Trump openly embraces and amplifies QAnon conspiracy theories

After winking at QAnon for years, Donald Trump is openly embracing the baseless conspiracy theory even as the number of scary real-world events linked to it grows.

On Tuesday, using his Truth Social platform, the former Republican president reposted an image of himself wearing a Q pin covered with the words “The Storm is Coming.” In QAnon lore, the “storm” refers to Trump’s eventual victory, when it was supposed he will regain power and his opponents will be tried, and potentially executed, live on television.

As Trump considers a new presidential bid and increasingly asserts himself in the Republican primary process in the midterm elections, his actions show that far from distancing himself from the political fringe, he welcomes it. .

He posted dozens of recent Q-related posts, unlike 2020, when he claimed that while he didn’t know much about QAnon, he couldn’t disprove his conspiracy theory.

Pressed on QAnon’s theories that Trump is saving the nation from a satanic cult of child sex traffickers, he claimed ignorance but asked, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?”

“If I can help save the world from trouble, I’m ready to do it,” Trump said.

Trump’s recent posts have included images referring to himself as a martyr fighting criminals, psychopaths and the so-called Deep State. In a now-deleted post from late August, he reposted a “q drop,” one of the encrypted message board messages that QAnon supporters say came from an anonymous government employee with top-secret clearance.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Even when his posts don’t directly reference the conspiracy theory, Trump has amplified users who do. An Associated Press analysis found that of nearly 75 accounts Trump reposted to his Truth Social profile in the past month, more than a third of them promoted QAnon by sharing the slogans, videos or images. movement. About 1 in 10 include QAnon language or links in their profile bio.

Earlier this month, Trump chose a QAnon song to close a rally in Pennsylvania. The same song appears in one of his recent campaign videos and is titled “WWG1WGA”, an acronym used as a rallying cry for Q adherents which stands for “Where we go one, we go all”.

Online, Q followers caught Trump’s attention.

“Yeah, haters!” wrote a commenter on an anonymous QAnon message board. “Trump went through the Q memes again. And he’ll do it again, over and over, over and over, until (asterisk) everyone (asterisk) finally gets it. Laugh at us all you want, whatever! Soon, Q will be everywhere!”

“Trump sends a clear message to patriots,” wrote a QAnon-linked account on Truth Social. “He re-truthed that for a reason.”

According to Mia Bloom, a professor at Georgia State University who has studied QAnon and recently wrote a book about the group.

“These are people who have elevated Trump to messiah status, where only he can stop this cabal,” Bloom told the AP on Thursday. “That’s why you see so many images (in QAnon spaces online) of Trump as Jesus.”

On Truth Social, QAnon-affiliated accounts hail Trump as a hero and savior and vilify President Joe Biden by comparing him to Adolf Hitler or the devil. When Trump shares the content, they congratulate each other. Some accounts proudly display the number of times Trump has “re-verified” them in their bios.

Using their own language to address QAnon supporters directly, Trump tells them they’ve always been right and that he shares their secret mission, according to Janet McIntosh, an anthropologist at Brandeis University who has studied the use of language and symbols by QAnon. .

It also allows Trump to endorse their beliefs and hope for a violent uprising without expressly saying so, she said, citing her recent post about “the storm” as a particularly chilling example.

“‘Storm is Coming’ is shorthand for something really dark that he doesn’t say out loud,” McIntosh said. “It’s a way for him to point the finger at violence without explicitly calling it out. He’s the prince of plausible deniability.”

Bloom predicted that Trump may later attempt to market Q-related merchandise or perhaps ask QAnon subscribers to donate for his legal defense.

Whatever the motive, Bloom said, it’s a reckless move fueling a dangerous movement.

A growing list of criminal episodes has been linked to people who have expressed support for the conspiracy theory, which US intelligence officials say could spark more violence.

In November 2020, two men drove to a robbing site in Philadelphia in a Hummer adorned with QAnon stickers and loaded with a rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition and other weapons. Prosecutors alleged they were trying to interfere with the election.

Last year, a California man who told authorities he had been enlightened by QAnon was charged with killing his two children because he believed they had snake DNA.

Last month, a Colorado woman was found guilty of attempting to kidnap her son from a foster family after her daughter said she began associating with QAnon supporters. Other adherents have been accused of environmental vandalism, firing paintballs at military reservists, kidnapping a child in France and even killing a New York mob boss.

On Sunday, police fatally shot a Michigan man who they believe killed his wife and seriously injured his daughter. A surviving daughter told the Detroit News that she believed her father was motivated by QAnon.

“I think he was always prone to (mental issues), but it really got him down when he was reading all these weird things on the internet,” she told the newspaper.

That same weekend, a Pennsylvania man who reposted QAnon content on Facebook was arrested after he allegedly charged a Dairy Queen with a gun, saying he wanted to kill all Democrats and restore Trump to power.

Major social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have banned content associated with QAnon and suspended or blocked accounts that seek to distribute it. This forced much of the group’s business onto less moderate platforms, including Telegram, Gab and Trump’s struggling platform Truth Social.


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