Which part of this strikes you as wrong?: As usual, your incomparable Daily Howler just keeps banging out those results.
This morning, at this site's request, the New York Times explains QAnon. For whatever reason, Kevin Roose's detailed report appears on the first page of the newspaper's Business section.
At any rate, Roose presents a detailed report about QAnon. He starts by setting the scene:
ROOSE (8/19/20): If you’re spending a lot of time online these days—and thanks to the pandemic, many of us are—you’ve probably heard of QAnon, the sprawling internet conspiracy theory that has taken hold among some of President Trump’s supporters.Based on what we showed you yesterday, we'd say that QAnon seems to have taken hold of quite a few Trump supporters. That makes QAnon especially useful as a way to study false and crazy belief—as a way to ponder the ability of members of our species to fall for both the crazy and the wrong.
But unless you’re very online, you likely still have questions about what exactly is going on.
QAnon is an incredibly convoluted theory, and you could fill an entire book explaining its various tributaries and sub-theories. But here are some basic things you should know.
Roose calls QAnon a "conspiracy theory"—one which is "incredibly convoluted." How crazy are its adherents' beliefs? Roose starts off like this:
ROOSE (continuing directly): QAnon is the umbrella term for a sprawling set of internet conspiracy theories that allege, falsely, that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Mr. Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.We know what you're thinking! You're thinking there's just no way a guy like Tom Hanks would ever do something like that!
QAnon followers believe that this clique includes top Democrats including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros, as well as a number of entertainers and Hollywood celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres and religious figures including Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. Many of them also believe that, in addition to molesting children, members of this group kill and eat their victims in order to extract a life-extending chemical from their blood.
According to QAnon lore, Mr. Trump was recruited by top military generals to run for president in 2016 in order to break up this criminal conspiracy, end its control of politics and the media, and bring its members to justice.
Tom Hanks would never be dumb enough to eat his victims because he thought he could thereby "extract a life-extending chemical from their blood!" There's just no way he'd be that dumb.
That's probably what you thought.
Already, you see one of the problems with reporting or discussing this extremely peculiar topic. By any normal reckoning, the beliefs which define this "theory" take us very far into the realm of what seems to be The Crazy.
Indeed, the detailed beliefs are so crazy that it becomes hard to take this phenomenon seriously. We may tend to joke about it, or to think that reporting like Roose's must be based on some type of misunderstanding.
Anthropologically, the human brain isn't inclined to accept so deep an insult to our most fundamental belief systems. We've long been told—it's part of a basic framework of understanding—that "man [sic] is the rational animal."
According to anthropologists, that formulation by Aristotle was the original crazy claim, at least in the way the claim has widely been understood.
Man [sic] is the rational animal, Aristotle is said to have said. But uh-oh! Several thousand years later, along came a wave of new technologies—and with them, QAnon. How does your blue-eyed boy look now? as Cummings once almost said.
You're going to find that people will have a hard time dealing with discussions of QAnon. You'll find that people will have an even harder time when we start to ask a related question:
Is there any chance that we self-impressed liberals, Over Here in our tents, are also involved in widespread adherence to beliefs which are crazy or wrong?
Many people will have a hard time processing such a suggestion! For today, let's pull another excerpt from Roose's detailed explainer—an excerpt in which Roose explains how this "theory" ever got started:
ROOSE: In October 2017, a post appeared on 4chan, the notoriously toxic message board, from an anonymous account calling itself “Q Clearance Patriot.” This poster, who became known simply as “Q,” claimed to be a high-ranking intelligence officer with access to classified information about Mr. Trump’s war against the global cabal.By conventional reckoning, you have to be batshit crazy out of your head to believe in this "theory." But Roose goes on to say that millions of people are now part of the QAnon family.
Q predicted that this war would soon culminate in “The Storm”—an appointed time when Mr. Trump would finally unmask the cabal, punish its members for their crimes and restore America to greatness.
It’s a reference to a cryptic remark Mr. Trump made during an October 2017 photo op. Posing alongside military generals, Mr. Trump said, “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”
QAnon believers pointed to this moment as proof that Mr. Trump was sending coded messages about his plans to break up the global cabal, with the help of the military.
Indeed, believers are now being elected to Congress, sent there by QAnon votes.
For today, we'll merely suggest that you read Roose's report. We'll also urge this one point on you:
Journalists will be reluctant to explore the meaning of this craziness. Indeed, similar examples of The Crazy have been floating around, and have been influential, for decades now:
We've already mentioned the many murders the Clintons were accused of committing. In the broader cultural realm, how about the preschool sex abuse fantasies of the 1980s, or possibly all the missing kids who appeared on all those milk cartons? Were the overwrought beliefs at the heart of those events just part of The Crazy too?
Thanks to the rise of modern technologies, it's now extremely easy to spread crazy ideas and claims. As a result, we the people are confronted with crazy claims to a degree without precedent in the past.
In large part thanks to those new technologies, spreading The Crazy is now big business. In the process, we're learning a very important fact:
We humans often have a very hard time spotting The Crazy. In many cases, our basic powers of discernment are just amazingly bad.
QAnon seems to be largely an act of The Crazy among Trump supporters. In our view, it's important to come to terms with the basic craziness of this emerging development—with its ominous suggestions about the possible future of public discourse.
For the most part, QAnon is happening Over There. Before too long, we'll be asking this:
QAnon seems to be part of The Crazy. How good a job are we liberals doing when it comes to spotting The Wrong?
Tomorrow: Instantly spreading The Crazy concerning Nominee Harris