It’s now January 12, 2021, and Rep. Mikie Sherrill releases a video to her constituents in which she accuses fellow members of Congress of having aided and abetted the attack on the Capitol. Sherrill and twenty-nine other House Democrats, according to a January 13 Politico article, are now “demanding information from Capitol security officials about ‘suspicious’ visitors at the U.S. Capitol [on the day before the attack] that would only have been permitted entry by a member of Congress . . .” The implication is that “some members of Congress may have provided ‘reconnaissance’ tours to would-be insurrections.”1
Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Eric Berthel of Connecticut, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina (Republicans all) have made no secret of their allegiance to QAnon.
It’s now January 16, and Gene decides to appear on a QAnon YouTube channel hosted by a woman named Cirsten Weldon. Weldon has a talent for spreading her own brand of QAnonsense, including claims of assassination attempts against Trump that never occurred. Only recently, she insisted that:
the 2018 false alarm about a missile threat in Hawaii was actually an assassination plot against Trump, and the red dots that appeared on Trump during the 2018 Christmas tree lighting ceremony were part of a Mossad effort to “try to take him out.” When Trump made a surprise and unexplained visit to a hospital in November 2019, Weldon claimed it was because Trump’s official food taster was “in critical condition because they poisoned all the salt and all the water in the White House, so they had to pump his stomach.”2
Now, just four days before Biden’s inauguration, while obsessively primping her hair and gawking at herself in her Zoom camera, Weldon implores Gene to explain what really happened to Nancy Pelosi during the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
Here’s Gene’s response:
“The real Pelosi, during the first surrounding [of the Capitol], when she saw the National Guard, she went through the tunnels, went home, and then she ran for it down to the Gulf Coast of Florida, trying to get a deep sea fisherman guy to take her out past the military blockades. Then she went over to the Atlantic coastline and tried the same thing. She went all the way up to Myrtle Beach where she finally got somebody to take her out, but the guy was turned around by the Coast Guard. So then she went down to Charleston, and she went to the pier and a TR [Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear aircraft carrier] asset came off the carrier and chased her down the street. Ridiculous! She’s running down the street, goes into an alley with her bodyguard—her Chinese bodyguard, a Kung Fu guy—and they hid behind a dumpster. Like a TR isn’t gonna see you behind a dumpster? So they captured her, and she’s arrested.
“So the Pelosi we’re seeing now is a clone. The submarine she was trying to get to was out past the blockade, and the carrier group scrambled assets, and they depth charged the bejeepers out of that thing . . . The troops were sent in, and all the people in the Congress and Senate have already been cited to be under arrest, and the secret Space Program fleet that Trump has—they have technology that can render people unconscious, and they just go in, make ‘em all go to sleep, and pick ‘em all up.
“So Trump signed the Insurrection Act, and all he has to do is announce it. It’s a classified document. It can’t be shown to the public. The people who are saying that it’s not signed don’t understand the law. It’s signed, but until he announces it publicaly, and then shows it at the same time, it’s not active. It’ll be active once he shows it in public.
“We’re in a very high state of alert. There’re military troops all over the country. The National Guard’s activated.”
In case you’re having trouble following all of that, here’s a summation: The National Guard has been deployed not because a mob of violent QAnon followers assaulted the Capitol, but because Nancy Pelosi and her Kung Fu bodyguard attempted to escape the secret Space Program fleet inside a foreign submarine.
With a straight face, Weldon then says, “I have a question for you. Do you think they’re going to let the Biden inauguration go on?”
Gene: “From what I’ve been told, the plan is that they’ll let it start, then they’ll announce the Insurrection Act and arrest Biden in the process. That’s currently what the plan is.”3
It’s now the Big Day: January 20, 2021. The Moment of Truth.
Rick is wearing a black t-shirt that features the words “TRUST THE PLAN” in red, white, and blue. This slogan is superimposed over an immense cross.
Rick begins his show by saying, “There’s a cross on this t-shirt for a reason . . . ‘Cause this is not Trump’s plan or Q’s plan. It is God’s plan. And obviously God is deciding that He needs to wake more people up. [Laughs] It’s clear that that’s exactly what’s happening here! And we’re gonna go into why we’re still winning! We’re winning every day in a big way because we have military operations all over the world. It’s not just the U.S. military. A lot of other militaries are participating and have signed up in this movement to take this Cabal down. The Cabal is going down! Now it’s just the matter of the timing and how many darn Americans we have to wake up! . . . I want people to focus on the right things here. Remember: falling into fear creates a lack of faith. If you continue having faith, you’re one of the remnants, one of the red-pilled Patriots. You’re part of the Army! If you think . . . Amanda Grace is a false prophet, everything that Q’s done is false, then that would mean that—” Rick’s voice falters. The next thought that crosses Rick’s mind is clearly disturbing to him. “Because Q Proofs show that clearly Trump and Q are like this.” He links his hands together. “You’d have to believe that Trump is false.” He shakes his head darkly. “That’s not goin’ on. . . right? That means if you believe in Trump, if you believe in Jesus [points up at the ceiling of his little studio], and most importantly, if you believe in the Lord God Almighty, the Lord of the Universe, you need to hold the line. And everybody who’s a red-pilled Christian Patriot needs to be a part of that because there’re people falling out of line right and left right now, as if the world’s over. And it’s not. We’re seeing Joe [Biden] display what would happen if we gave him four years. He would destroy this country. But he’s not gonna get four years . . . I think we have to get to some of these middle-of-the-road Democrats, as well as some of these Trump supporters who’ve given up, wake them up to how bad this would be. And I think it’s all coming, guys, it’s all coming . . . This is a place to come to for optimism, hope, and truth. I pray that only truth prevails on this channel!”
Gene then comes on the show to reveal THE MOST STARTLING TRUTH OF ALL! You see, it’s “a fairly decent probability” that on March 4, 2021, Biden will be removed from the White House by the U.S. military and Trump will be placed back in power. “That’s the most likely probability at this time,” Gene insists. “We’re in a jumbled timeline where the moves and countermoves of the Cabal and the Alliance are what decides what things happen.”
Rick shakes his head and replies, “Wow. What a shame that we have to give power to the criminals for a while to show everybody how horrible of an administration it would’ve been . . . if we left it alone.”
In response to all the evil Democrats who are laughing at those who have placed their faith in Q for the past few years, Gene has this response: “They were laughing at Noah right up until it started pouring rain. Building a big, huge boat in the middle of the land, and putting on animals and all kinds of stuff? For those who doubt it, look at the side of Mount Ararat at 13,000-plus feet and it sits there today. That’s how high the water got! So go ahead and let your friends laugh at you . . . until it starts pourin’ rain on the Cabal again!”4
This video has received 20,947 views within six hours of being posted on YouTube.
It’s now March 4, the day the U.S. military is scheduled to barge into the Oval Office, drag Biden out by the hair, and replace him with Trump at long last.
Needless to say, this doesn’t happen.
So Rick begins today’s episode by telling his loyal flock, “Make sure you’re not watching the news before you’re in the Word of God because Satan’s using that to try to control you into his timeline . . . It’s kind of like a virus, affecting you!”
After this wise advice, Gene appears on the show to announce that two hundred members of the Special Forces lost their lives earlier that day while liberating a Cabal-controlled military base located deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Not a single mention is made of the fact that Gene’s prediction about March 4 has not come to pass. His previous statement (“That’s the most likely probability at this time”) warrants at least a passing mention of the date, does it not?
Rick and Gene aren’t even bothering to explain the discrepancies anymore.
Instead, Gene informs his audience that the World Wildlife Fund—the largest conservation organization on Earth—must be defunded as soon as possible. Why? The symbol of the WWF is a panda and has been since the organization’s establishment in 1961.
Here’s a direct quote from Gene: “The panda logo is a well-known pedophile symbol.”
Rick nods, then says, “Mm-hm. Yeah, wow. Very sick.”5
“Very sick” is an appropriate diagnosis, of course.
But not for the panda.
It’s now March 23, and Sidney Powell has concocted a rather peculiar defense in response to the fact that Dominion Voting Systems is suing her for claiming repeatedly that the company’s voting machines rigged the election in favor of Joe Biden.
Here’s a passage from Katelyn Polantz’s March 23, 2021 CNN report entitled “Sidney Powell Argues in New Court Filing That No Reasonable People Would Believe Her Election Fraud Claims”:
Right-wing lawyer Sidney Powell is claiming in a new court filing that reasonable people wouldn't have believed as fact her assertions of fraud after the 2020 presidential election.
The election infrastructure company Dominion Voting Systems sued Powell for defamation after she pushed lawsuits and made appearances in conservative media on behalf of then-President Donald Trump to sow doubt about the 2020 election results. Dominion claims that Powell knew her election fraud accusations were false and hurtful to the company.
In a new court filing, Powell's attorneys write that she was sharing her "opinion" and that the public could reach "their own conclusions" about whether votes were changed by election machines.
"Given the highly charged and political context of the statements, it is clear that Powell was describing the facts on which she based the lawsuits she filed in support of President Trump," Powell's defense lawyers wrote in a court filing on Monday.
"Indeed, Plaintiffs themselves characterize the statements at issue as 'wild accusations' and 'outlandish claims.' They are repeatedly labelled 'inherently improbable' and even 'impossible.' Such characterizations of the allegedly defamatory statements further support Defendants' position that reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process."6
Translation: The obvious fact that Powell’s assertions are 100% bullshit is the exact same reason she shouldn't be held liable for uttering them over and over again in public. After all (say Powell and her lawyers), what kind of a halfwit would allow themselves to believe such nonsense? Certainly no one of any real consequence . . .
It’s now March 24, and Rick is hosting his first episode since Sidney Powell and her attorneys threw him, Gene, and the entire B2T audience under the bus by essentially describing them as unreasonable naifs. During this hour-plus episode, Rick never utters a single word about Powell’s damning statement. If Rick follows the news at all, he couldn’t have missed hearing about the Powell story, which was plastered all over the internet the previous day. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by Rick’s silence on this matter. After all, as Rick himself said, “Make sure you’re not watching the news before you’re in the Word of God because Satan’s using that to try to control you . . .” Instead of acknowledging reality, Rick chooses to sink deeper into fantasy and begins pushing the notion that Trump will be “back in office by August.”
At one point, Rick says that he and his followers need to abandon mainstream conservatives who are already strategizing for the next Presidential election in 2024. “Where we need to be fighting is with General Flynn and Sidney Powell!” Rich says. “We need to be fighting with Lin Wood [an attorney who publicly backed Trump’s allegations that vote rigging cost him a second term]. These are the people we need to be fighting with [. . .]. I’m personally not going to be messing with people who’re talking about 2024. Again, that’s why all my t-shirts that are coming out pretty soon are going to say, ‘TRUMP 2021!’ All my 2020 t-shirts are changing to ‘2021’ because I think that’s when it’s gonna happen! That might not be as early as you want it, but it will happen . . . and in an amazing way.”7
It’s now April 20th (Hitler’s 132nd birthday), and numerous articles have begun to appear in various mainstream publications that attempt to lay the blame/credit for the entire QAnon phenomenon on a single person: Ron Watkins, the administrator of the 8kun message board.8 Most of these articles were inspired by Cullen Hoback’s recent HBO documentary, Q: Into the Storm, which is hardly definitive in proving its central thesis. Hoback’s attempts to pin the job on Watkins are based on little more than circumstantial evidence, innuendo, and rumor—the same logically fallacious pitfalls upon which the QAnon narrative has been constructed from the very beginning.
If Watkins was indeed solely responsible for QAnon, I have some key questions for him: “Ron, are you the one who directed Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely—a highly decorated military figure in the U.S. Army—to appear on a Canadian radio show just a few months before the lockdown for the express purpose of conning thousands of listeners into believing that Q is a real intelligence officer who’s been feeding ‘very valid’ information to the President of the United States?9 If so, how did you go about contacting Maj. Gen. Vallely? Did you know each other socially? Did you two like-minded patriots just happen to hook up randomly in a 4chan chatroom? And if you didn’t contact Maj. Gen. Vallely, who did? Or did Vallely simply volunteer to come out of retirement and blatantly lie to the entire world for no particular reason, merely for shits ‘n giggles?” It should be obvious that a high-ranking military officer like Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely doesn’t take his marching orders from a creep like Ron Watkins.
Though Hoback is hyperfocused on uncovering the exact identity of Q, I would argue that this is not the most fascinating aspect of the QAnon phenomenon. Anonymous people have been posting convoluted, baseless conspiracy theories online since the inception of the internet. Not only would most people have trouble keeping track of all of these theories, under normal circumstances they wouldn’t even be interested in doing so. The most important question is: What is it about QAnon that attracted so many average people? What is it about QAnon that attracted so many educated Americans? Americans like the Arizona college professor who was fired for teaching his English students that JFK, Jr. is still alive and eager to join Trump in an all-out war against Satanism.10 Americans like the Florida middle school teacher who told her students that Antifa covertly led the charge against the Capitol Building on January 6.11 Americans like the Chapman University constitutional law scholar who addressed the crowd at Trump’s “Save America” rally and spoke about the existence of “‘secret folders’ in ballot machines that were used to skew vote totals” and “questioned [Kamala] Harris’ birthright citizenship and eligibility to become vice president.”12 It might be comforting to think that only the most extreme initiates of the uneducated, basement-dwelling “Proud Boy” contingency became ensnared in Q’s web, but that’s clearly not the case. The siren call of Q extended far beyond The Three Percenters, The Oath Keepers, and Texas Freedom Force. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the QAnon psyop is not the identity of its architects, but the mere fact that it worked . . . and worked so damn well.
It’s worth noting that not all of QAnon’s early “fans” were completely taken in by the scam. After the first part of my QAnon series was published by Salon, I received an email from an associate who participated live in the very first Q post when it popped up out of nowhere on 4chan in November of 2017. In retrospect, he had this to say about the experience:
I've been front row for Q since day 1. The first Q post was a series of questions posted by someone claiming to be an insider. The gist was that we now finally have an insider at the highest levels, letting us know that for the first time, someone was actually going to take a run at the ruling class (deep state). I can't recall with perfect certainty, but among the couple things this first Q post mentioned was that Michael Flynn was a victim of a coup attempt, and that we should trust that there are people in Trump's inner circle who are aware of this, and that we needed to be patient as they needed to navigate this extremely carefully and quietly if anything was to ever come of it . . . none of the more fantastical demon pedophile stuff was part of Q in the beginning, beyond some pretty anodyne stuff about trust in god/the truth shall reveal . . .
Anyway, what gave this LARP some legs was that someone started posting pics from clearly inside the white house. It was early in xmas season, and I think it was the day (or day after) they started putting up xmas decorations around the white house, and someone was posting pics of the decorations, which we were able to correlate to official images of the white house xmas. someone was clearly there snapping pics and, on 4chan, since everybody is lying and larping all the time, the custom is to post proof by timestamping the pics. So, for example, people will write down the day's date, the time, and "/pol//" and include it in the photo. When people challenged the person posting the pics, more pics were posted with various forms of timestamps. It was pretty clear that there was at least one person physically in the white house at least for this moment who read or was somewhat familiar with /pol/ and /pol/ culture. Of course, it could have been an elaborate ruse (never put anything past internet nerds), but the board seemed to generally accept the pics poster as legit, acceptance that is not easily won nor freely given around those parts.
Note that the xmas pics thing happened in a separate thread later that day or the next day, NOT in the original Q post. The xmas pics person was not Q and never claimed to be Q, BUT the xmas pics poster did tell us that Q was legit. But it wasn't an explicit confirmation. It was more like, yes, there are now people on the inside who will challenge the old ruling order, that there are people within Trump/Bannon's orbit who do want to actually make changes in Washington, and that the original Q post seemed to be at least correctly familiar with what was going on in that particular scene. So, this gave us all a whiff that there was something of substance here beyond typical 4chan shenanigans.
From there, it took off like wildfire. It was a perfect storm sort of thing, triggering a lot of confirmation bias, etc. Q posts started coming in non-stop. And, of course, they quickly became more and more insane. And, the way 4chan works, nobody actually knows if any subsequent Q posts were written by the original Q. Some tried to imitate the style/voice of the original, and many were clearly just people goofing around. It's very possible that the original Q never posted again ever. Suddenly, everybody was Q. They called it Q-posting. It was just a giddy sort of fun. Also, part of the culture of /pol/ is to say and "prove" the most outlandish possible things - the more ridiculous the claim, and the more flimsy and circumstantial the "evidence," the better. And when some hapless goof would come along and try to push back against the veracity of our claims, we would double and triple and quadruple down. That was the game. To this day, one of my friend groups constantly jokes about adrenochrome, the more outlandish the better. Are you aware that fear improves the purity and potency of adrenochrome production? That's why the missing kids are tortured and raped and kept alive in underground facilities. . .
This was all fun and games while it was contained on /pol/. The problem is that 4chan, and ESPECIALLY /pol/, culture is near impenetrable to outsiders. It's so many inside jokes and layers of irony and tongue-in-cheek. Normal people living normal lives are just not mentally equipped to even begin to comprehend this stuff. . .
Is there another example of a big conspiracy theory that started as an inside joke?
The answer: Yes. In fact, I covered this in Chapter One of my first book, Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form (2012). The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (one of the main texts used by the Nazis to justify the Holocaust) began as a satire entitled Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, which was written by Maurice Joly and published in France in 1865. If you want to read a clear, concise account of how Joly’s work was hijacked by the Nazis and transformed into one of the most effective propaganda tools in modern history, I highly recommend Will Eisner’s 2005 nonfiction graphic novel, The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Léo Taxil’s Les Mystères de la Franc-Maçonnerie, which was published in France a couple of decades after Joly’s book, attributed all kinds of outrageously lurid and supernatural-tinged sex crimes to the Freemasons. Taxil intended the book to be a satire on the extreme paranoia running rampant among devout Catholics regarding any “unorthodox” group not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
More recently, in the latter half of the twentieth century, we have the case of Leonard Lewin’s Report from Iron Mountain (1967), which satirized the extremes to which the U.S. government might go to keep the war machine churning even during times of peace. In the book, a fictional government task force called “Iron Mountain 15” dreams up various methods of “invisible warfare” in order to keep the economy on an even keel, including staging terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and elaborately faking invasions from outer space.
Of course, it’s possible that the QAnon phenomenon began as satire as well. If so, somebody very quickly realized how useful this “joke” could be and decided to exploit it as a readymade propaganda tool. It’s also possible that QAnon was generated from the very beginning as a means to divide the country, sow seeds of fear and paranoia among the populace, and propel Trump back into the White House. If the latter function was its central goal, it did not succeed; however, one should be concerned about how very close it came to doing precisely that.
Here’s an excerpt from a November 10, 2020 Washington Post article by Drew Harwell and Craig Timberg:
Rita Katz, the executive director of SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism, said she expects the QAnon following will continue to grow online, regardless of who created or operated its presence online.
“It’s a dangerous network. It’s a dangerous movement that truly believes that Biden and other Democrats are killing kids,” Katz said. “And now, with Biden’s projected victory, the QAnon movement believes with the same zealous certainty that the whole thing is a sham. And that’s a major problem, because . . . these aren’t a bunch of harmless keyboard warriors—they’re adherents of a movement that has resulted in real-life violence.”
The FBI said last year that QAnon and other “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” represented a major terrorism threat. Its supporters have been linked to kidnapping plots and violent threats, including in 2018, when an armed man in Arizona barricaded a bridge at the Hoover Dam with an armored truck.
QAnon followers have more recently pushed one another to keep the faith. On the far-right message board Gab, one user reposted a Q drop from June: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
For some core QAnon believers, who call themselves “digital soldiers,” the election seemed to fuel new calls for violent action in the real world.
“WAR,” one QAnon account wrote shortly after the race had been called on Saturday, in a tweet that has been retweeted more than 1,000 times. “Patriots will handle from here,” it read, alongside a “storm” emoji.13
The cognitive dissonance among the QAnon crowd has never been more pronounced than right now. Given the extreme state of denial in which these people have placed themselves, I would not have been at all surprised if, at the moment Joe Biden placed his hand on the Bible and was sworn in as the forty-sixth President of the United States, willfully blind followers like Rick Rene would take to the internet and insist, “Don’t believe the fake news, my friends! That’s not Sleepy Joe! No! That’s just a hologram! It’s really Trump in disguise! He’s been planning this all along! He’s succeeded in fooling the Deep State at last! We win! We win!”
Despite the fact that Biden has now been sworn in as President, I suspect Trump and his most ardent followers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Obviously, Trump has left the White House, but he’s not going to leave the spotlight. Thousands of U.S. citizens are convinced that Trump is the real President of the United States. I can see it now: Trump moving out of the U.S., launching his own streaming channel, and trying to govern his acolytes from some “shithole country” via Zoom, just another in a long line of would-be dictators forced to flee his country of origin in the middle of the night after a bungled coup attempt. No, the “Fake News” Era isn’t quite over yet.
So what’s the answer to this precarious situation? Is it to “deplatform” all of Trump’s followers on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube? I doubt such an authoritarian move will solve anything. When has suppressing anyone’s point of view, whether inaccurate or not, solved any problem?
In the words of Kate Ruane, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU:
For months, President Trump has been using social media platforms to seed doubt about the results of the election and to undermine the will of voters. We understand the desire to permanently suspend him now, but it should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions—especially when political realities make those decisions easier. President Trump can turn to his press team or Fox News to communicate with the public, but others—like many Black, Brown, and LGTBQ activists who have been censored by social media companies—will not have that luxury. It is our hope that these companies will apply their rules transparently to everyone.14
Ask yourself: When has suppression ever resulted in the weakening of any movement? Can you name a time when slamming a boot down on an idea didn’t end up making that idea even more resilient? At what time in history have religious fanatics not loved martyrs? Suppression only makes the extremists even more convinced that their point of view is the correct one. “Otherwise, how come the Democrat-controlled media’s trying so hard to crack down on us?!” “Rick B2T” is saying exactly those words on his podcast even as I write this. It surprises me, perhaps more so recently, when otherwise rational adults—supporters of the First Amendment in almost all other circumstances—refuse to see the inevitable result of censorious stratagems like this.
In fact, it causes me to wonder if someone, somewhere, doesn’t have a vested interest in making certain that the flames of extremism don’t die out in America quite so quickly. After all, why let an angry mob filled with unthinking extremists go to waste?
The most workable solution, of course, is to push back against lies with truth. Despite the seemingly impenetrable madness of QAnon, the cracks in the psyop are growing wider by the second.
As one QAnon proponent wrote on 8kun, not long after Election Day, “HOW CAN I SPEAK TO Q???? MY FAITH IS SHAKEN. I FOLLOWED THE PLAN. TRUMP LOST!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT NOW?????? WHERE IS THE PLAN???”15
Sorry, my friend. “THE PLAN” has run out of funds. Team QAnon has moved on to other assignments. You need to power this live action roleplaying game on your own steam now. Someone needs to step up and take the reins, right? It might as well be you. Wrack your brains. Think about it. What other innocent people can you stalk and harass online, then in the real world, with baseless accusations while telling yourself you’re doing it all for Mom, God, and Apple Pie? The Earth has no shortage of vulnerable targets. Just go looking for one or two or three. You’ll be sure to find them.
As long as the potential targets far outnumber the larping stalkers, your chosen profession will be secure for the foreseeable future.
No matter which scarecrow occupies the White House.
“I am a Romantic by nature and a gambler by instinct—and I can tell you for sure, little Xania, that Losing goes with the territory in my business. All gamblers lose regularly, but they rarely discuss it in public. Losing is bad for the image, dude. Nobody buys Hot Tips from Losers. Remember that.”
—Hunter S. Thompson, Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness, 2004
“[N]ow that QAnon was involved in violent sedition, the national security state is paying attention. Arrests of people caught on camera storming the Capitol have already begun. Prosecutions will follow. Big tech companies—who, while powerful, are weaker than, and have a healthy fear of the government—are now treating QAnon almost like how they treat ISIS. A giant federal apparatus built to fight al Qaeda will shift some capacity to fighting you, especially the white nationalist and anti-government militias in your orbit.
“You cheered on lawyers who said they’d release the Kraken. But now you’ve poked Leviathan.
“This is what you need to absorb: QAnon and ‘stop the steal’ are forever associated with a violent attack against the United States. Maybe that’s not what it’s meant to you, maybe you think that’s a misread of last week’s events, but that’s how the real Deep State, a lot of elected officials, and much of the public sees it.
“If that isn’t what you signed up for, now would be a good time to get out.”
—Nicholas Grossman, Arc Digital, “QAnon Woke Up the Real Deep State: An Open Letter to QAnon, ‘Stop the Steal,’ and Other Communities Involved in the Capitol Attack,” 1-11-21
“After the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, 139 Republican members of the House and eight members of the Senate, led by Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, came out of hiding to vote to object to the electoral college vote count. While a police officer lay dying, they supported Trump’s lie of a stolen election and embraced the insurrectionists’ cause.
“Imagine the events of the past weeks and months if someone like Hawley had been the secretary of state in Georgia, or someone like retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn held a significant military command. Imagine what would have happened if the Republicans held majorities in both houses of Congress and could have overturned the electoral college results. Imagine if the courts had been more generously stocked with judges willing to entertain the Trump campaign’s ludicrous arguments.
“Above all, imagine if the president had been a bit more competent, a bit more strategic, a bit more daring. Hitler, after all, was at least willing to be present at the violence his words inspired. He was also more persuasive in his dealings with important officials.
“It is much more common for democracies to be undermined by seemingly legal actions taken from within than by violence from without.”
—Benjamin Carter Hett, Los Angeles Times, “The Trump Insurrection Was America’s Beer Hall Putsch,” 1-16-21
Special thanks to Eric Blair, Catherine Bottolfson McCallum, Mason Boyer, Eric A. Johnson, Randy Koppang, Clint Margrave, John Oakes, Dale Peck, George Porcari, Adam Sayne, Steve Snider, and Serfeil Stevenson for their valuable assistance and encouragement.
1 Kyle Cheney and Sarah Ferris, “Dems Demand Details of ‘Suspicious’ Capitol Visitors Day Before Attack,” Politico, Jan. 12, 2021 (accessed Jan. 21, 2021). Available at: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/12/mikie-sherrill-capitol-hill-attack-458655.
2 Kyle Mantyla, “Conspiracy Theorist Cirsten Weldon Claims Trump Has Been Targeted for Assassination ‘Over 50’ Times and Will Be Targeted Again in July,” RightWingWatch.org, June 22, 2020 (accessed Mar. 7, 2021). Available at: https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/conspiracy-theorist-cirsten-weldon-claims-trump-has-been-targeted-for-assassination-over-50-times-and-will-be-targeted-again-in-july/.
3 “Gene Decode #30 DUMBS and Trumps Nesara,” Jan. 16, 2021 (accessed Mar. 7, 2021). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UWVdLPgiZA.
4 “Hold the Line!. Gene DUMBs Update. B2T Show Jan 20, 2021,” Blessed2Teach.com, Jan. 20, 2021 (accessed Jan. 21, 2021). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAj4Ktu1mCs.
5 “Gene Decode! Africa Underground Bases: Mpumalanga, Limpopo. B2T Show Mar 4, 2021,” Blessed2Teach.com, Mar. 4, 2021 (accessed Mar. 4, 2021). Available at: https://blessed2teach.com/gene-decode-africa-underground-bases-mpumalanga-limpopo-b2t-show-mar-4-2021-is-2/.
6 Katelyn Polantz, “Sidney Powell Argues in New Court Filing That No Reasonable People Would Believe Her Election Fraud Claims,” CNN, March 23, 2021 (accessed march 29, 2021). Available at: https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/22/politics/sidney-powell-dominion-lawsuit-election-fraud/index.html.
7 “Take Our Country Back! 2nd Amendment Attack. B2T Show, Wed Mar 24, 2021,” iHeart.com, Mar. 24, 2021 (accessed Mar. 30, 2021). Available at: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-blessed2teach-77149916/episode/take-our-country-back-2nd-amendment-80145503.
8 Cheryl Teh, “An HBO Filmmaker May Have Uncovered the Identity of ‘Q,’ the Shady Figure Behind QAnon,” Business Insider, Apr. 5, 2021 (accessed May 2, 2021). Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/hbo-filmmaker-may-have-uncovered-potential-identity-of-q-qanon-2021-4.
9 Eric Hananoki, “Trump Touted the Endorsement of an Unhinged QAnon Conspiracy Theorist and Birther,” Media Matters, Oct. 6, 2020 (accessed May 2, 2021). Available at: https://www.mediamatters.org/qanon-conspiracy-theory/trump-touted-endorsement-paul-e-vallely-unhinged-qanon-conspiracy-theorist.
10 Olivia Messer, “Mesa College Fires Professor Who Promoted QAnon Conspiracy Theory,” Daily Beast, Sep. 17, 2019 (accessed May 2, 2021). Available at: https://www.thedailybeast.com/mesa-college-fires-professor-who-promoted-qanon-conspiracy-theory.
11 James Crowley, “Viral Video Shows Teacher Claiming Antifa, Not Trump Supporters, Stormed the Capitol,” Newsweek, Jan. 14, 2021 (accessed May 2, 2021). Available at: https://www.newsweek.com/teacher-antifa-trump-supporters-viral-video-stormed-capitol-1561699.
12 Nina Agrawal, “Chapman University Will Not Fire Law Professor Who Spoke at Pro-Trump Capitol Rally,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 13, 2021 (accessed May 2, 2021). Available at: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-13/chapman-university-will-not-fire-john-eastman.
13 Drew Harwell and Craig Timberg, "‘My Faith Is Shaken’: The QAnon Conspiracy Theory Faces a Post-Trump Identity Crisis,” The Washington Post, Nov. 11, 2020 (accessed Nov. 13, 2020). Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/11/10/qanon-identity-crisis/.
14 Natalie Colarossi, “ACLU Counsel Warns of ‘Unchecked Power’ of Twitter, Facebook After Trump Suspension,” Newsweek, Jan. 9, 2021 (accessed Jan. 11, 2021). Available at: https://www.newsweek.com/aclu-counsel-warns-unchecked-power-twitter-facebook-after-trump-suspension-1560248.
Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University – Long Beach. Among other books, he is author of Until the Last Dog Dies (Night Shade/Skyhorse), a darkly satirical novel, and Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction and Homeland Security (OR Books), which Flavorwire called “by many miles the [year’s] weirdest and funniest book.”
Ken Weaver is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. His paintings, drawings and photography focus on trauma in all of its manifestations. Weaver’s Dreamweapon series is an attempt to pull back the flesh, exposing the brutal underbelly of today's psychotic/neurotic parts of American culture: the artist’s own American exorcism.