I keep thinking I am done with this topic not because it’s over, but because I’m tired of talking about it. But even worse than endlessly parsing it is discovering new details — details that invariably make the situation exponentially worse.
Today, Joe Biden is being inaugurated. Yesterday, I was told with absolute certainty that he would not be.
Yesterday, I was told the Trump administration was about to act with an enormous string of arrests and indictments; that the military was being mobilized to deal with the burning cities that would follow. I was told Jeffery Epstein was still alive, having turned government witness to countless child sex crimes committed by the Clintons, ranking Democrats, leftist donors and Hollywood celebrities on his private sex island in the Bahamas. I was told Trump would be outlining most of this in a national address that would only be carried by outlets like Newsmax but the time for the address came and went with nothing. My source shrugged and said, “fake news.” I didn’t even try to point out that this information came exclusively from the right side, not the mainstream media, not from anywhere out from behind the Great Right Wall.
I’ve been hearing all this for months but yesterday, the source was different. Yesterday, I found out someone very close to me is deeply entangled in the QAnon conspiracy cult. This isn’t a close friend or a family member in my household. It’s someone who’s been tied to me since birth. So it’s very, very personal.
If you’re unfamiliar with the QAnon cult, it’s a so outrageously surreal that I still have trouble believing it’s claimed as many victims as it has.. Boasting all the hallmarks of a traditional cult, the movement is an idolatrous call to dangerous action cloaked in false-moral urgency to combat escalating peril to our country. The QAnon cult (pronounced CUE-a-non) seizes current people and events, stringing them together, tying unrelated pieces with a cartoonishly complex, menacing threat lurking behind it all. Because the events are current, everything is timely. Because the cult preys on right wing fears, it is frightening and urgent. The orchestrators of this great menace are people like George Soros, Hilary Clinton and Bill Gates who are working around the clock to wipe out the United States and create one world government. Since this narrative neatly fits with Biblical prophesy, a Christian legitimacy underscores the urgency and lends a false holy calling to the mission. There’s just enough half-truth and uncertainty to get the ball rolling.
I hesitate to describe the cult itself because it sounds utterly implausible. But if it sounds ridiculous, that’s unfortunately because it is. According to Wikipedia, QAnon is a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of Satan-worshiping cannibalistic pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against President Trump, who is fighting the cabal. The QAnon phenomenon — and it truly is a phenomenon — has suckered in countless conservatives who are genuinely fearful about where the country is heading. These conservatives are mostly fairly recent converts, joining the long-term Kook-Aid drinkers behind the Great Right Wall sometime around the spring primaries in the 2020 election.
Wikipedia goes on to say: QAnon claims Trump is planning a day of reckoning known as “The Storm,” when thousands of members of the cabal will be arrested. Supporters claim Trump feigned conspiracy with the Russians to enlist Robert Mueller to join him in exposing the sex trafficking ring and preventing a coup d’état by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros. The QAnon conspiracy theories have been amplified by Russian state-backed troll accounts on social media as well as Russian state-backed traditional media. Without question, the message reached its intended audience.
But the last day for Trump to act was yesterday.
Everything I listed above is the tip of a very dirty iceberg. The rest of the conspiracies are the most convoluted, fantastical, awful, unbelievable fantasy — the product of some very dark minds. Unfortunately, a huge battalion of Christian warriors now truly believe they’re saving the rest of is from this unspeakable evil. They feel pity for those of us on the sunlit side of the Great Right Wall, firmly convinced we’re the ones being duped.
What’s going to happen today when our new president takes the reins?
I had an idea in my head, an image of the type of person who falls into the fictional intrigue that is the QAnon cult. It was a sort of retiree insurance agent or mechanic who was conservative, bored, Rush Limbaugh fan, conservative talk radio on all day. But the person close to me is a guy who owns luxury houses in several states and splits his time between them. He’s well-traveled and not easily duped. But he went so far down this rabbit hole that he and I can’t really even talk about it — the QAnon acolytes speak their own nonsensical language.
So what now? I hope with every ounce of my being that QAnon will fall apart when none of their predictions came true, when none of their accusations panned out. I hope the worst thing we have to deal with is a bunch of sheepish people who are rightly embarrassed they were so badly fooled. I hope President Biden and his party will extend an olive branch to those willing to come out from behind the Great Right Wall.
But I also know human nature and this could well be the start of a never-seen level of polarization and fracture.
Again, I say God help us.
[Disclaimer: For what it’s worth, I agonized over writing this but ultimately decided I had a responsibility to put it into words. Further, I am a Christian — an Anglican Catholic — and I remain a registered Republican but for how much longer, I can’t say. I neither wish to insult people of my faith nor to discount the principles to which we subscribe.]
Photograph © Wesley Tingey via Unsplash