Opinion | Susan Knopf: What is QAnon and why should you care?
For the record
What is QAnon and why should you care?
QAnon is a conspiracy theory promulgated by Trump devotees, who believe there is a deep state cabal afoot, and Trump will sweep government criminals (Democrats) out of office and lock them up in Guantanamo. NBC News reports the movement claims the government cult eats children, collects children’s blood to give officials a more youthful appearance and that the government created AIDS.
They have YouTube channels, online boards, blogs and their own best-selling book on Amazon, “QAnon, An Invitation, The Great Awakening,” by WWG1WGA. WWG1WGA is the acronym for their motto, “Where We Go One We Go All.” The book claims to be the collaborative effort of 12 authors/contributors and citizen journalists.
It sounds like a joke. I urge you to go to the digital edition of this column and follow the links. I think you will freak out, laugh you head off or both. In his June 19, 2018 article, Daily Beast writer Will Sommer called the QAnon theory Byzantine. I think that insults the Byzantines, who created beautiful art and architecture that endures to this day. I’d say it’s more like the 1969 famed Beatle “Paul is dead” hoax.
The concept is there is a person in the White House, close to Donald Trump, with a Q level security clearance. Every agency has its own security designations. I know someone with a Q level clearance. It was issued by the Department of Energy, and has to do with knowledge of nuclear power and our nuclear arsenal. I could find no reference to a Q clearance in any other department that issues security credentials. I think it’s more likely someone is perpetrating a hoax and using Q as an homage to James Bond’s handler.
Q posts tidbits that followers call “breadcrumbs.” Interpreters of these hints are called “bakers.” Frankly the bits seem half-baked, and I suspect the bakers are fully baked. Here’s a sample.
MSM coming – BIG WAY.
We see all.
We hear all.
FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT.
Conspiracy push coming.
MSM LOST CONTROL.
D LOST SLAVE GRIP.
D LOST CENTER VOTERS
LIBS are MINORITY
MSM PROJECTS AS BIG MOVEMENT.
FAKE NEWS. 4-6% LOST FOREVER.
FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT,
FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT.”
Please don’t ask me what it means. I like to bake chicken and banana muffins, not at the same time. I don’t do “breadcrumbs.” Nostradamus seems like a better writer to me.
Many of the authors of the best-selling QAnon book use anonymous, concealed monikers. Some use their real identities. One such writer, Lori Colley has her own YouTube channel. She claims to have nearly 15,000 followers. In her chapter, she states John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, was a top player in the attempted coup to oust Trump. Was there an attempted coup and I missed it? How could I miss that? Was it in the Summit Daily? CNN? Yeah, I don’t think so.
Colley knows for sure Q is the real deal because sycophantic followers asked the president to include the phrase “tip top” in his Jan. 30, 2018, State of the Union address. Trump used the phrase on April 2, 2018, at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. He thanked the first lady and the White House Historical Society and said, “We keep the (White House) in ‘tip-top’ shape. Sometimes we call it tippy-top shape.” He was saying this while standing next to a big white rabbit. Colley says later that evening Q posted “Tip Top Tippy Top Shape. It was requested. Did you listen today?” Colley said, “That did it for me.” That did it for me too. You people need serious help. Oh that’s right, Trump is trying to dismantle our health care.
Colley said she knows it’s real because mainstream media is making a big fuss about the movement. Colley said, “Why make a ruckus about something that isn’t real? If the movement is a hoax, it will die on its own.” Have you heard about the movement? I hadn’t either. So I think it’s fair to say that while I did find coverage of QAnon, I’d hardly call it adequate press, much less a “ruckus.” Still I think it’s dangerous.
QAnon is symptomatic of what appears to be a hardening of hearts against mainstream media. I’m not saying the press is without its faults. I am saying a free press is the soul of democracy. It’s terrifying that instead of reading, watching and listening to trained journalists, these people are spending hours poring over internet posts debating “breadcrumbs.” They’d be better served seeking verifiable facts, which are pretty easy to find on the internet these days.
Why is QAnon dangerous? Propaganda is dangerous. It’s as dangerous as Jonestown. Jonestown is where we get the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid,” meaning misguided followers. (By the way, according to Forbes, Jim Jones used Flavor-Aid.)
Misguided followers are at the heart of many acts of violence, at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, just to name a few.
For the record, these misguided movements don’t often die out on their own, as Colley suggests. Rather these movements can grow like contagions, poisoning the minds of people searching for the answer in a world of competing ideas. The Ku Klux Klan didn’t just die out; Nazism didn’t just die out. These bad ideas spread like wildfire, did horrific damage and had to be fought. Much innocent blood was spilled.
QAnon writers might seem silly. What could be sillier than men running around at night wearing bed sheets? How about Germany, then the most progressive democracy in the world, electing a former convict with a silly mustache and then dismantling their entire information apparatus in favor of Nazi propaganda? Sounds a lot like our president, a man surrounded by convicted felons, who talks about “fake news.”
Susan Knopf is a Summit County resident who writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News. She has won awards from the Associated Press and United Press International for her news reporting.
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