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QAnon: Paranoid Trumpers on Steroids


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Cartmann99

The short version on this conspiracy, is that some Trump supporters believe there is a person in the Trump administration feeding them classified information, and this person is called Q. The individual known as Q communicates to his or her followers through cryptic messages and riddles that the QAnon people must decode in order to receive the intended message. All sorts of conspiracy theories get blended together, but all you really need to know is that Donald Trump is a heroic figure who spends his time rounding up bad people like pedophiles and rapists to keep the world safe, and keeping one step ahead of his enemies in the "Deep State". One day soon, Hillary Clinton and other high-ranking Democrats will be arrested and imprisoned for their crimes. :cray-cray:

Will Sommer is a good person to follow on Twitter if you are interested in learning about the QAnon folks and their various delusions and acronyms.

 

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Cartmann99

 

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The current agenda page for the American Priority Conference lists as one of its “conference topics” the “QAnon” conspiracy theory, which surmises that President Donald Trump has ordered someone (or a group of people) with top-level federal security clearance to gradually reveal a secret collaboration between Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller to take down a satanic pedophile ring said to span the globe, and allegedly involves top Democratic leaders. Believers of the conspiracy theory, which revolves around an anonymous figure known only as “Q,” who shares via cryptic riddles posted to an image board notorious for child pornography, believe that Trump will eventually subject such top Democrats as Hillary Clinton to military tribunals.

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RosyDaisy

I have relatives who post that crazy shit on social media everyday and have been for years.

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Terrie

Guy helping take down pedophiles uses child porn hosting resource to communicate. Suuuuure. 

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Cartmann99

A little background: Jerome Corsi used to really be into the Qanon stuff and was one of the people who had figured out a way to make money off of it. One day, Q started attacking everyone who was profiting off of the QAnon trend and then Corsi immediately became one of the Trump supporters who doesn't believe in QAnon. :pb_rollseyes:

 

 

Looks like Corsi has decided that God and Orange Donnie will save him. :shakehead:

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Cartmann99

Q had previously told the QAnon followers that December 5th was the new date for when their fever swamp dreams would come true, after the November dates were a complete bust. When President Bush's funeral was scheduled for December 5th, the QAnon followers got themselves all worked up again.

I guess the new date for mass arrests will be rolled out tomorrow. :pb_rollseyes:

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Cartmann99

Daily Beast article about the effects of QAnon on relationships:

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Kimberly’s boyfriend was tired of hearing the QAnon videos she watched around their small apartment. To keep the peace, she started keeping the videos to herself. “I live in headphones now,” she told The Daily Beast.

“My boyfriend is... I don’t know how to describe it,” she said. “We have very different views. He does not think this QAnon thing is anything except nonsense. I drastically disagree.”

Over Thanksgiving, she joined a chorus of QAnon believers lamenting that their belief in the bizarre right-wing conspiracy theory had isolated them from friends or family, a loss keenly felt over the holidays. QAnon is “something I've been researching on my own, by myself pretty nonstop, 24/7 since probably July-ish,” Kimberly said. “And then it’s grown more and more and more and more and more and more intense for me.”

The QAnon theory falsely claims that President Donald Trump’s prominent opponents are part of an international criminal ring involved in the trafficking, abuse, and sometimes eating, of children. Believers think this because “Q,” an anonymous message board user who claims to be a high-level military insider, has been telling them so since October 2017. Over its year-plus lifespan, the theory has attracted untold legions of fans. It has also attracted comparisons to cults for behavior by adherents, some of whom claim to have become estranged from families and friends over their Q belief.

The Daily Beast spoke to four Q believers—two die-hards and two who are beginning to experience doubts—who claim to have been isolated from loved ones, as well as a former Q believer who now thinks the isolation helps reinforce QAnon support. The Daily Beast is withholding their last names at their requests.

In October, Matthew suggested “a support group” for members whose significant others did not believe in Q.

Matthew, a Washington man, was already in a QAnon club; he made the suggestion in a QAnon Facebook group with nearly 25,000 members. But what he suggested, a specialized group to deal with family alienation, resonated with the community.

“You hear about a lot of people, their spouses rolling their eyes and not seeing,” Matthew told The Daily Beast. “I’m trying to wake up my wife and head off potential disaster in the future and she just rolls her eyes. She thinks I’m nuts.”

Earlier this month, Megan posted about the lack of Q believers in her small Pennsylvania town. “There is no one in my life that I can physically touch that knows what's really going on,” she wrote.

The rift is most evident this time of year. “When I get together with family for the holidays,” Megan doesn’t feel comfortable discussing conspiracy theories, or even politics, with members of her family, she told The Daily Beast. “I stopped trying to tell them. I stopped. Nobody wants to hear it. They say you’re a conspiracy nut and you’re looking at wacky stuff on the internet.”

Megan and Matthew now voice various degrees of skepticism about QAnon. Both were involved in earlier conspiracy communities, and view Q as one of many conspiracies in that broader matrix of fringe beliefs. A number of recent QAnon prophecies, including predictions about mass arrests of Trump foes on December 5 and the dismissal of charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn this week, have flopped.

Those failures, plus doubts about the moderator of a large Facebook group have caused both to back away from the conspiracy while still supporting some of its claims. But Kimberly and Marjorie (among a growing community of Canadian QAnon believers) said they were all-in on the conspiracy.

“My friends have told me they are tired of seeing my political postings,” Marjorie told The Daily Beast. She’s lost several friends over political posts about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, including a post about Trudeau being bricked into a wall, she said. She believes Trudeau is linked to the New World Order, a conspiracy theory promoted by some QAnon believers, and said she hopes Trump will save Canada from Trudeau.

In once instance, “after having a friendship with her for 60 years, she humiliated me on my  Facebook page. There are other incidences as well. I keep it to myself that I follow QAnon. Some of my other friends follow as well.”

Kimberly said her Q belief had changed her, and that some former friends didn’t understand.

“I haven’t always been with these feelings I have now. I haven’t always felt the way I feel now,” she said. “I’ve done a complete 180. There are people in my family that don’t understand as well. I’ve lost some friends, people I’ve known since high school that I’m Facebook friends with, for an example. They just blocked me, or decided I’m not their friend, or unfriended me. Who the heck came up with that definition of friend anyway? That’s OK. It is what it is.”

Travis View is a researcher monitoring the QAnon conspiracy. Over the course of the movement, he’s seen believers discuss a growing estrangement from loved ones.

“People in the QAnon community often talk about alienation from family and friends,” View said. “Though they typically talk about how Q frayed their relationships on private Facebook groups. But they think these issues are temporary and primarily the fault of others. They often comfort themselves by imagining that there will be a moment of vindication sometime in the near future which will prove their beliefs right. They imagine that after this happens, not only will their relationships be restored, but people will turn them as leaders who understand what's going on better than the rest of us.”

But the alienation isn’t just a personal loss. It can also drive people further down the path of conspiracy.

Serena is a former QAnon believer. “I followed Q’s drops [forum posts]. I watched all the videos,” she told The Daily Beast. “I’m semi-retired, so that’s all I did all day. I was so excited. It was really a thrilling, exciting time.”

The spell broke in early 2018. She’d grown up in a military family. Her dad had been CIA, and though he was long dead by the time Q started posting, Serena still remembered how the intelligence community operated. The things Q, an alleged military insider, posted just didn’t sound right, she said.

“Q dropped Bible verses in their entirety. I mean like pages of Bible verses,” she said of her disillusionment. “I was immediately crestfallen. It just broke my heart. I immediately knew there is no way that military men are sitting around working on national security trying to rally the patriots that they would risk that leaked channel by putting Bible verses on there... I knew when I saw those Bible verses that it was a marketing scheme targeting conservative Christians for donations, merchandise sales, and profit with a political agenda of some kind.”

She left the movement and started watching a YouTuber who debunks Q claims.

“That kind of saved me. I also studied cults in the aftermath. I believe these people are brainwashed,” she told The Daily Beast. “There are several things they [Q] do. One is isolate their followers and turn their followers against all other sources.”

Cult expert Rachel Bernstein previously told Wired that online conspiracy movements can radicalize people by creating a tight-knit community, insulated from the rest of the world and its facts.

“When people get involved in a movement, collectively, what they’re saying is they want to be connected to each other,” Bernstein told Wired. “They want to have exclusive access to secret information other people don’t have, information they believe the powers that be are keeping from the masses, because it makes them feel protected and empowered. They’re a step ahead of those in society who remain willfully blind. This creates feeling similar to a drug—it’s its own high.”

As real-life friends slip away, some Q fans have taken solace in the online QAnon community.

“It gives me hope,” Marjorie said of the Facebook fanbase. “As far as I am concerned, real friends respect your opinions, not call you down.”

QAnon’s main slogan, “where we go one, we go all” is a statement of group identity. When she’s looking for more like-minded people, Kimberly searches a hashtag related to that slogan. “That tells me somebody’s paying attention. So I know maybe that person has some interesting things to share, so I might [look at] their profile. Whatever they’re doing, if I like what it is, I’ll comment on it.”

The online circles aren’t a replacement for family, View said. But they can simulate support for people who need it.

“There's a sense of fellowship in the QAnon community,” he said. “They imagine that they're all members of a small group of people who know about a coming glorious age in America. This fellowship isn't the same actual familial relationships, but it's a workable substitute when relationships with family becomes frayed. So this creates a vicious cycle: they fall down the rabbit hole of QAnon, which hurts their real life relationships, and causes them to fall down the rabbit hole even further.”

Matthew said he’s not in lockstep with other members of the QAnon community (he believes a number of other conspiracy theories less common in the group), but participates in Q groups nonetheless.

“People want to belong,” he said of online QAnon groups. “We want to belong somewhere, to some group. You did it back in high school: the cheerleaders, the jocks, the stoners, the dweebs, the book club, the chess club, everybody wants to belong.”

But QAnon isn’t the chess club. At its most radical core, QAnon is a call for drastic political purges. Adherents believe tens of thousands of Trump opponents will be arrested and possibly detained in Guantanamo Bay or executed. Some Q believers call for the military to implement martial law and crack down on Trump’s rivals. It’s a fantasy about a political Armageddon, after which the country will be cleansed and Trump can rule unimpeded.

Q’s failed predictions might be enough to dissuade some followers. But true conspiracy believers sometimes become more committed after a prediction falls flat. The 1956 book “When Prophecy Fails” is a study of an American doomsday cult whose followers became more outspoken in their beliefs after the cult’s central prediction of world-ending flood proved false. The study’s authors found that, throughout history, prophesy movements can actually become more intense after failure, as long as they have a robust community that reinforces belief among members.

These movements can also become volatile after several successive failed prophecies. Psychologist and author Robert Lifton uses the term “forcing the end” to describe efforts to push a prophecy into reality. In his book Destroying the World to Save It, Lifton describes a series of cults that initially believed Armageddon would happen naturally, without human intervention. But when significant dates came and went without revelation, and the groups perceived themselves to be under attack, members took drastic actions: mass suicides in the cases of the Heaven’s Gate and Peoples Temple cults, and mass murder in the case of the Manson family and Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo cult.

QAnon is less structured than these cults. Some followers like Matthew say they oppose martial law. But others have authored posts that appear to suggest ideas of “forcing the end.” After the December 5 prediction of mass arrests failed, View flagged a post by a QAnon follower who advocated “storm[ing] the white house” if the mass arrests don’t happen by mid January. “If you love our way of life, we may have to fight for it! WWG1WGA”

Leaving the QAnon movement isn’t easy, Serena, the Q renunciant, said.

“There’s different stages when you get out,” she said. “When I first got out I said ‘oh my goodness, I need to warn everybody. I need to warn them.’ But then I was attacked and threatened so harshly,” she said. “And then I was just so sad, like in a mourning stage, and then I had to laugh because it became so ridiculous. It was the only way I could cope.”

Megan, who has distanced herself from large parts of the theory after becoming convinced that Q is Trump insider Roger Stone, said the conspiracy videos can wear her down.

“Sometimes I watch it so much, I have to give it a break,” she said. “I say ‘I need a day away from this crap because it’s starting to depress me too much.’”

Matthew said he never made the support group he suggested in October.

“Recently a couple of us started questioning what’s really going on here,” he said. “This ‘where we go one, we go all’ is, I believe, brainwashing. Where are we going to go?”

Kimberly and Marjorie, meanwhile, said they’re sticking with the conspiracy theory and its leader.

“No,” Kimberly said when asked if anything would convince her Q was fake, “nothing.”

“No,” Marjorie answered the same question. “I just hope that justice will be served.”

 

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Marmion

The thing is that Trump is just as implicatable in this as Clinton .  https://www.dailywire.com/news/5749/both-trump-and-clinton-went-jeffrey-epsteins-sex-amanda-prestigiacomoc  ,   https://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/04/jeffrey-epstein-trump-lawsuit-sex-trafficking-237983  ,  https://www.newsweek.com/jeffrey-epstein-alexander-acosta-trump-sex-trafficking-underage-minor-1339974 ,  Trigger Warning  

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Howl

This to me is evidence that QAnon is trolling the credulous.  There is a current belief that JFK, Jr. didn't die in the plane crash and Trump would reveal on July 4th that he is still alive and JFK, Jr. would reveal to the world that he is Trump's No. 1 fan!   So yeah. Another dud. 

 

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Dreadcrumbs

I'm guessing the QAnons will try to spin Epstein's exposure and arrest in a way that makes Trump look good. Because they can't conceive the idea of Trump being involved in something like this unless it's to expose it. That's the one thing that has always been hilarious about them for me.

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AmericanRose
3 hours ago, Dreadcrumbs said:

I'm guessing the QAnons will try to spin Epstein's exposure and arrest in a way that makes Trump look good. Because they can't conceive the idea of Trump being involved in something like this unless it's to expose it. That's the one thing that has always been hilarious about them for me.

You are correct! In the Q Anon world, Trump is working behind the scenes to take down the 'deep state', and for some reason, they're really focused on pedophiles and child trafficking. Except, of course, he has to pretend he's one of them otherwise he'll be assassinated.

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Friday I saw a regular Toyota Sienna van with a "Q" sticker with a stars and stripes pattern on its rear window.  

Crazy times. 

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Howl

I stumbled across the LDS (Latter Day Saints) Freedom Forum while looking for information on the Chad Daybell/Lori Vallow Daybell case (see True Crime thread "No good ending"). Anyway, the last post on the LDS Freedom Forum regarding Chad and Lori was days ago, as everyone hunkers down for corona virus, Lori is in jail and can't make bail, Chad hasn't been arrested, in other words, no new news.  

I checked the index to see if perhaps a new Chad/Lori thread had been started and stumbled across this QAnon idiocy, which pretty much sums up all QAnon idiocy in one very long post. 

"There is No Virus" - Intel Update (Real News) by Mr.Ed 3-14-20

 

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ADoyle90815
On 3/19/2020 at 9:19 AM, Howl said:

I stumbled across the LDS (Latter Day Saints) Freedom Forum while looking for information on the Chad Daybell/Lori Vallow Daybell case (see True Crime thread "No good ending"). Anyway, the last post on the LDS Freedom Forum regarding Chad and Lori was days ago, as everyone hunkers down for corona virus, Lori is in jail and can't make bail, Chad hasn't been arrested, in other words, no new news.  

I checked the index to see if perhaps a new Chad/Lori thread had been started and stumbled across this QAnon idiocy, which pretty much sums up all QAnon idiocy in one very long post. 

"There is No Virus" - Intel Update (Real News) by Mr.Ed 3-14-20

 

One will need the rescue ferrets  because that forum is a real rabbit hole.

The Coronavirus Hoax

Edited by ADoyle90815
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Q Anon is here to stay. Is it the future of our politics?

Australian article looking at the effect Q Anon has had here, on everything from protests against coronavirus lockdown to the last federal election. 

Spoiler

Q Anon is here to stay. Is it the future of our politics?

Some of the anti-lockdown mob won't even know what QAnon is, but will still recite its talking points. A global cabal. Fear of satanic elites. The world on the brink of a 'great awakening'.

On Saturday the crazies may well be out in force. A loose coalition of lockdown opponents and COVID-19 truthers are set to rally around the country to mark “freedom day,” despite a police crackdown and a number of pre-emptive arrests.

Some will claim COVID-19 is a hoax, no worse than the flu. Others will be worried about 5G towers. There’ll be plenty of garden-variety anti-vaxxers and crunchy Byron Bay New Age types. And some will believe that US President Donald Trump is a messiah fighting to liberate the world from a Satanic cabal of paedophiles and child sex traffickers.

What began with an anonymous internet poster claiming to have top level US government “Q Clearance” dropping cryptic breadcrumbs on 4Chan has mushroomed into a sprawling conspiracy theory and millenarian doomsday cult. It’s been classified as a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI. It’s followers have committed murder.

In the world of QAnon, everyone from Hillary Clinton to Ellen deGeneres and Daniel Andrews are part of the satanic cabal. They’re trafficking children and drinking their blood. Accelerated by social media, QAnon has expanded across the world. It’s become a kind of mothership, the “big tent” conspiracy theory to which all others return.

Spend time around any of the anti-lockdown protests that have been sputtering across the country since March, and the QAnon talking points can’t be missed. See #SaveTheChildren? That’s QAnon. Paedophiles? QAnon. The “Great Awakening”? Also Q. Six months ago most Australians, outside the extremely online, would never have heard of QAnon. Now it’s the tie that binds together a disparate constellation of anti-lockdown conspiracies.

And thanks to the pandemic, it may have broken into our politics for good.

QAnon with an Australian accent

Even before the pandemic, QAnon had been bubbling away just outside the political fringes, slowly closing in. As Crikey reported last year, one of Scott Morrison’s closest family friends is a Q believer. At the recent Eden-Monaro byelection, an independent candidate with a QAnon-influenced social media history ran unsuccessfully.

It’s started to pull in anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists — most prominently NRL WAG turned anti-vax influencer Taylor Winterstein and celebrity chef Pete Evans. But it’s the pandemic that has truly turned it into the mothership.

“Look at any conspiracy theorist’s Facebook, and you’ll almost universally see that they’ve been ‘Q-pilled’ since March,” University of Tasmania lecturer and online disinformation researcher Kaz Ross tells Crikey.

Some of the anti-lockdown mob won’t even know what QAnon is, but will still recite its talking points — a global cabal, fear of paedophilic, satanic elites, the world on the brink of a “great awakening”.

How did QAnon come to dominate Australia’s conspiracy theory landscape so quickly? Ross says firstly, much like evangelical Christianity, QAnon tries to offer sense and cohesion during a seemingly apocalyptic time.

“We know that there’s a turn to religion and to try and make meaning of distressing events. We’ve been through the horrendous bushfires, then on the back of that, we get the pandemic. It’s all a bit Biblical.”

QAnon has considerable overlap with centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracies like the blood libel, which have been aggressively pushed out of the internet sewers by the alt-right in recent years.

And finally, there’s the anti-vaxxer wellness types, who are highly Instagram literate, and adept at spreading junk science through social media. Once they started speaking the language of QAnon, those verbal queues — references to the “Great Awakening” and a “gathering storm” seeped into the anti-lockdown lexicon.

What’s interesting is the way QAnon has flourished in Australia in the absence of a charismatic Trump-like figure, drawing in hippyish sorts who might’ve once ostensibly been on the political left.

But outside of the core beliefs, QAnon’s great strength is it’s ability to quickly subsume other strands of conspiratorial thinking, to latch onto new contexts and acquire a distinctly local flavour. QAnon effortlessly incorporated fears about 5G and vaccines through the pandemic.

Concordia University online disinformation researcher Marc-Andre Argentino has described Australia as among the “five eyes” of QAnon — it has one of the largest followings in the world here.

Looking back at Australian QAnon posts in January, Argentino pointed to a uniquely Australian focus on bushfires and the Catholic Church.

Politicians under attack

In August, three years after QAnon started popping up, reporters finally confronted Trump about it. The President nudged and winked and didn’t condemn QAnon. Who was he to disavow people who “love our country” and “like me very much”, Trump said.

In August, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a pro-QAnon businesswoman, won the GOP primary for a safe congressional seat in Florida. A future Republican star, Trump called her. Come November, there will be several QAnon-supporters in Congress.

In Australia, QAnon has started poking its head out of the political shadows in the last few months. Last week, Nationals MP Anne Webster was in court fighting a defamation battle against Karen Brewer, a conspiracy theorist who’d accused her of being part of a paedophile network.

As Victoria’s crossbench prepared to vote on extending the state’s emergency laws this week, dozens of MPs were bombarded with abusive messages, many from QAnon supporters, after their phone numbers were shared in anti-lockdown groups.

Dan Andrews is public enemy number one for QAnon Australia right now, Ross says. He’s accused, falsely, of being a paedophile. Believers have showed up at his electorate office, and he’s one of many politicians copping a stream of abuse.

The future of politics?

Australia’s politics has, by and large, always been a little more sober than that of the United States. It’s harder for Q-infused crazies to jump from the fringes into the political mainstream. But QAnon believers don’t need to be in parliament to influence our elections for the worse.

A now largely forgotten footnote to Labor’s 2019 electoral choke was the death tax scare, a Facebook misinformation campaign with no basis in the party’s platform. Labor candidates felt the ground beneath them shift, like they were fighting an impossible battle against a viral lie that wouldn’t go away.

Since 2016, sensible, normie technocrats like Bill Shorten have struggled to find an answer to the turbo-charged politics of fake. All QAnon followers need to do is clutter newsfeeds with enough white noise, and a tight election could start to shift. If Facebook carries through with its threat to block news content in Australia, that could become even easier.

In the US, and to an extent in Australia, right-wing disinformation is destroying the competition in the battle for eyeballs on Facebook. The Trump team knows that those same very fine people, radicalised by Facebook, are central to his re-election chances.

It’s not implausible that an Australian candidate could, like Trump, start really tapping into that misinformation, winking at a growing chorus of revved up Q believers.

And no matter what happens to Trump in November, those believers will grow. Because Q offers what regular life doesn’t. It’s a really good story. It has heroes and villains. It helps people make sense of a world that is surreal, nonsensical and often increasingly grim. It’s no surprise that The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance, in one of the seminal pieces of writing on QAnon, calls it a new American religion.

When adherents fall down the QAnon rabbithole, they’re often so feverishly drawn into that parallel universe they let their offline relationships wither and die. Q gives them all the purpose and hope they need. They’re patriots, citizen journalists, internet sleuths piecing together the fragments of a great, terrible secret, helping to save the world from a terrible evil.

Mainstream politics, the media, institutions that are meant to give people hope, meaning, clarity and solace, have failed to do that. Their message is far less compelling. And as long as that continues to be true, QAnon will be here to stay.

I had seen a lot of the talking points getting more intense recently, but I hadn't realised how quickly they had coalesced. It has literally gone from pretty fringe in January to a widely disparate group of people I know on Facebook now.

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Loveday
13 hours ago, Ozlsn said:

Q Anon is here to stay. Is it the future of our politics?

Australian article looking at the effect Q Anon has had here, on everything from protests against coronavirus lockdown to the last federal election. 

  Hide contents

Q Anon is here to stay. Is it the future of our politics?

Some of the anti-lockdown mob won't even know what QAnon is, but will still recite its talking points. A global cabal. Fear of satanic elites. The world on the brink of a 'great awakening'.

On Saturday the crazies may well be out in force. A loose coalition of lockdown opponents and COVID-19 truthers are set to rally around the country to mark “freedom day,” despite a police crackdown and a number of pre-emptive arrests.

Some will claim COVID-19 is a hoax, no worse than the flu. Others will be worried about 5G towers. There’ll be plenty of garden-variety anti-vaxxers and crunchy Byron Bay New Age types. And some will believe that US President Donald Trump is a messiah fighting to liberate the world from a Satanic cabal of paedophiles and child sex traffickers.

What began with an anonymous internet poster claiming to have top level US government “Q Clearance” dropping cryptic breadcrumbs on 4Chan has mushroomed into a sprawling conspiracy theory and millenarian doomsday cult. It’s been classified as a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI. It’s followers have committed murder.

In the world of QAnon, everyone from Hillary Clinton to Ellen deGeneres and Daniel Andrews are part of the satanic cabal. They’re trafficking children and drinking their blood. Accelerated by social media, QAnon has expanded across the world. It’s become a kind of mothership, the “big tent” conspiracy theory to which all others return.

Spend time around any of the anti-lockdown protests that have been sputtering across the country since March, and the QAnon talking points can’t be missed. See #SaveTheChildren? That’s QAnon. Paedophiles? QAnon. The “Great Awakening”? Also Q. Six months ago most Australians, outside the extremely online, would never have heard of QAnon. Now it’s the tie that binds together a disparate constellation of anti-lockdown conspiracies.

And thanks to the pandemic, it may have broken into our politics for good.

QAnon with an Australian accent

Even before the pandemic, QAnon had been bubbling away just outside the political fringes, slowly closing in. As Crikey reported last year, one of Scott Morrison’s closest family friends is a Q believer. At the recent Eden-Monaro byelection, an independent candidate with a QAnon-influenced social media history ran unsuccessfully.

It’s started to pull in anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists — most prominently NRL WAG turned anti-vax influencer Taylor Winterstein and celebrity chef Pete Evans. But it’s the pandemic that has truly turned it into the mothership.

“Look at any conspiracy theorist’s Facebook, and you’ll almost universally see that they’ve been ‘Q-pilled’ since March,” University of Tasmania lecturer and online disinformation researcher Kaz Ross tells Crikey.

Some of the anti-lockdown mob won’t even know what QAnon is, but will still recite its talking points — a global cabal, fear of paedophilic, satanic elites, the world on the brink of a “great awakening”.

How did QAnon come to dominate Australia’s conspiracy theory landscape so quickly? Ross says firstly, much like evangelical Christianity, QAnon tries to offer sense and cohesion during a seemingly apocalyptic time.

“We know that there’s a turn to religion and to try and make meaning of distressing events. We’ve been through the horrendous bushfires, then on the back of that, we get the pandemic. It’s all a bit Biblical.”

QAnon has considerable overlap with centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracies like the blood libel, which have been aggressively pushed out of the internet sewers by the alt-right in recent years.

And finally, there’s the anti-vaxxer wellness types, who are highly Instagram literate, and adept at spreading junk science through social media. Once they started speaking the language of QAnon, those verbal queues — references to the “Great Awakening” and a “gathering storm” seeped into the anti-lockdown lexicon.

What’s interesting is the way QAnon has flourished in Australia in the absence of a charismatic Trump-like figure, drawing in hippyish sorts who might’ve once ostensibly been on the political left.

But outside of the core beliefs, QAnon’s great strength is it’s ability to quickly subsume other strands of conspiratorial thinking, to latch onto new contexts and acquire a distinctly local flavour. QAnon effortlessly incorporated fears about 5G and vaccines through the pandemic.

Concordia University online disinformation researcher Marc-Andre Argentino has described Australia as among the “five eyes” of QAnon — it has one of the largest followings in the world here.

Looking back at Australian QAnon posts in January, Argentino pointed to a uniquely Australian focus on bushfires and the Catholic Church.

Politicians under attack

In August, three years after QAnon started popping up, reporters finally confronted Trump about it. The President nudged and winked and didn’t condemn QAnon. Who was he to disavow people who “love our country” and “like me very much”, Trump said.

In August, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a pro-QAnon businesswoman, won the GOP primary for a safe congressional seat in Florida. A future Republican star, Trump called her. Come November, there will be several QAnon-supporters in Congress.

In Australia, QAnon has started poking its head out of the political shadows in the last few months. Last week, Nationals MP Anne Webster was in court fighting a defamation battle against Karen Brewer, a conspiracy theorist who’d accused her of being part of a paedophile network.

As Victoria’s crossbench prepared to vote on extending the state’s emergency laws this week, dozens of MPs were bombarded with abusive messages, many from QAnon supporters, after their phone numbers were shared in anti-lockdown groups.

Dan Andrews is public enemy number one for QAnon Australia right now, Ross says. He’s accused, falsely, of being a paedophile. Believers have showed up at his electorate office, and he’s one of many politicians copping a stream of abuse.

The future of politics?

Australia’s politics has, by and large, always been a little more sober than that of the United States. It’s harder for Q-infused crazies to jump from the fringes into the political mainstream. But QAnon believers don’t need to be in parliament to influence our elections for the worse.

A now largely forgotten footnote to Labor’s 2019 electoral choke was the death tax scare, a Facebook misinformation campaign with no basis in the party’s platform. Labor candidates felt the ground beneath them shift, like they were fighting an impossible battle against a viral lie that wouldn’t go away.

Since 2016, sensible, normie technocrats like Bill Shorten have struggled to find an answer to the turbo-charged politics of fake. All QAnon followers need to do is clutter newsfeeds with enough white noise, and a tight election could start to shift. If Facebook carries through with its threat to block news content in Australia, that could become even easier.

In the US, and to an extent in Australia, right-wing disinformation is destroying the competition in the battle for eyeballs on Facebook. The Trump team knows that those same very fine people, radicalised by Facebook, are central to his re-election chances.

It’s not implausible that an Australian candidate could, like Trump, start really tapping into that misinformation, winking at a growing chorus of revved up Q believers.

And no matter what happens to Trump in November, those believers will grow. Because Q offers what regular life doesn’t. It’s a really good story. It has heroes and villains. It helps people make sense of a world that is surreal, nonsensical and often increasingly grim. It’s no surprise that The Atlantic’s Adrienne LaFrance, in one of the seminal pieces of writing on QAnon, calls it a new American religion.

When adherents fall down the QAnon rabbithole, they’re often so feverishly drawn into that parallel universe they let their offline relationships wither and die. Q gives them all the purpose and hope they need. They’re patriots, citizen journalists, internet sleuths piecing together the fragments of a great, terrible secret, helping to save the world from a terrible evil.

Mainstream politics, the media, institutions that are meant to give people hope, meaning, clarity and solace, have failed to do that. Their message is far less compelling. And as long as that continues to be true, QAnon will be here to stay.

I had seen a lot of the talking points getting more intense recently, but I hadn't realised how quickly they had coalesced. It has literally gone from pretty fringe in January to a widely disparate group of people I know on Facebook now.

I have a family member who is a Q follower/adherent/believer (whatever they call themselves). It makes even casual conversation difficult, to say the least. Add in extreme traditional Catholicism, and there's the element of 'you're committing a mortal sin if you vote for anyone who is even slightly less than rabidly pro-life' that gets added to those conversations. And there is nothing you can say to people like this to make them even just stop and think for a moment, much less realise how ridiculous they sound. You just get a barrage of words in return, a set script full of talking points. The party line. It's frightening. 

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8 hours ago, Loveday said:

I have a family member who is a Q follower/adherent/believer (whatever they call themselves). It makes even casual conversation difficult, to say the least. Add in extreme traditional Catholicism, and there's the element of 'you're committing a mortal sin if you vote for anyone who is even slightly less than rabidly pro-life' that gets added to those conversations. And there is nothing you can say to people like this to make them even just stop and think for a moment, much less realise how ridiculous they sound. You just get a barrage of words in return, a set script full of talking points. The party line. It's frightening. 

I think what the article tied together for me was why people from very different areas of my life, very different backgrounds, ages, both rural and urban, were suddenly spouting the same bullshit. There were a couple of (mostly rural) ones who were pushing the bushfire conspiracy theories in January, but the hard lockdown here really saw an explosion of people claiming it was a hoax/5G conspiracies/magical cure conspiracies (some of those people were previously into the cancer curing conspiracies too, so that surprised me less) and now that we're being ruled by fascists. Which... no. It's weird to watch - I started wondering if anyone's done a frame by frame to see if the Q videos have subliminal messaging.

Also how long before the Catholic Church (as well as others) wakes up to this being in direct competition for believers with them?

Seriously, we had Mormonism in the 19th Century, Scientology in the 20th and now this?!

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Apparently Evangelicals and probably Teavangelics more so, are vulnerable to being turned to QAnon, and my sense is that mainstream Evangelicals and other Christians are getting very, very nervous about it. 

An NPR piece that is linked in the article below: How QAnon Conspiracy Is Spreading In Christian Communities Across The U.S.

I've linked to this USA Today op-ed, but I'm putting the whole thing in the text box because the page is slow to load and riddled with ads.  In terms of media bias, USA Today is considered slightly left of center -- whatever THAT means these days. 

This is written by Prof. Ed Stetzer at Wheaton College on how Christians can avoid being sucked into the QAnon conspiracy theory. Note to Prof. Stetzer: please address the Evangelical cult that  has elevated Trump's status to chosen by God to lead American in the direction they prefer, which seems to go hand-in-hand with QAnon. 

Evangelicals need to address the QAnoners in our midst   QAnon has been making headlines but Evangelical Christians should not be swept up in the bizarre movement.

Spoiler

OPINION

QAnon has been making headlines in recent weeks. It's going to make more.

QAnon is, among many things, an expansive conspiracy theory built around the idea that a "deep state," or cabal of elite leftists, is clandestinely working against President Donald Trump. A person (or small group) known as "Q" drops revelations in various forms online. At the core of the appeal is its ability to generate fear. Suggesting that there is a powerful figure or group subverting the country and empowering all manner of evil is frightening.

Some of the headlines about QAnon in recent days have connected it with evangelical Christians. In addition, many proponents describe their mission in religious and quasi-religious terms.

Legitimizing a new religion?

Some talk about QAnon as if some messianic figure is at work. Similar to the ancient heresy of Gnosticism in the early church, it lures people with promises of secret knowledge. It provides a sense of identity and belonging with code phrases like: "Where we go one, we go all." Many people, including active church members, are being drawn in.  

QAnon is starting to shift things in ways that will particularly impact churches. According to a recent NPR article, many pastors believe it already has.  Here are ways Christians can engage this issue.

First, cultivate discernment:

In a 2018 poll we conducted at Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Research Institute, we found that 46% of self-identified evangelicals and 52% of those whose beliefs tag them as evangelical "strongly believes the mainstream media produces fake news." 

The level to which people attended church correlated with this belief; the more active in church, the less trusting of news media.

Yes, news agencies have biases; this fact is not synonymous with producing fake news. CNN leans left; Fox leans right. But bias doesn't equal fake news, and too many are rejecting legitimate news sources while being discipled by their social media.

QAnon describes a deep state cabal of pedophiles. There are many of us, including evangelicals, who are strongly opposed to problems of child trafficking and pedophiles. Yet, one can oppose evil within the world without subscribing to the conspiracy theories like QAnon.

Second, recognize the resistant:

Many people and groups have issues with QAnon. The FBI expressed concerns about this group regarding potential domestic terrorism. Vice President Mike Pence said: “We dismiss conspiracy theories around here out of hand.”

It is problematic that Trump noted his appreciation for QAnon supporters because of their support of his presidency. I am glad the vice president didn't, along with other notable leaders of their party such as Sen. Ben Sasse and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. We need to hear them.  [note: Pence is meeting with a QAnon group, so there's that]

Point QAnon adherents to people they trust that have already spoken out against the bizarre nature of its claims.

Third, don't be duped by religious language:

QAnon says there is a coming storm or great awakening. They mention pedophile rings, the pandemic, and the deep state as part of a cosmic battle between God and Satan.

In Christianity, we believe God is at work, and if something happens we don't understand, God had a different plan, and we look to him for guidance. QAnon is following similar patterns — knowing the Q always has a plan in this cosmic struggle of good against evil.

Religious language appeals to religious people, but QAnon is not for Christians — it is a replacement, with its own messiah and demons, unrelated to Christianity and unmoored from the Bible.

Just because it's on social media doesn't mean it's true

Finally, pursue things that are true:

This is primarily a social media conspiracy. Social media is a petri dish for conspiracies, causing far too many to believe things like QAnon are true. I have often pointed out my disagreements with Democratic politicians. But that doesn't mean they are running a secret pedophile ring, nor should I believe that because it went viral on Twitter.

Believers are to be people of the truth as the Jesus we follow literally calls himself “truth” (John 14:6). Without a rigorous pursuit of truth we can see anger to the point that people will take up arms as we saw in Pizza-gate, where a guy came with a gun to rescue the children trapped in the basement — in a store with no basement.

Years ago, Mark Noll wrote about the "Scandal of the Evangelical Mind." If there is anything that represents the scandal of the evangelical mind right now, it's the gullibility of Christians who need to be discipled into critical thinking about how to engage the world around them. We need to be able to see through the bias and discern conspiracy theories that have risen to the level of messianic religion.

As seekers of truth, we need pastors, leaders, and everyday Christians to address this conspiracy, and others like it, before others are fooled. It's the Christian's role to speak up about this and against this, even when the president does not, and before more people get hurt.

Ed Stetzer is a dean and professor at Wheaton College where he leads the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center.

 

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Coconut Flan
Quote

Elite reporters, and some non-elite reporters who are following suit, keep talking about conspiracy theories as if they were a “collective delusion.” They are no such thing. The authoritarians who espouse them don’t care if QAnon is true. They don’t care that it’s false. Conspiracy theories are a convenience, a means of rationalizing what they already want to do, which is precisely what elite reporters can’t know and do not report.

That is terrifying to me.

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Alisamer
On 9/5/2020 at 8:19 PM, Ozlsn said:

And some will believe that US President Donald Trump is a messiah fighting to liberate the world from a Satanic cabal of paedophiles and child sex traffickers.

All while he publically sends his good wishes to an actual (accused) child sex trafficker.

I don't get any of this. I don't get how anyone can read any of this crazy and believe it. 

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GreyhoundFan

I'm surprised Barr hasn't stopped the FBI from investigating some of the Q crap.

 

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fraurosena
9 hours ago, GreyhoundFan said:

I'm surprised Barr hasn't stopped the FBI from investigating some of the Q crap.

It’s Trump’s strategy to have as much divisiveness as possible. Qanon is a handy tool for that. However, they don’t control Q, or what Qanon believes. So Barr allowing the FBI to investigate them is strategically smart. If Qanon were to turn against Trump, Barr could immediately use it to muzzle them. Letting the world know the FBI is investigating them is also strategic; by letting Qanon know, Barr is signaling he has a hold on them, so they’d better stay behind Trump.

 

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