By James Rothenberg
Is there a single person behind the anonymous poster, Q, (claiming Q-level DOE security clearance) or is it a ghosted amalgamation of two or more individuals posing as Q? From the cryptic clues that are posted, we know that Q is very mysterious. The mystery that captivates though, the real mystery, is that Q is hidden, and must remain so for the QAnon phenomena to promulgate.
Some people claim to be Jesus Christ. It’s an interesting concept. Sometimes we see these people on a street corner. That’s deflating. Not that if Jesus came back he would avoid street corners, but seeing flesh and blood standing there instantly collapses the would-be into the here and now. Not the same when viewed.
Without drawing a specific conclusion on the authenticity of Q, there are some things we can speculate on. We can also make inferences about its appeal.
There’s no certainty that Q even believes the literal truth of the messaging. Though followers have come to accept it at face value, Q might be taking a line to spark a following. In this case, it hardly matters whether Q believes it or not. It’s taken on a life of its own.
If Q was a whistleblower — it’s not — it might have done things differently. Whistleblowers perform an essential function wherever power is asymmetric, as in the strong (government, corporations) over the weak (citizens, employees). Obama knew this right from the start.
“Often the best source of information about…abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism…should be encouraged rather than stifled. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose…abuse of authority in government”.
The “Protect Whistleblowers” paragraph this is excerpted from was taken from Change.gov (website of President-Elect Obama) but disappeared two days after Edward Snowden’s initial revelation. So too did the protection disappear.
Whistleblowers go on record for their words and actions, often suffering harsh retribution including prison sentences. Edward Snowden avoided his sure sentencing by leaving the country, but he has said he might return if promised a fair trial and not one based on an Espionage Act charge, which is a one-way ticket to prison because you are not allowed to argue a defense based on testimony and evidence of serving a public good.
Point is these people face their words, lending credit to them as they do. Q is not simply some anonymous hacker leaking files that speak for themselves. In this case it would be wise to avoid detection. Q messaging is, differently, the editorializing of opinion in the form of a set of fantastical notions.
Then there’s this to consider. How much has the original messaging from Q been amplified as it’s run through the rightwing community? It’s appeal seems to be proportional to the extremeness of its theories. The harder it is to be believed, the more sure of it you are to be. This is the certainty of the “truth” it offers. The campiness. That it is unbelievable to all but believers.
Why so many adherents? It didn’t come out of nowhere. How about this for a starter? Dollar stores, pawn shops, and auto parts stores! US capitalism has put it but good to the have-nots. Not only that, it’s done it with a seeming nonchalance. Dislike, distrust, and anger are on the rise, and faith in government and institutions is in decline. Polling data has been tracking this for years.
Gallop has figures for 2020. Positive trust (Great deal/Quite a lot) would come in at >50%. Institutions registering negative trust (<50%) include: Church or organized religion (42%), Supreme Court (40%), Congress (13%), Organized labor (31%), Big business (19%), Public schools (41%), Newspapers (24%), Presidency (39%), Banks (38%), Television news (18%), Police (48%, first time in polling below 50%), Criminal justice system (24%), and Large technology companies (32%).
Positive trust is enjoyed by the Medical system (51%, a large hope-driven uptick from previous years due to the pandemic), Small business (75%, for the little guy without power over you), and The military (72%, for last line defense from the enemies we need protection from as told to us by the White House, Congress, and the media who we do not trust at all.
In such a landscape, taken together with a people who have become less tethered to a society that ignores and impoverishes them spiritually and materially, it is unsurprising that some will be attracted to titillating theories that are provided by clandestine sources that profess to make sense of the situation, and tell you who to blame for it.
The outsized theories mingle well with fascistic characteristics of nationalism, racism, anti-semitism, harsh punishment, Christian fundamentalism and homophobia, but at the same time also finds a home with people who are willing to believe anything they haven’t heard before if it satisfies a need.
This last is no small thing. There are many people without political, religious or even ideological affiliation who are drawn to strange stories. Q has served to underline the proposition that you cannot make a story so strange that nobody will believe it.
Just like any other non-scientific belief system, QAnon’s persistence is dependent upon the unwavering belief of its adherents. It attracts for the same reason that some people signed up to go to Mars. They’re fed up with life here. If there’s a parallel, as long as you are spacey, you might as well try it out.
James Rothenberg, of North Chatham, writes on US social and foreign policy.