QAnon conspiracy theories are so absurd they’d be laughable, if not for the danger they pose and the surprising number of people who are gullible enough to believe them.
While QAnon started with a fringe online following, its patently false core tenet — that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles operates a global child sex-trafficking ring and is plotting against President Donald Trump — has gained a significant following among some Trump supporters.
More than 150,000 QAnon-affiliated groups have proliferated on Facebook, with some attracting more than 100,000 members. An NBC News analysis in August found these QAnon groups, collectively, had millions of members.
And QAnon’s influence is leaking into the offline world.
Indiana is not immune. Last Sunday in Anderson, about 50 demonstrators marched to call attention to the problem of child sex trafficking. While the couple who organized the demonstration downplayed any connection to QAnon, a hashtag hijacked by the movement — #SaveOurChildren — was used to congeal support for the event.
Several marchers carried signs either promoting QAnon or using slogans from the movement, such as #WWG1WGA, which stands for “Where we go one, we go all.”
In an interview with a reporter, one of the marchers testified to her belief in a particularly ludicrous QAnon theory holding that celebrities torture young children to harvest a chemical compound called adrenochrome. The celebrities then use the compound, according to the preposterous notion, to gain “youth and euphoria.”
QAnon targets celebrities, falsely placing Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama and other political, entertainment and religious figures in a fictional underworld of Satan worshipers.
The QAnon narrative portrays Trump as America’s savior from the global conspiracy. Rather than denouncing the farcical movement, the president has sought to capitalize on it. He’s shared dozens of social media posts from QAnon supporters, describing them as “people that love our country” during a White House press briefing.
Trump has used the term “future Republican star” to describe Marjorie Taylor Greene, an avowed QAnon supporter who won a GOP congressional primary in Georgia and is considered a shoe-in to win November’s general election in her conservative district.
Beyond spreading malicious lies, QAnon poses the danger of emboldening people to act violently to stop the monstrous conspiracies it concocts.
The FBI has identified QAnon as a potential domestic terror threat after one QAnon adherent was charged with the murder of a New York mafia boss last year. Another QAnon believer was arrested in the spring after, allegedly, threatening to kill Joe Biden, now the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.
Whether they support Trump or Biden in the presidential election, Hoosiers everywhere should recognize the danger posed by QAnon. They should join together in denouncing its farcical conspiracy theories.