large data drop, such as the recent Panama papers for example, they will want to verify those documents (to make sure they aren’t simply an elaborate forgery) by going over them with a fine toothed comb. They will check if they are credible and in some way verifiable. For example via information already in the public domain, or through a verifiable source who can corroborate the evidence. Now contrast that with the lazy unsubstantiated rumours coming from 8chan, put up there by god knows who (we’ll get to that), with nothing of substance that can be independently verified. And lazy research that consists of a few heavily biased internet searches.
Where and how you acquire your information from is as important as the information itself. For example imagine you heard that aliens have landed on the White house lawn. Would you believe it? Suppose if you heard it from an official white house source? Or a reputable news source? How about if you heard it from the Daily Mail? (who would likely claim the aliens are only here to claim benefits). Or how about some tinfoil hat wearing nutter at speakers corner? Qanon fails any sort of verification or credibility checks by some margin.
So what is the history behind Q? Well back in the early phases of the 2016 election there were a number of democrat and independent voters who amused themselves by putting together ridiculously outlandish stories as a way to bait a reaction out of republicans, or for commercial reasons (to generate click bait allowing them to harvest people’s personal details). Unfortunately, some right wingers didn’t get the joke, perhaps proving Poe’s law. Which, if you enough about the psychology of the right wing brain, does makes sense (right wingers tend to see things in the form of black and white choices, plus they are more heavily motivated by fear than facts). This led to incidents such as Pizzagate.
Inevitably some of those shilling for trump, including Cambridge Analytica (or pro-Trump Russian trolls), saw an opportunity they could take advantage of. If you were a pro-gun libertarian (but perhaps wary of trump due to his lose talk about running up massive deficits), they’d make sure you’re facebook feed would be clogged with fake news about how Hilary was going to take your guns the day after the election. If you were with the Bernie or bust brigade, they’d feed you stories about how the DNC were stitching up Bernie (hoping that while you won’t vote Trump, you might vote for a 3rd party).
So there’s a good chance Q is either some left winger with a terrible sense of humour, who is currently laughing his/her ass off at all these nutters. Or its probably some far right propagandist looking to radicalise republicans to suit their own agenda. In fact, one name that keeps popping up, just happens to be a moderator on 8chan, the very site where the whole thing started.
And if this sounds far fetched, well the thing is, this has happened before. Back in the 1970’s a bunch of counter-culture hippies, as part of an effort to undermine the US government (why? Nam…. and probably too much LSD!), decided to start spreading a conspiracy theory that said the US government was secretly controlled by a group called the Illuminati, who were hell bent on world domination on behalf of the world elites. They called it “operation mindf*ck” and it was largely successful, as many millions came to believe it.
But here’s the thing, those behind this conspiracy have confirmed it was a hoax, yet you’ll still find websites devoted to this conspiracy to this day (and of course Qanon includes elements of the Illuminati hoax). In fact, you may wonder who were the Illuminati? Well they were a Bavarian 18th century Freethinkers club (imagine a bunch of Germans in Tracht discussing philosophy while smoking outrageously large pipes) This was a deliberate safety valve, as they knew that if any serious journalist went digging, they quickly realise it had to be a hoax, as this group no longer exists. And they’d be the last people on earth you’d suspect of being part of a giant nefarious conspiracy. Yet, millions did fall for it and many Q supporters still fall for it. Such is the power of myth.
Of course the irony is that there are government conspiracies and lies we should be worried about. The UK government for example is openly gaslighting the public about both Covid and brexit, even thought this risks reigniting the troubles in northern Ireland. And they’ve succeeded in turning the UK into a Chumacracy. In the US as well, its a known fact that politicians, both sides of the aisle, are very close to big business. And, somewhat ironically, several leading republicans and prominent Q supporters have been caught up in child sex trafficking cases. But rather than be worried about these actual conspiracies, no right wingers prefer to obsess about a fake one.
Which brings me back to the question, are Q supporters really this stupid or really that racist? Well its a bit of both. I suspect most know deep down, its all lies (not that they’ll ever admit that!). But its a convenient lie to hide an inconvenient truth (much like climate change denial). The truth being that they’ve been conned their whole lives by those they held up as heroes. And their ego just can’t take that hit. Its similar to the reaction you get from those who get scammed (which is why such thing’s as sucker lists exist, as the scammers know that someone who fell for one con, will likely fall for another one). So this is sort of a coping mechanism to masking this reality, as well as giving them a way to focus their rage on their opponents. Its completely tribal.
And those on the far right recognise Q as an important step towards fascism. For fascism to work you have to have someone to blame for all of your problems (that’s sort of the whole point of fascism, blame all of your problems on some convenient scapegoat). You also have to believe the nation is in dire straits, facing a real (or more often) imaginary enemy. After all, how else can you justify the confiscation of private property, ending democracy and mass murder (which is always going to be the outcome with fascism). That btw is the real plan Q supporters are being asked to stick too.
Which is why I’d argue this is not just some harmless conspiracy theory. A number of anti-terrorism experts have pointed to similarities between how Qanon has radicalised its followers and how Islamic extremist groups radicalise supporters into becoming terrorists (and btw some of those anti-Semitic lies mentioned earlier are used as part of that indoctrination process, I won’t be the least be surprised if they are now also using Qanon material as well). Far more terrorist attacks have been carried out in the US recently by rightwing groups (or Q terrorists) than have been carried out by Islamists or anyone else for that matter.
So Qanon is literally a sign of creeping fascism. Regardless of what its supporters say, its claims are baseless and indefensible. Its racism and radicalisation at its very worse. It has been linked to several terrorist attacks. And ironically, its giving right wing elites cover to engage in the very things they accuse those on the left of. We’d do well not to ignore it.