QAnon isn’t the first conspiracy theory to sweep the nation.
What QAnon calls the Deep State was once known as “the government behind a government”.
Where QAnon says John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death, fantasies of yesteryear believed that John Belushi’s overdose death was a government coup.
And when followers of QAnon tell tales of a phantom cabal of Satanic cannibals and sex traffickers, twisted liars from the 1850s and 1860s warned of Satanic bankers and Catholics who also drank blood and abused children. .
That’s why QAnon, who made former President Trump a messiah, always had to run out of steam. It will follow the arc of the furious and insane American conspiracy theories that have been around since before the Civil War. Cults like QAnon shine bright and quickly fade.
QAnon’s demise, in fact, is well underway. Its frontman, Q, a figure on the dark side of the internet, is now widely believed to be the creation of Jim and Ron Watkins. The Watkins Men are a seedy father-son duo in Asia who spread pornography and hate speech online.
If Watkins’ hypothesis is true, that means Q isn’t exactly the patriotic and principled avenger on the sex trafficking crusade his followers have put their faith in.
Q also remained silent for seven months. The cryptic things Q was posting, symphonic poems that served as Rorschach’s tests for his followers’ projections, have ceased to appear. They no longer make the front pages of the raves of 8kun, the horrific online picture board, owned by Ron Watkins, where they first appeared.
QAnon’s prophecies were dismal failures. At first, Q claimed that “the storm” would take place on November 3, 2017. Nothing extraordinary happened. He also repeatedly prophesied that Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) would step down from the United States Senate. McCain served until his death in 2018.
Q insisted that President Trump’s enemies would kill themselves en masse on February 10, 2018. No. Finally, “the storm” was prophesied again, this time on President Biden’s inauguration day, January 20. Zip.
It was then that Ron Watkins, who denies having played a role in the Q phenomenon, posted this on Telegram: “We gave it our all. Now we have to hold our heads up high and get on with our lives as best we can.”
Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy, an organization that tracks extremist groups online, summed up the situation at the end of January: “After years of waiting for the ‘Great Awakening’, QAnon members seemed genuinely shocked at see President Biden successfully inaugurated. . A significant percentage online write that they are now done with QAnon. “
Of course, the only historical event that QAnon did help catalyser did not end well for the participants. On January 6, Trump fanatics, some in Q shirts or waving Q flags, stormed the United States Capitol.
As of Friday, according to the Justice Department, some 465 people were arrested for the attack. A court record has indicated the government expects to charge nearly 100 more.
Many defendants intend to claim that they were brainwashed. Albert Watkins (no connection to Ron and Jim), lawyer for furry insurgency Jacob Chansley, aka Shaman QAnon, claims his client fell into the clutches of a cult.
“He’s not crazy,” Watkins told The Associated Press last month. “People who fell in love with [cult leader] Jim Jones and went to Guyana, they had husbands and wives and lives. And then they drank the Kool-Aid.
The QAnoners who are still on board no longer know what this means. Some have stopped talking about Trump and are now preaching anti-Semitism. Others urge supporters to take on debt because the future somehow belongs to the cryptocurrency and the Iraqi dinar. The Orthodox Q types, whose numbers are dwindling, presumably still await courts for Trump’s enemies and, of course, the Storm.
But late last month, pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, a possible heir apparent to the Q Empire, dismissed some of the most popular Q memes at a Q convention in Dallas. “There are no military courts that will magically solve this problem for us,” she said.
And although Q urged followers to “trust the plan,” Powell announced, “I have no evidence that there is a big plan behind it.”
With January 6 still fresh on our minds and with the cultural ascendancy of next-gen conspiracy advocates such as Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) And Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), it’s easy to miss the proof that QAnon’s power is waning.
It’s a blindness akin to believing in Trump’s indomitable indomitable, even though he lost the White House and been twisted.
After a grueling period of pandemic and political violence, citizens experience societal trauma. We are becoming hypervigilant. And we are likely to panic about bad things.
Believe it: the consistency, allure and leadership of QAnon are complete. Trump retired. Many QAnoners are now behind bars.
Of course, this is not the end of the dangers posed by fanatic groups. It might not be QAnon next time, but extremist ideologies and paranoid fantasies will always captivate the dispossessed.
And if we are still fighting against a cult that is defeated, we are in strategic difficulty. Not only will we not have learned from Q’s collapse, we will also not be able to recognize the next disaster, let alone prevent it.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.