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What is This ‘QAnon’ Thing They’re Talking About?


CALBUZZ-Recent focus on the deranged views voiced by U.S. Rep Marjorie Taylor (Marge) Greene has elevated “QAnon” to a household word.

Attempting to understand precisely what “QAnon” is, however, represents a slippery and elusive task, because this shadowy, nut-case umbrella term has no universally accepted description.

The best nuts and bolts description, in a grueling Calbuzz internets investigation, comes from the global crowd source scholars of Wikipedia, who write in part:

QAnon[a] (/ˌkjuːəˈnɒn/) is a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory[1] alleging that a secret cabal of Satan-worshippingcannibalistic[2][3][4] pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotted against former U.S. president Donald Trump while he was in office.[5] According to U.S. prosecutors, QAnon is commonly called a cult.[6]  

… the conspiracy theory began with an October 2017 post on the anonymous imageboard 4chan by “Q” (or “QAnon”), who was presumably an American individual;[22] it is now more likely that “Q” has become a group of people acting under the same name.[23][24] 

stylometric analysis of Q posts claims to have uncovered that at least two people wrote as “Q” in different periods.[25][26] Q claimed to be a high-level government official with Q clearance, who has access to classified information involving the Trump administration and its opponents in the United States.[27] 

Fair enough, but that’s a lot to process, and yet barely scratches the surface in terms of the wakadoodle ideas that QAnon adherents believe to be true. Consider just one of those ideas – known as, um, “Frazzledrip” — as outlined by Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times:

The lurid fantasy of Frazzledrip refers to an imaginary video said to show Hillary Clinton and her former aide, Huma Abedin, assaulting and disfiguring a young girl and drinking her blood. It holds that several cops saw the video and Clinton had them killed.

Because: of course.

Digging deeper. Here are several other descriptions that a variety of credible writers have employed in bids to wrestle the nature, scope and meaning of QAnon to the ground:

— At its heart, QAnon is a wide-ranging, completely unfounded theory that says that President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping pedophiles in government, business and the media:  QAnon: What is it and where did it come from? – BBC News — Mike Wendling

— Named after “Q,” who posts anonymously on the online bulletin board 4chan, QAnon alleges that President Donald Trump and military officials are working to expose a “deep state” pedophile ring with links to Hollywood, the media and the Democratic Party: QAnon: The alternative religion that’s coming to your church (religionnews.com) — Katelyn Beaty

— baseless belief an anonymous person called Q was revealing secrets about a child trafficking ring orchestrated by Democrats and global elites: (“Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, QAnon conspiracy promoter, rose with support from key Republicans,  The Washington Post — Michael Kranish, Reis Thebault and Sephanie McCrummen

— a wild conspiracy theory that alleges a massive global pedophile cabal: (“ Tucker Carlson stands up for QAnon supporters,”  The Washington Post — Aaron Blake

— QAnon is the umbrella term for a set of internet conspiracy theories that allege, falsely, that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles:” What Is QAnon, the Viral Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theory? “- The New York Times (nytimes.com) — Kevin Roose

Key, but mostly unspoken, point: QAnon is not an organization, like the Republican Party, the John Birch Society, Students for Democratic Society, the Catholic Church or the Black Panther Party, or others which the MSM has described at various times as “extremist.”

Rather, it’s an uncertain, inconstant and shifting collection of conspiracy theories: One doesn’t “belong” to QAnon. There’s no sign-up sheet, list of members, leadership structure or regular meetings.

Saying someone associates with QAnon is like saying someone associates with pantheism:  the belief that reality is identical with divinity,[1] or that all-things compose an all-encompassing, immanent god.[2].

Delusion goes mainstream. To be sure, there always have been tinfoil-hat and survivalist weirdos who believe Elvis is still alive, the Moon landing was faked or that the Holocaust never happened. But inevitably they were fringe people, widely regarded as delusional, out-of-the-mainstream wackos to whom nobody paid much attention.

Now, however, significant portions of the Republican Party have defended and spread ideas common among QAnon theorists – like the belief that the Clintons and George Soros killed JFK or that the Sandy Hill School shootings were a “false flag” operation by anti-Second Amendment haters.

Or as Marge Greene – who holds a seat in the United States House of Representatives (and let that sink in) –famously retweeted, that Jewish space lasers set off the wildfires in California. Because: of course

In short, delusion has gone mainstream, the culmination of the “Death of Truth” trend in politics and culture of which we are among the first to write more than a decade ago.

Of course, the Delusionist in Chief, Donald Trump, played a pivotal role in spreading ideas like this and others, including denial of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election or that Hydroxychloroquine prevents Coronavirus.

When the Commander in Chief, the Leader of the Free World – the elected president of the United States – holds, spreads and spins an entire alternative reality, the effect is like aggressive cancer consuming the country.

The bottom-line change. For decades, crazy thinking, virulent racism, corrosive xenophobia and crushing misogynism all were part of the American political landscape. But all the flying monkeys, biting insects and snarling monsters were tamped down and stuffed into a box by mainstream politics, media and social decency.

Then along came Donald Trump, who not only unlocked forever our American Pandora’s Box, but who endorsed, cheered and promoted virtually every one of the most dangerous and disgusting creatures and ideas that common sense had marginalized.

Now QAnon has become the unified theory of all the false and slanderous conspiracy stories. Which – at least for the moment –– is being debunked, repudiated and de-legitimatized under the Biden-Harris administration.

That crazy uncle has been sent back to the basement. Whether or not he stays there is an open question.

(Jerry Roberts is a California journalist who writes, blogs and hosts a TV talk show about politics, policy and media. Phil Trounstine is the former political editor of the San Jose Mercury News, former communications director for California Gov. Gray Davis and was the founder and director of the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San Jose State University. This piece appeared originally in CalBuzz.)



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