QAnon lives on as true believers keep the faith

A photo of the so-called Q Shaman, a devout QAnon adherent who was part of the mob that stormed the Capitol in Washington on 6 January.

With the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States, you’d hope that the wheels would’ve finally come off the QAnon bus. Advocates of the conspiracy put everything on Donald Trump as their saviour. Taking their name from the anonymous Q who posted cryptic messages online — supposedly from inside the Trump administration — QAnon conspiracy theorists have been left wanting. 

Confusion and anger reign. Some feel betrayed thinking that Trump has sold out or gone back on his promises. Others believe that there’s more to come and that Q hasn’t been proven wrong. The inauguration is part of the process of the so-called “storm” that Q has promised for years; when the Trump administration will arrest and put on trial key players in the wider global conspiracy of control and mass murder, including Biden, Barrack Obama, and Bill and Hilary Clinton amongst others. Belief, in this case, remains resolute.

Failed predictions

In the Irish far-right ecosphere the reaction to Biden’s win and inauguration has been mixed. Some have pointed out that predictions made by Q were nonsense the whole time. On one Telegram channel the admin made reference to the fact that some QAnon adherents believe Trump will retake the presidency in March. They referred to the idea as “absolute rubbish”. Going on, they wrote “The Q crowd are so full of sh1t [sic] it’s not even funny”. 

As the far right is fond of doing when its plans don’t work out, elements have decided to blame the left for the failure of Q’s predictions. At least two popular Telegram channels have shared a post which claims that QAnon is a copy of a “Bolshevik psy-op from the 1920s”. The apparent goal was for Q to act as a channel driving support to the government instead of away from it.

On Facebook, criticism of the QAnon movement can be easily found amongst the Irish far right. Conspiracy theories about Biden’s win also abound. Extremists continue to claim that he stole the election and that Trump was the rightful victor.

The game is still being played

But others persist in believing in even more fanciful fables related to Q’s predictions. 

In one case a woman posted on Facebook a detailed account of how, in fact, Washington is a “foreign” state based on a fictitious account of the city being a “corporate entity”. She argued that the military moving in to the city in the days leading up to the inauguration on 21 January, to ensure the event would go ahead smoothly, was a cover. 

She claims that in actuality it was part of a process of seizing corporate assets based on election fraud legislation that Trump had set in motion. The military, she declared, “have seized control of a foreign country, DC”. And the reason why Trump has now gone to Florida is that “he can’t rule a sovereign nation from a foreign land”. She insists that people are “literally watching the reclamation of the real country”.

On one QAnon Telegram channel users profess their belief in similar notions. The admin of the channel posted that the military will act against the supposed conspirators once Trump “is long gone” from the Oval Office. According to the poster this is so “it won’t be blamed on him”, thus ensuring Trump’s safety and that of his family. 

Over on 8kun, probably the centre of QAnon activity on the Internet over the last few years, true believers are also keeping the faith. Posters claim that China has “bought and paid for Joe Biden”. And although Q’s plan obviously hasn’t come to fruition, the same commenter finds what Trump did in the last four years, and the “many other pieces of the puzzle” he put in place, “hard to reconcile” with him deciding to “walk away and be done with it all”. 

After considering this, the poster writes that “logic would dictates [sic] that ‘The Plan’ is still in motion and a reckoning is coming for all of these filth”. 

A different 8kun commenter said they expect Trump to “take a while” before he puts Q’s predictions into motion. The reason being that Trump has to “make sure that fish swallows the lure nice n [sic] deep”.

One reason why people are insisting that QAnon was a disinformation or psychological operation ran by the US government, according to one poster, is the fact that these claims are being made in the first place. Such posts, they wrote, “Explains why the shills are still here, doesn’t it?”.

Rowan Croft, aka Grand Torino, was one of the most prolific QAnon propagandists in the Irish far-right landscape. Over the last few of years he made numerous videos and posts related to QAnon and Q’s supposed posts online. But Croft has made no mention of QAnon in recent times.

But that’s not to say that Irish adherents of QAnon are now non-existent. 

A new Irish Q?

A new Telegram channel dedicated to reopening businesses and the country in general has recently become active. The group, The Great Reopening, is itself a play on the QAnon phrase “The Great Awakening”. According to QAnon believers, this awakening entails a revolution in which “the elites will be routed and the truth will be revealed”. 

In the Great Reopening Telegram group, which has more than 1,000 members, Irish Q believers and other conspiracists have gathered. It describes itself as “a decentralized coordinated effort to push back against the Governments [sic] unconstitutional and unjust Covid19 policies”. Although the admin has insisted the group isn’t for posts related to QAnon, there are obvious Q adherents in it.

Members have openly claimed that “Trump is arresting people” who’re involved with the “Deep State” at this very moment despite the fact that he lost the election. Others have written that “Covid will be gone in a few weeks”. The prevalence of the virus, they argue, was kept at a certain level in order “to prove Trump was a bad man”. And that Biden has already started to lower the numbers to make himself look good. Another poster told members of the group that the dates of the Irish COVID lockdowns were known by the Health Service Executive (HSE) months in advance. 

Admins of the group have also set up subgroups for every county in the country, some of which have hundreds of members.

But the main Irish channel itself appears to be an offshoot of a British Great Reopening group. In the Irish channel documents relating to dealing with the police and various legal issues around reopening and not wearing masks refer to British and not Irish legislation. And the protests today demanding that businesses reopen also coincide with ones planned across Britain. Prominent extremists in both Ireland and Britain have promoted the rallies including Nick Griffin, former president of the far-right British National Party (BNP).

A screenshot from Nick Griffin’s Twitter account where he’s promoted the Great Reopening rallies.

An evolving movement

Unshakeable faith is synonymous with cults. In QAnon, all of the hallmarks of a cult are there; a disassociation from reality, insistence on knowing the truth as opposed to the falsities others have confidence in, willingness to believe no matter the evidence, and reliance on an authority figure or figures from whom prophecies and diktats are handed down. 

Trump may no longer be a viable figurehead for the wider movement. But as I’ve argued before, new figureheads can be easily found. And the Republican Party has shown more than ever before that it’s willing to allow fascism to rise as long as it’s on the correct end of the jackboots. 

Added to this is the toll that COVID-19 is taking on people’s health, both physical and mental. This allows the far right and other extremists a way in. They offer vulnerable people a way out and an explanation; certainty in a time of massive uncertainty. Anti-mask rallies here in Ireland have been nothing but a recruitment drive for extremists. The involvement of the Irish Freedom Party and National Party in these protests proves as much.

By all reasonable standards QAnon should’ve died when Trump lost the election and when Biden was inaugurated. But we live in unreasonable times. The certainty provided by QAnon is a potent force. And now, in league with other conspiracists, the movement is morphing into something new. What that’ll be remains to be seen. Expecting something even more unpleasant would be a safe bet though.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – TheUnseen011101

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