When in mid-October President Donald Trump was questioned in a televised forum about the QAnon theories – described by the FBI as a “domestic terrorist threat” – the president refused to condemn the conspiracy cult. On the contrary, he said that he did not know what it was about, but hinted that his beliefs were not harmful.
NBC journalist Savannah Guthrie had told him: “Let me ask you about QAnon. It’s about this theory that the Democrats are a satanic circle of pedophiles and that you are the savior. Now, could you, once and for all, say that this is absolutely false?
To which the president replied, “I just don’t know about QAnon… what I hear from them is that they are very against pedophilia. They fight very hard, but I don’t know anything about it, ”he added at the forum held on October 15 in Miami, Florida.
The conspiracy theories that circulated at first in a dark space of internet chats went to the most popular social networks and from there they made a leap into politics and the electoral campaign.
Today they have an impact on the race to the point of being a topic in an electoral forum.
“We are facing an extreme situation where there are people who truly believe in the absurd, that there is a democratic satanic cult that kidnaps children, rapes them and eats them. And that Trump comes out every night to rescue them, ”said attorney Joseph Malouf, analyst and political commentator.
Conspiracy theories tend their tentacles in these elections. At least two dozen congressional candidates endorse some of the beliefs of these groups, according to media watchdog Media Matters.
To understand what it is about and how they have managed to advance in the sectors, El Tiempo Latino answers some basic questions such as What is QAnon? How did it start? Who are your followers? and what do they believe?
What is QAnon?
It is a general term for a set of theories that assures that President Donald Trump fights against a secret elite of pedophiles that rules the United States in a dark world.
The central idea of all these conspiracy theories is that there is a secret elite that rules the country and that maintains a huge worldwide network of child sex trafficking. This elite includes politicians from the Democratic Party such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, actors such as Tom Hanks, businessman George Soros or television presenter Oprah Winfrey, among others. According to QAnon’s followers, President Trump, supported by a part of the Armed Forces, is waging a fight in the shadows against that elite.
How did it come about and who is “Q”?
The theory emerged in October 2017 on the internet forum 4chan, one of several message boards where people share comments on various topics without revealing their identities.
In this forum, a character / user claimed to have a security credential of the highest level in the government and claimed to know government secrets. He knew of national and international conspiracies against Trump, which he shared on 4chan and also on channel 8chan.
He identified himself as QAnon (‘Anon’ comes from ‘anonymous’). Nobody knows who Q is or if he is one person or several. What is known is that they elaborate theories of all kinds without absolutely any support that are disseminated without filter on the internet.
What do they believe in?
According to the QAnon hypotheses, Trump was recruited by generals in the higher ranks to run for the presidency in 2016 with the aim of dissolving this criminal conspiracy, ending his control of politics and the media, and finally leading his members brought to justice.
At first QAnon was a fringe phenomenon, the kind most people can easily ignore.
However, this year it has become popular. Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have been inundated with false information related to QAnon, COVID-19, for example. Followers of “Q” point out that the pandemic has been invented and use the term “plandemic.”
QAnon supporters have also tried to link to other causes of activism, such as anti-vaccine movements and campaigns against child trafficking, in an effort to grow their ranks.
His posts were banned by Facebook in August and by YouTube, while Twitter fights his hashtags. The best known of them, the # WWG1WGA (Where we go one, we go all – where we go, we all go), a way of saying that no one will be left behind.
In December 2016 a follower of the cult, from North Carolina, drove to Washington, DC on a mission to use his AR-15 rifle and free children who were allegedly prisoners of Hillary Clinton and her followers in the basement of a pizzeria.
Convinced that the complaint he read about every day on different forums was true, and that he had to do something to stop what was happening, Edgar Maddison Welch went to the pizzeria on December 4 of that year. He was armed with an AR-15 rifle, shotgun, and revolver. After driving away customers and employees, he went in search of the basement of the Comet Ping Pong store on Connecticut Avenue, but did not find any because a basement never existed.
There was a locked door, which he shot open. Seeing that it was nothing more than a deposit of old things, he turned himself in to the Police.
Trump would give them a clue
Knowledgeable on the subject. They say Trump offers tacit endorsement to QAnon supporters and has helped fuel the theory, as one of the main goals of cult supporters is to attract Trump’s attention. In an analysis that CNN made on the matter, he said “QAnon’s belief is that Trump regularly drops ‘breadcrumbs’ acknowledging them and nodding to the theory.” But as QAnon has become increasingly common, with multiple Congressional candidates in both the House and Senate championing QAnon’s conspiracy theories, Trump’s nods have become much more explicit and terrifying.
Republicans and QAnon: there are candidates for Congress
According to the online journalistic site “Politico”, the Republican Party is “forging a new alliance with QAnon.”
In fact, Vice President Mike Pence and other prominent members of the Trump campaign were scheduled to attend a fundraiser in Montana hosted by a couple who have voiced their support for QAnon. However, Pence later canceled those plans.
By Media Matters’ count, at least 86 current or past congressional candidates have endorsed or credited the conspiracy theory.
In Georgia, small business owner Marjorie Taylor Greene – who declared her admiration for QAnon in a 2017 video – is expected to win a seat, more so after her opponent withdrew.
In Colorado, another candidate, Lauren Boebert, a follower of QAnon, has a chance of winning a seat in the House of Representatives. Both women are not politicians and declare that they want to go to Congress to “stop socialism.”
State candidates also with QAnon
The Associated Press and Media Matters have also identified more than two dozen candidates for state legislatures who have expressed some interest or support for QAnon, including a Tennessee state legislator.
A recent Morning Consult poll said 38 percent of Republicans believe that at least parts of the QAnon conspiracy are true.
Conspiracy theories are an essential part of the campaign between Republicans and Democrats.
Weeks before the election, Barack Obama said sarcastically at a rally in Pennsylvania that if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected, the country would not have to worry about “the crazy things that Donald Trump and his supporters are saying.” The former president continued: “You can get on with your lives knowing that the president is not going to retweet the conspiracy theories about the secret cabals that rule the world … Think about it: the president of the United States retweeted that. What! What?!”
Trump has retweeted at least 216 QAnon posts
While the president says he does not know the group and refuses to repudiate them, QAnon followers are advancing, in part, thanks to Trump, who has retweeted at least 216 QAnon posts, as of last August, according to an analysis by Media Matters, a group non-profit surveillance.
Trump shares a tweet that casts doubt on Bin-Laden’s death
A day before the forum on NBC, Trump had retweeted a message from a person with close ties to QAnon and conspiracy theories. The tweet claimed that former President Barack Obama did not kill Osama Bin Laden in a military operation in Pakistan in 2011 and the one who died was his double.
When the journalist Guthrie pointed this out to Trump, the president claimed that it was “just a retweet”, “someone’s opinion”, who had “left the story there” on the networks. “People can decide,” he added. To which the journalist replied “You are the president, you are not like any madman who can retweet anything!”
CONSPIRACY. Q’Anon are a set of theories that believe that Donald Trump was elected to fight a dark state.
CANDIDATE: Marjorie Tyler Greene, who believes in the QAnon theory is close to becoming a Congressman for Georgia.