Should we be concerned about the QAnon conspiracy theory?

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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Let’s talk about QAnon. What does this fringe conspiracy theory that’s attempting to break into the mainstream have in common with Nazi propaganda, Pixar’s Monsters Inc., a Hezbollah television show, and HAMAS? Probably more than you’d think. How did this conspiracy go viral, hijack an anti-human trafficking movement, and work its way into the rhetoric of American politicians, including the President of the United States?

What is QAnon?

To understand the origins of QAnon, it is necessary to recall the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which has since been absorbed into QAnon. This conspiracy, heavily propagated during the 2016 election cycle, alleged that code words and satanic symbols are visible throughout our society, and that they all point to an underground Washington, DC pedophile ring involving former Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. This belief was the inspiration for Edgar Welch, a former firefighter from North Carolina, to drive to Washington to rescue mythical sexually-abused children who were in hidden tunnels beneath the pizza restaurant, Comet Ping Pong. Welch showed up at the restaurant with an assault-style rifle and, after searching the building, found nothing related to Hillary Clinton or any activity of a child sex ring – only terrified patrons and pizza. “Pizzagate” paved the way for the spread of QAnon.

The QAnon conspiracy, in essence, says that the world is being taken over by a secret cabal of Satan-worshippers who kidnap white children, keep them imprisoned in compounds run by pedophiles, slaughter the children, and eat them to gain power from their blood. This group allegedly includes Pope Francis, numerous Hollywood stars, the Clintons, and the Obamas, among others. And, the 2016 election was the last “close call” this group had of holding the office of President of the United States with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

According to QAnon, the “Deep State” is financed by “the Jews” (notably George Soros, a Hungarian-American Jewish billionaire investor and philanthropist), and they control the media. The “Deep State” wants to disarm citizens and defund the police, as well as promote LGBTQ rights and open the borders so that immigrants can invade America and “taint” the white race. QAnon believes Donald Trump was selected by military generals to save America from the satanic cabal and eventually, supporters of the satanic cabal will be executed en masse.

QAnon began around 2017 with some anonymous posts on the internet forum 4chan claiming it was here to expose top Democrats who had committed heinous crimes. The source was an anonymous insider in the United States government named “Q,” thus QAnon was born. QAnon believes the secret cabal is torturing children for their adrenochrome, which really isn’t all that exciting as it is widely used as a blood-clotting agent in medicine and is easily produced in a lab. In the QAnon conspiracy, however, adrenochrome is supposedly a psychedelic drug favored by the global elites for their drug-fueled satanic rites and is harvested by torturing children. This is oddly reminiscent of the Disney Pixar movie, Monsters, Inc. (in which monsters collect human fear and convert it to usable power). This comparison has not gone amiss with QAnon. “QAnon also likes to say that Monsters, Inc. is Hollywood telling on itself,” according to QAnon researcher, Mike Rains. The conspiracy is also eerily similar to Hunter S. Thompson’s book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in which adrenochrome was a fictitious recreational drug.

In 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai was questioned by the House Judiciary Committee about the “Frazzledrip” conspiracy. This theory alleged there was a video on Anthony Weiner’s laptop showing Hillary Clinton and her former aide performing a satanic sacrifice involving drinking the blood of a child while wearing the child’s face. It was supposed to depict the harvesting of adrenochrome. The video was never found. Recent adrenochrome theories have surfaced in QAnon spaces alleging the reason elites are contracting coronavirus is because their adrenochrome supply has been tainted.

Recently, the hashtag #SaveTheChildren has seen an increase in use. This hashtag initially appears to be spreading awareness about human trafficking, but it is widely being used to propagate the QAnon conspiracy. This is their new outreach strategy: piggybacking on the anti-human-trafficking movement. #SaveTheChildren was once a legitimate fund-raising campaign for the Save The Children charity but has since turned into a flood of QAnon-hijacked posts on social media platforms that use the movement as a psychological gateway drug to recruit people who would not be as open to QAnon in its more undiluted form.

The viral “Plandemic” video released during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic was fueled by QAnon groups and claimed that a group of elites was using the pandemic to gain power and money and that the vaccine was another way they would profit. A week after “Plandemic” was released, it had already been viewed over eight million times on various social media platforms.

Sound familiar? That’s because it is.

Remember the Middle Ages? The QAnon conspiracy is a newer adaptation of the centuries-old conspiracy theory of Medieval blood libels, once used to justify violence against the Jewish people. The “blood libel” alleged that Jews murder Christians, and Christian children in particular, to use their blood for ritual purposes. It must be noted that the Hebrew Bible forbids the consumption of blood, and when an animal is considered kosher, all of its blood has been drained and thrown out. Medieval anti-semites also blamed Jews for the spread of the Black Death.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1934_Protocols_Patriotic_Pub.jpg
A 1934 imprint by the so-called “Patriotic Publishing Co.” In 1934 Nazis were operating in the USA and the 299-page text and its cover might be one of their propaganda products. The author and publisher do not exist. (Cover image by Humus sapiens [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons)
At this point, if you are thinking, “Gosh, this all sounds a lot like Nazi propaganda!” you would be correct! Just as the Nazi movement took Medieval blood libels and adapted them to their narrative, QAnon has taken Nazi propaganda and rebranded it to fit their narrative.

The Protocols (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion) were used to justify anti-semitism in Hitler’s Germany, with the narrative centered around the belief that a “secret plot” was the reason for Germany’s economic troubles during the1920s. Followers of this movement also somewhat blamed the Jewish people for the 1918 flu pandemic. Hitler used the spread of ideas from The Protocols to pass anti-Semitic laws, starting small with boycotts, and ultimately ending in genocide.

Modern anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are sadly quite common. QAnon is another iteration in a long line of Protocols copycat conspiracies. In 2002, a miniseries titled “Horseman without a Horse” based on The Protocols aired in Egypt, and just a year later on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV. Additionally, this document boasts the inspiration for the Syrian government’s doctrines in the “Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement” (HAMAS). A fan favorite of the modern-day Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations, it raises concern that the QAnon conspiracies are an attempt at making these hateful ideas more palatable for the American people to digest, much like The Protocols did in 1920s Germany.

I hope that one day there will come a time when no one will any longer comprehend how in the year 1935 almost a dozen fully sensible and reasonable men could for fourteen days torment their brains before a court of Berne over the authenticity or lack of authenticity of these so-called Protocols … that, for all the harm they have already caused and may yet cause, are nothing but ridiculous nonsense.

(Words spoken by a Swiss judge presiding over
a trial of two Swiss National Socialists
charged with circulation of The Protocols in 1935.)

Who actually believes this?

According to a Daily Kos/Civiqs poll, 56% of Republicans believe that QAnon is mostly or partly true. One in three Republicans (33%) say they believe the conspiracy about the deep-state elites is “mostly true” and 23% say “some parts are true.” Only 4% of

56% of Republicans believe that QAnon is mostly or partly true.

Democrats think the theory is partially true, and 72% of Democrats responded that the conspiracy is “not true at all.” The poll surveyed 1,368 adults in the United States starting on August 29th, 2020, and ended on September 1st, 2020. Regardless of the conspiracy’s awareness in the forefront of American minds, QAnon support among congressional candidates on the November ballot cannot be ignored.

Could there be a new QAnon caucus in congress? Let’s look at the numbers: at least 81 current or former congressional candidates have supported the conspiracy theory or promoted QAnon content, with 24 qualifying for November’s general election ballot. (Link to complete list of QAnon supporting candidates here. Note that Kentucky candidate C. Wesley Morgan, who lost in the primary, is one of those listed.)

Unopposed Georgia congressional candidate, Marjorie Taylor Greene, has been peddling QAnon talking points, repeatedly calling Soros an “enemy of the people” in addition to accusing Soros and the Rothschild family (a prominent wealthy Jewish family originally from Frankfurt, Germany) of being involved in an organization of Democratic pedophiles. And, according to an Associated Press review of the campaign finance records of Rep. Susan Lynn of Tennessee, a QAnon-promoting politician, Walmart, Amazon, and Kentucky distillery Brown-Forman have made donations to Lynn’s campaign. When questioned about the support of a QAnon-supporting politician, Walmart would not respond, Amazon declined to comment, and Brown-Forman claimed it was unaware Lynn was a QAnon supporter and would not have donated had it known.

The President of the United States seems to be doing little to curb these conspiracies, and they have spread throughout his base. Supporters of the conspiracy have been reported at Trump rallies holding up signs supporting QAnon and wearing QAnon shirts. When Trump was asked about the QAnon supporters during a White House news conference concerning the coronavirus, he responded “I’ve heard these are people that love our country, so I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.” Even after he was told by a reporter about the central premises of the QAnon theory, President Trump never questioned the validity.

When he was asked if he could support that theory, he responded “Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? … If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.”

The conspiracy has also spread from America to other countries. On August 29th, 2020, a group of German QAnon followers stormed the country’s parliament, some holding Trump signs and banners.

NBC news reported that an internal investigation by Facebook had found that QAnon has millions of followers and the Wall Street Journal reported the Facebook groups related to QAnon had grown 600% since the beginning of lockdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic. YouTube regularly takes down QAnon content, and Facebook has made increasing efforts to take down QAnon content and groups and pages.

Is this cause for concern?

Genocide Watch and the Alliance Against Genocide both view the spread of these hate-filled ideas and conspiracies as early warning signs of genocidal violence. The FBI intelligence bulletin from the Phoenix office published on May 30th, 2019, warns that “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” are a growing threat, and also notes that it is the first one to do so. It makes the prediction that these conspiracy-driven extremists will likely increase in number during the 2020 election cycle. QAnon is specifically mentioned in this document as being among these groups.

The document goes on to say “The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts.”

So far, there have been several acts of violence committed by QAnon supporters. There has been a murder in New York, a train hijacking, an episode in Arizona in which a historic Catholic chapel was damaged with a crowbar, an incident in Canada wherein a car was rammed into a government residence, and an armed confrontation with police near the Hoover Dam. In May, a QAnon follower was arrested in New York for saying she wanted to “take out” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and dozens of knives were found in her car.

Looking back in history, this is nothing but repetition. The beginning of the blood libel conspiracy took its shape in economic turmoil and spread during a plague. Likewise, The Protocols spread across Germany in a time of economic hardship and the 1918 flu pandemic.

 These parallels cannot be ignored as we watch the dangerous QAnon conspiracy spread amid the coronavirus pandemic promoting anti-vaccination, defiance of coronavirus safety measures, and spreading the belief that the virus is part of a conspiracy of control. History is repeating itself once again, and without the relentless pursuit of the truth, we could face dire consequences.

–30–

Written by Ariana Velasquez

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