QAnon's mythos is so sprawling that perhaps its biggest unifying trait is a sense that something about life is wrong, and rather than engage in even a modicum of reflection on themselves or their culture, believers choose to scream, threaten, and occasionally shoot their way out of it. Greene walked back her most outlandish claims the moment she became a viable candidate, because obviously she doesn't really believe the things she spent years saying she believed. Now she's "only" saying that anyone opposed to Trump supports a Chinese takeover of America.
QAnon, of course, has lots to say about China. It's all fungible, just so long as there's always, always an ominous, mysterious other to blame all of your real or imagined ills on -- a shadowy, malicious them. And let's be honest, this kind of rhetoric is nothing new. Seriously, did high schools stop making students read Animal Farm or something?
Conspiracy Theories Like QAnon Are Cosplay To Distract From Real-World Problems
Conspiracy theories thrive amid institutional failure, because if you can't have the life you were promised you can claw back a modicum of control by reframing yourself as a hero struggling against a greater evil. And which of these narratives is more likely to imbue the average citizen with a sense of purpose and agency?
A) a sinister cabal of pencil mustache/white cargo van enthusiasts is secretly destroying America and only the rich brash guy who has been on TV for 40 years knows how to stop them; or ...
B) the United States is currently in the midst of a disorganized/indifferent/actively unhelpful executive response to a once-in-a-century pandemic that is killing 3,000+ Americans a day and leaving millions unemployed and in poverty and so many Americans didn't need to die from this and ... well, you get the idea.
And look, the idea of a deep state isn't revolutionary -- parts of QAnon crib from an anti-Semitic conspiracy that dates back to Czarist Russia -- it's just grown bigger and crazier during bigger and crazier years. But the thing about predicting that Donald Trump would arrest thousands of corrupt pedophiles is that he eventually had to, you know, do that. When it never happens, you can either quietly slink away, or you can make Judgment Day come to you. Some of the crimes above were committed by people frustrated that Trump's Great Reckoning hadn't been unleashed. It's terrorism fueled by conspiracy theorist blue balls.
So yeah, that's how you can have a cruise ship speaker described as "perhaps most notable for diving into the Satanic Pedophile Network that has been the true Hidden Enemy" on the same website that's extolling the benefits of a Caribbean day excursion. Sure, it's self-evident that participants are among the most oppressed people in human history, but that's no excuse not to have a little fun in the sun, right? But when you have people who will say anything to further their victim roleplay, understand that some people who listen to them have far less to lose. Remember that the next time someone calls QAnon wacky.
Mark is on Twitter and wrote a book.
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