It’s not a good sign when a substantial part of the country chooses to trade facts for innuendo, is hostile towards governmental, scientific and medical institutions, and becomes indoctrinated in groundless conspiracy theories that are potentially dangerous.
Will America ever return to her former glory or has social media brought about its permanent demise?
Social media gives a lot of underserving people a platform to spew their nonsensical rhetoric. And despite their often-groundless claims, these people are sometimes able to tap into the fears and insecurities of the most vulnerable in society.
Last month, Yahoo! released the findings of a shocking poll that should shake “sober” Americans to the core.
Their poll, conducted in collaboration with YouGov in October 2020, surveyed 1,583 registered voters online and found that 50 percent of President Donald Trump’s voting electorate believe high profile Democratic politicians are running or are somehow affiliated with a global child sex-trafficking ring.
Years ago, these kinds of conspiracies were laughable and not taken seriously. But that would change in December 2016 when a 28-year-old man from Salisbury, North Carolina drove over 5 hours to a Washington, DC restaurant and fired three shots inside from an AR-15 style rifle.
It was a laughing matter no more.
Fortunately, no one was hurt by the young man who, after being arrested, insisted he wanted to save the children from peril.
By the middle of 2020, such conspiracies were no longer fringe thanks to QAnon, a movement and ideology that teaches people to reject reality and distrust institutions, and centers around the idea that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles—mainly consisting of what they see as elitist Democrats, politicians, journalists, entertainment moguls —seek to undermine President Trump and the other so called “white hats” (good guys) in government.
Its followers believe a Great Awakening is coming and that one day soon Trump, with the help of an anonymous high-ranking military official known as “Q,” will round up liberal politicians and celebrities, arrest them, and possibly have them executed for exploiting children.
So, how does it work?
Q, an anonymous poster, drops cryptic messages and leading questions (known as Q drops or crumbs) onto 8kun, an internet forum, that are subsequently examined by researchers hoping to find a coded message.
The “Q” posts, which started in 2017, have since been amplified on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
QAnon, in addition to floating the child trafficking nonsense, believes that mainstream news is fake, scientists are wrong and purposely deceptive, and that anyone who voices opposition to the Trump administration is evil and committed to the destruction of America.
Obviously, the conspiracy theories have been proven extremely false and the FBI has labelled QAnon an extremist threat.
But, given believers of such zany conspiracies are oblivious to factual data and take pride in distrusting the government (sans President Donald Trump, of course), they remain deeply committed to their very warped version of reality.
And that’s extremely dangerous, especially given the disgusting and vile nature of QAnon’s central theme. Child sex trafficking is enough to get anyone’s blood boiling. And some who truly believe that conspiracy are probably capable of a high degree of violence.
As of the early morning of December 4 and with ballots still being counted from last month’s presidential election, Trump has about 74 million votes. If Yahoo’s poll is accurate, at least 37 million in America’s electorate believe in QAnon’s central conspiratorial theme even though some remain unfamiliar with name, “QAnon,” itself.
… That’s about 15 percent of adult America.
And that number will probably grow as more people are introduced to QAnon and can attach a name and a brand to the conspiracies themselves. After all, when the President of the United States, himself, who is supposed to be a symbol of trust, wisdom and awareness, lends credibility to the conspiracies they become even more difficult to contain and combat.
Trump, who has retweeted QAnon conspiracy theories, first formally referenced QAnon at a White House press conference on August 19, 2020.
“I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” he said. “I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”
And when reminded by a reporter that QAnon believed Trump was saving the world from a satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals affiliated with or comprised of Democratic politicians, the president simply replied:
“Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?
“If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.”
Has America tumbled this far downhill?
There is hope…
In October, Facebook said it would remove any Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts “representing” QAnon. YouTube also said it was banning content that targets an individual or a group using conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, that have “been used to justify real-world violence.”
Also, Twitter maintained it would block QAnon URLs and permanently suspend QAnon accounts coordinating abuse or violating its rules.
Fingers crossed, the media and our governmental and corporate institutions will also make it a priority to crack down on the widespread dissemination of lies, including but not limited to QAnon.
More QAnon Stats & Facts
- QAnon originated on 4Chan, a profoundly racist, sexist and xenophobic website that serves as a forum for users to chat
- August 12, 2020, Waco, Texas: Police arrested and charged 30-year-old Cecilia Celeste Fulbright with driving while intoxicated and aggravated assault after she chased two cars and crashed into one. Fulbright claimed she was attempting to “save a child from pedophiles.” Fulbright’s social media history indicates that she was deeply influenced by the QAnon conspiracy theory.
She once wrote in a text message to an acquaintance that President Trump was “literally taking down the cabal and the pedophile ring.” This paranoid obsession with pedophiles and child trafficking is common within QAnon. A former roommate said Fulbright had a history of untreated mental health issues. (Source ADL.org)
- March 13, 2019, Staten Island, New York: Anthony Comello allegedly shot and killed Gambino family crime boss Francesco Cali outside his home on Staten Island, New York. In court Comello displayed many references to QAnon. According to statements made to his attorney at the time of arrest, Comello believed that Cali was part of the “deep state” working to unseat President Trump. In court filings, Comello’s attorney has argued that “Mr. Comello’s support for QAnon went beyond mere participation in a radical political organization, it evolved into a delusional obsession.” (Source ADL.org)
- June 16, 2018, Hoover Dam, Nevada: QAnon believer Matthew Wright pleaded guilty on a terrorism charge after blocking the Hoover Dam in Nevada with a homemade armored vehicle on June 15,2018. Wright was armed and had more 900 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle when he was arrested.
- QAnon’s infatuation with a global elite of bankers has antisemitic undertones.
- The Coronavirus pandemic has provided additional fodder for QAnon followers and their wild, groundless conspiracies
- Two QAnon followers won seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2020 Election
- According to the previously referenced Yahoo!/YouGov poll, 31% registered voters have seen posts or received emails or texts from friends or family about child sex trafficking in the U.S. Trump supporters were more likely than Biden supporters to be targeted, by 38% to 24%.
- Per a Pew Research study, Americans’ familiarity with QAnon increased dramatically from early to late 2020. In a Feb. 18-March 2 survey, about a quarter (23%) of U.S. adults said they had heard “a lot” or “a little” about QAnon. By September, that number had increased to 47%.
- Politically-aware Americans with high are more likely than others to have heard of the conspiracy theories, a Pew Research study found. And surprisingly, Democrats, on all levels of political awareness (high, average and low), are more likely to have heard of QAnon than Republicans on the same levels.
- The majority of Americans who have heard of QAnon have an unfavorable opinion of it. Per Pew Research, of those familiar with QAnon, 57% say QAnon is a “very bad” thing for the country. Another 17% say it is “somewhat bad.” Conversely, 20% say it is a somewhat or very good thing, while 6% were unsure or did not answer.