Of all the conspiracies of which President Trump has been a party to, a proponent of, and disseminated the QAnon conspiracy is probably the most interesting and the deepest. QAnon is one of the most interesting online movements where Trump is right in the middle of the whole thing.

Editor’s Note:
It is with great trepidation that we decide to post about QAnon and the QAnon conspiracy. In this day and age of internet conspiracies, underground communities, and dark web trolls even the most prestigious of organizations have to think carefully about what to say about these things. In this article, we are going to talk about QAnon based on our own observations and a deep reading of major media reportage on QAnon. Nothing we say is meant to be inflammatory against those who believe in QAnon. We are not here to discount Q or President Trump. Anyone who reads our politics desk will know that we are a mainstream/center-left publication where all voices (even conservative voices) can and should be heard. We have attempted to describe QAnon to the best of our ability while not making any judgment on QAnon. We offer our own opinion at the end of this piece and it should be taken in the spirit of positive intention.

QAnon? What?

Q or QAnon (anon because of the anonymous online posting status) began posting simple green text posts on the now-defunct 8chan message board. For the uninitiated, chan sites were anonymous message boards that predate social media by over a decade. For millennials of a certain age, they were the popular place to hang out online before Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, and so on. They also created the meme. Anyway, these boards have often been the genesis of conspiracies like Pizzagate and other stories that weren’t stories until they became stories.

Q claims to be someone within the President’s inner circle. Because of their alleged closeness with the President they claim that they know things before they happen and they cryptically leak this knowledge through haiku-like posts announcing changes in policy, conflicts within the administration, firings, and so on. QAnon plays into a long-standing conspiracy within the Trump sphere: the deep state.

QAnon and others claim that within the Federal government there is a greater plot to stop President Trump from saving the United States from globalism, statism, and elitist dictatorship. There’s even implications towards Brexit on this idea. The idea that there is a global cabal who is working night and day to institute global government and that somehow the only one who can save us Donald J. Trump. Q maintains that Trump and company is doing their part of cleaning out the deep state and making deep reforms to the federal government to stop the onslaught of globalist, elitist rule by bureaucracy. Trump is valiantly fighting against these people and their abuse of children which dovetails back into Pizzagate which had the real-world implications when a shooting occurred at the pizza shop in question.

This narrative is further reinforced with memes declaring the patriotism, good-nature, and heroics of Trump and his team. They can be quite disturbing.

Part of Something Special

There is a real sense among QAnon acolytes that they are part of something special, something that only they know. The idea of privileged knowledge that isn’t generally known is common among conspiracy circles. It makes people feel special. For QAnon supporters, this feeling is amplified because it creates a special kinship with President Trump. At any Trump rally, Q merchandise can be seen dotted throughout the crowd. Online, the New York Times found that 23,000 of President Trump’s followers referenced Q in their twitter profiles.

The QAnon conspiracy is somewhat different because unlike the 9-11 truther movement, QAnon exists in the age of social media. Social media has given this movement far greater reach than even Birtherism (which Trump pushed and used to begin his political life).

There is a cult-like following of QAnon that can get fairly disturbing once you dive into the underground world. There are Youtube channels, twitter threads/accounts, and much more that regular post Q content, proofs/deltas, and other content that people study. Everything Trump does is compared against the Q content and followers will study the latest to see if they can indeed predict Trump’s next move.

Q Knows…Trump Tweets

People go the extra mile to prove that Q has special and privileged knowledge. On some sites, people will post what is called “deltas” or “proofs” and they will notice the time stamps on President Trump’s tweets to show that when Q posts something, President Trump posts it within 5 minutes or often within the same minute. Many within the community use these timestamp comparisons of proof that Q is real and their belief in Q is valid and that Q and all the rest are crusaders against statist liberals who are anti-patriotic, anti-American, and are trying to destroy the rights and freedoms of “good Americans.”

This plays into another Trump idea: there are “real Americans” and then there’s everyone else. Anyone who doesn’t subscribe to certain beliefs or a certain world view just isn’t American enough. Behind every “Make America Great Again” hat is someone who ardently believes that they are a true patriot. Patriot fetishism among Republican circles is not new but it has taken on a new, more violent, more racist turn since the 2016 election.

Political Violence

There has been a variety of violent acts that have taken place by QAnon followers. Most recently Anthony Comello killed a Gambino family crime boss for fighting against President Trump (supposedly) and participating in child trafficking. Another man stood against the FBI on the Hoover Dam demanding a release of a report about Hillary’s emails, another man destroyed an altar in a catholic church in Arizona, and still, yet another man attacked a cement plant looking for stolen children used for human trafficking. QAnon has moved people to action, violent action that has real-world consequences. This indicative of the politically charged age where a conspiracy can spread like wildfire to the right people. While in the past, these stories became the stuff of urban legend and achieved mythical status; the people who believe in such things were usually isolated. Thanks to the internet, this is no longer true. People with these kinds of ideas can easily connect and recruit others which can lead to activation and violence.

Reality or Real Bologna

It cannot be definitely said whether QAnon is or is not real or if they are a real person or not. It does not seem like they are anything other than a wonderful fiction meant to entertain a certain subgroup of people but there is no way to prove that really. Like many of these conspiracies, the truth will eventually come out but it will likely do so decades after people have moved on to something else. Q is fascinating for the cryptic way in which it is written and how seemingly insignificant and unrelated events are woven together to form a coherent narrative. Q is not the first of these and it certainly will not be the last. Each side of the great American political divide will have the narratives that make them feel special and like they can believe in something that will save them. If anything, these political narratives thrive in a world where regular people feel more disenfranchised than ever before. The Left has popular podcasts that promote dubious books an ideas as well, there just tends to be less violence these days (although that was not always the case). In a world where it seems like regular people are disempowered, the right sort of grifter can take advantage of that antipathy and turn it into something far more dangerous, perhaps that is the real lesson of QAnon.