by Paul Ratner
What is QAnon? The mainstream is finding out.
(Credit: Fox News / @SalHernandez / Twitter)
Trump is often at the nexus of
conspiracy theories, some of his own making and some promoted by
both his supporters and opponents.
The latest such
conspiracy suddenly materialized for the public during Trump's rally
in Tampa, Florida on July 31st when followers of a
strange internet phenomenon known as
QAnon made their presence known.
QAnon is a person or group on the Internet that attracted followers
mistrust the media and regard facts where Donald Trump is
wrong about something as proof of devious plots against him.
According to The Washington Post,
a thread on the anonymous image-board 8chan (where QAnon
"requests" are posted) described "Q" as,
"an anonymous user
claiming to be a government agent with top security clearance,
waging war against the so-called
Deep State in service to the
"Q" has apparently been posting on various Internet forums like
4chan and 8chan since October 2017.
As recent events
show, the influence of this figure has spread far and wide through
During the Trump rally in Tampa's Florida State Fairgrounds Expo
Hall the followers of "Q" were quite visible, wearing t-shirts with
"Q" on them as well as waving signs reading "We are Q".
In fact, t-shirts
referencing "Q" have become frequent at Trump rallies.
"People lining up for the Trump rally in Tampa today.
A lot of the chan anons might treat Q-Anon like a LARP,
but by all appearances there are plenty of people
who take it seriously irl."
Travis View (@travis_view)
July 31, 2018
In April, hundreds of QAnon adherents marched in downtown
Washington D.C., demanding "transparency" from the Justice
In June, an armed man in
an armored truck he made himself
shut down the highway near the
Hoover Dam while complaining about Trump not locking up everyone he
promised and referencing QAnon.
The man now faces
Members of QAnon create written and video content that peddles
easily disproven and yet persistent conspiracy theories like calling
Parkland massacre survivors "actors" or claiming some Hollywood
celebrities like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are
Liberal icons like,
...are seen as working on
a coup to wrestle power away from the president while they
One of the most elaborate
theories has Trump actually pretending to collude with the Russians
just to have an excuse for the special counsel Robert Mueller
to be hired.
In fact, the theory goes
on to claim, Mueller is actually a "white hat" hero who is working
to expose the evil Democrats.
"Q" feeds the disciples called "anons" or "bakers" bits of
intelligence, or "breadcrumbs," that they put together into an
understanding of the coming "storm," which is when the president
will finally vanquish the elites, globalists and the deep state.
The term "storm" actually
came to the community from Trump's mysterious reference in 2017 to "the
calm before the storm".
Here's an example of a "breadcrumb" from "Q" as shared by
the Daily Beast:
"No Name" in the example above refers to John McCain, while
"SC" stands for the Supreme Court.
What does it all mean?
That's the kind of question QAnon followers concern themselves with.
In the QAnon discussions, the usual suspects of conspiracy theories
loom large as well; you will hear about,
reports are called "Operation
Mockingbird," referring to a CIA operation in the 1950s
to infiltrate the American media for propaganda purposes.
Of many bizarre influences (which range from apocalyptic to fascist)
the work of the film director Francis Ford Coppola also crops up.
Followers also cling to
the number 17 as an important signal, as "Q" is the 17th
letter of the alphabet.
Conspiracists look for
signs of it, believing it to be a way Trump can communicate with
them in public.
...This is a terrible
situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this
Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our
country any further.
Bob Mueller is
totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing
his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!
August 1, 2018
Where is this
The purpose of it all...?
QAnon followers are to
understand information periodically released by "Q" in order to
bring forth a christian revival...
This will come during a "Great
Awakening" that will precede the storm predicted by Trump during
which all the evil people will be defeated and sent to Guantanamo
QAnon followers also have a telling slogan,
"Where we go one, we
go all," which they abbreviate to "WWG1WGA."
Roseanne Barr, of
course, waded into QAnon waters by appearing to endorse QAnon
theories on child sex abuse and has tried to make contact with Q,
while retweeting Q-related messages.
The former baseball great
turned rightwing commentator Curt Schilling also spreads Q-themed
thoughts on his social media.
Here's a popular video espousing a QAnon worldview:
Is QAnon just the latest incarnation of the
#Pizzagate conspiracy theory that
led a gunman to open fire at a restaurant in Washington D.C. in
At this point, it could
really be anyone who is behind this persona:
a troll, Russia, a
member of the Trump administration or just some bored Hollywood
The disturbing reality is that what are clearly
flights of fancy end up believed by a portion of the population.
What's more, fantasy can become real for some people as a growing
spate of incidents shows, including an
attempt to intimidate Michael
Avenatti, the lawyer for the adult film actress
who is embroiled in a scandal with President Trump.
Pictures of Avenatti's
building were posted on QAnon boards, showing a man standing there
as if indicating,
'we know where you are and can get to you'.
The QAnon community's disregard for the agreed-upon-facts in favor
of a stubbornly pro-Trump narrative also has some features in common
As the cult expert
the main feature of a
cult is when its members display,
zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader, and
(whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system,
ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law."
You start to get a cult
when truth and important details get swept up in favor of an
overarching personality-driven story.
Of course, for QAnon to become a proper cult it would need a leader
and it is currently very unclear who is really behind this
Is QAnon just an online conspiracy of a fringe element, a
master-trolling effort, or a memetic virus that is spreading with
cult-like features and affecting more and more people on the right?
That's the trillion
dollar question in a world where the line between patently false
conspiracy theories and what is really taking place is becoming
blurred for a growing number of people.
You can see some video from the Tampa rally in this clip