Donald Trump emerged from the fever swamps of fringe right-wing conspiracy theories on the Internet and talk radio to become the leader of the Obama birtherism movement. Somehow this made him popular enough with Republican voters to win him the GOP nomination in 2016, and even more unbelievably the presidency.
Since then, Donald Trump and his idiot sons, as well as his campaign, has aligned himself with a more pernicious conspiracy at which he is the center of into a cult movement, if not a cult religion: QAnon. “At its most basic, it alleges that there is a secret group of elites working to get President Trump out of office and that Trump will help reveal those pedophilia and Satan-worshiping elites before they can destroy the country.”
This week, an unrepentant racist and anti-semitic bigot, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon Supporter, Wins House Primary in Georgia‘s 14th Congressional District, one of the most Republican in the country.
Marjorie Taylor Greene embraces a conspiracy theory that the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat in 2019. QAnon followers have been implicated in real-world violence, including armed standoffs, attempted kidnappings, harassment campaigns, a shooting and at least two murders — events noted by Facebook as part of its investigation, according to the documents.
The racist-in-chief in the White House, around whom this cult is centered, called Georgia GOP candidate who embraces QAnon a ‘future Republican Star’:
“Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”
In June, POLITICO uncovered videos in which Greene disparaged Black people, Muslims and Jews, prompting House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and others in the GOP to denounce the candidate for Congress in northwest Georgia.
But while high-ranking GOP officials labeled Greene’s views “appalling” and “disgusting,” the Republican Party did little to stop her Tuesday night victory.
Axios reports that “At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.”
Politico’s Playbook notes “PRIVATELY, Republicans have said they’re ashamed of this but don’t believe there’s anything they can do about it. Of course, they’re wrong — they can spend money to defeat people who espouse beliefs contrary to theirs, but they have decided not to.”
President Trump and Republican leaders’ embrace of a House candidate who has made racist statements and espoused the QAnon conspiracy theory is again highlighting the party’s willingness to tolerate extreme and bigoted positions. Trump, House Republicans embrace candidate who has made racist statements, drawing attention to party’s tolerance of bigotry:
The decision has left many House Republicans privately griping about irresponsible leadership, even as they do little publicly to challenge the party’s position or to state their opposition to Greene’s joining their conference if she is elected in November, as is expected, in a reliably Republican district.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s decision to welcome Greene into the Republican conference also comes against the backdrop of party leaders’ last year stripping Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) of his committee assignments after he publicly wondered how white nationalism and white supremacy had become “offensive.” The move followed years of pressure for the party to disown King, who lost a primary this year. Some House Republicans have been left scratching their heads over the quick acceptance of Greene.
Republicans privately acknowledge that there is no future for a party that antagonizes people of color and has members who make statements or take policy positions supported by white supremacists. But they also have done little to stand up to Trump, a president who embraces such rhetoric, and candidates who make those remarks.
Media Matters for America found that 53 congressional candidates have promoted QAnon this year.
NBC News wasn’t kidding when it suggested Congress could soon have a “QAnon caucus.
QAnon thrives on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, which has been key to QAnon’s growth. Not surprising. This is the same asshole who allowed Russian Intelligence Agencies to pay for their Facebook disinformation campaign in rubles in 2016. QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show:
An internal investigation by Facebook has uncovered thousands of groups and pages, with millions of members and followers, that support the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to internal company documents reviewed by NBC News.
The investigation’s preliminary results, which were provided to NBC News by a Facebook employee, shed new light on the scope of activity and content from the QAnon community on Facebook, a scale previously undisclosed by Facebook and unreported by the news media, because most of the groups are private.
The top 10 groups identified in the investigation collectively contain more than 1 million members, with totals from more top groups and pages pushing the number of members and followers past 3 million. It is not clear how much overlap there is among the groups.
The investigation will likely inform what, if any, action Facebook decides to take against its QAnon community, according to the documents and two current Facebook employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The company is considering an option similar to its handling of anti-vaccination content, which is to reject advertising and exclude QAnon groups and pages from search results and recommendations, an action that would reduce the community’s visibility.
An announcement about Facebook’s ultimate decision is also expected to target members of “militias and other violent social movements,” according to the documents and Facebook employees.
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There are tens of millions of active groups, a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News in 2019, a number that has probably grown since the company began serving up group posts in users’ main feeds. While most groups are dedicated to innocuous content, extremists, from QAnon conspiracy theorists to anti-vaccination activists, have also used the groups feature to grow their audiences and spread misinformation. Facebook aided that growth with its recommendations feature, powered by a secret algorithm that suggests groups to users seemingly based on interests and existing group membership.
Facebook has been studying the QAnon movement since at least June. In July, a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News that that company was investigating QAnon as part of a larger look at groups with potential ties to violence.
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Facebook’s anticipated move follows Twitter’s more aggressive action against QAnon. In July, Twitter announced it had banned 7,000 QAnon accounts for breaking its rules around platform manipulation, misinformation and harassment. Twitter also said it would no longer recommend QAnon accounts and content, would stop such content from appearing in trends and search, and would block QAnon’s internet links.
But even more disturbing is how conservative Evangelical religious types appear to be the biggest followers of QAnon. ( So much for the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” and the Second Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”).
Amanda Marcotte writes at Salon, Is QAnon the new Christian right? With evangelicals fading, a new insanity rises (excerpt):
White evangelicalism is in decline, but another movement is rising to take its place, a movement that scratches that same right-wing itch towards false piety and elaborate tribalist mythologies that are incomprehensible to outsiders: QAnon.
Yes, QAnon, the bizarre paranoid conspiracy theory that holds (more or less) that behind the scenes of observable reality lies a shadowy worldwide pedophile ring run by Democrats and prominent celebrities, and that Trump’s bizarre and self-serving authoritarian behavior is actually an elaborate ruse to hide his secret fight to destroy this elite child-abuse conspiracy.
QAnon has grown rapidly since it first emerged in 2017, morphing from an online conspiracy theory to an explosive political and cultural phenomenon, one that can probably be considered a cult — although it lacks leaders in any conventional sense. While there hasn’t been systematic research into how many Americans are QAnoners, an NBC News study earlier this month discovered that QAnon accounts on Facebook have more than 3 million followers.
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By claiming to pursue a crusade against the sexual abuse of children, QAnon gives its adherents a feeling of self-righteousness, one that allows them to ignore the reality that they support a deeply immoral and sociopathic president who is bragging about his efforts to steal the November election, and whose malicious mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed our economy and led to 166,000 deaths and millions of damaged lives. It lets them construct a story where they’re the good guys who oppose sexual exploitation, when in fact they are fiercely loyal to a man who has been credibly accused of sexual assault by two dozen women.
Evangelical Christianity played the same role for conservatives in the pre-Trump years, letting them feel holy and moral despite openly backing politicians who promoted immoral policies. But it came with a bunch of downsides, like being made to feel guilty for premarital sex, divorce or even (as Falwell Jr. found out) drinking and partying. With QAnon, you get to sleep in on Sunday and have all the sex you like, without giving up that pious assertion of moral superiority or the presumption of secret knowledge.
QAnon even swipes a central tactic from the Christian right: Focusing its concern on imaginary threats to children, while ignoring the very real threat to children (and everyone else) posed by their beliefs and actions.
With the Christian right, it’s all about melodramatic appeals that abortion supposedly “kills babies,” rhetoric that allows them to feel righteous while they undermine the services — social welfare, health care, housing and education — that allow parents to raise actual living children in safe, healthy environments.
QAnon claims to be fighting for children, but the child sex-trafficking victims they speak for are exclusively in their heads. In fact, QAnoners not only ignore the real cases of sex trafficking that exist, which have nothing to do with their conspiracy theory, but get in the way of activists who fight the real problem by clogging up phone lines, confusing their fundraising efforts, and interfering with social media campaigns. And they certainly don’t give a damn about the real-life children that Donald Trump separated from their parents and stuffed in cages along the border.
Embracing ridiculous beliefs, whether in the Rapture or in Pizzagate, seems to be a part of American right-wing DNA, perhaps because wild fantasies are the only way they can distract themselves from the real evil they do in the world. In light of that, the rise of QAnon makes sense. It’s the perfect mechanism, in Trump’s America, for conservatives to tell themselves a story about how they’re noble warriors for truth and justice in the face of overwhelming evidence that they’re not. Hardly anyone likes to face the genuinely bad things they’ve done, and QAnon provides Trump-loving conservatives a fable to justify all their dreadful choices.
Oh, it gets worse. A faction within the movement has been interpreting the Bible through QAnon conspiracies. Marc-André Argentino explains, The Church of QAnon: Will conspiracy theories form the basis of a new religious movement? (excerpt):
I have been studying the growth of the QAnon movement as part of my research into how extremist religious and political organizations create propaganda and recruit new members to ideological causes.
What I’ve witnessed is an existing model of neo-charismatic home churches — the neo-charismatic movement is an offshoot of evangelical Protestant Christianity and is made up of thousands of independent organizations — where QAnon conspiracy theories are reinterpreted through the Bible. In turn, QAnon conspiracy theories serve as a lens to interpret the Bible itself.
If you really want to get depressed about the sorry state of religion and conservative politics in America, read this research article.
I have said many times that the “Party of Lincoln” is long since dead, it’s dead carcass has been hollowed out by the fringe group parasites that invaded the host over the years. It has now become the personality cult of Donald Trump.
“The analogy would be in the same way that fire purifies the forest, it needs to be burned to the ground and fundamentally repudiated,” says Steve Schmidt, a Republican-turned-independent political strategist who now works for The Lincoln Project.