QAnon, Hybrid Warfare, and the 2020 Election

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Photo Credit: Nadin Abbott

We are a few months from the general election, and as of now, it looks like President Donald Trump will go down to defeat. We are already seeing a similar pattern to 2016, including hybrid warfare. The intelligence community already identified Russian actors in our elections that want Donald Trump to win a second term. To be fair, they also identified the Chinese and Iranians, but theirs are not equivalent operations. It goes without saying, the president could care less.

It's been said that this is the most important election of our lifetime, and perhaps, for once, this is no exaggeration. Donald Trump wants to remain in office. It’s not because he respects the office. He does not. It’s not because he even likes being president, he does not. Trump desires to be is an autocrat, with infinite power. This is the kind of power that he imagines the office to have. He seems surprised every time he comes across the limits that the constitution imposes on the officeholder.

Then there is the paranoid nature of the United States. We have a small group that can easily fall under the spells of paranoia and believes things that otherwise make no sense. This is part of our politics and most of the time they remain on the edges of reality. Some of the conspiracies we love and hate have been around since the time of the John Birch Society’ at the very least, if not longer. But now we have a unifying theory of conspiracy. Whether it is the anti-vaxers or the fans of the new world order or the government is a tool of the United Nations, they all have a home. There is a sub-current of antisemitism and racism that is also part of this.

QAnon is the unifying theory of conspiracy, and it started on October 17, 2017. This is the day the first Q-Drop occurred. Who Q is could matter for historians, but suffice it to say, Q has embraced every conspiracy theory of the last three decades, at least. It has also created a few more.

Q, the legend goes, has Q level clearance in the security and intelligence apparatus of the state. There is a Q clearance within the Department of Energy, however. The legend is not in the Department of Energy. Q is also is a self-made man, who was forced to work for an ultra-secret organization that you could never find. And all of this is a joke. Or at least this is the origin of the legend, which is part of the joke and it invokes quite a bit of the internet fringe culture.

So who is QAnon? It could be you, or me, or anybody else who claims to be Q. The origin of Q is with the Anon culture of 4Chan, and 8Chan. These are two imageboards, and for 4chan the critical place is /Pol. This is where a lot of the greatest hits in conspiracy land of the last few years have gone from a joke to something quite serious. QAnon, like Pizzagate and GamersGate, has gone from a joke to a threat. This tells me that the site is not just the purveyance of nerds and reporters.

There are many references to Q from Star Trek and the continuum as well. However, this joke has become very dangerous, and at this point has become an internal threat to the United States. In 2019 the FBI declared this a domestic terrorist threat. In the view of this reporter, it will be even more serious than Gamers Gate or Pizzagate. According to Rolling Stone:

Distributed on May 30th, the memo from the bureau’s Phoenix office notes that it is the first report of its kind to take aim at “conspiracy-driven domestic terrorism,” citing a number of violent incidents the bureau believes were linked to conspiracy theories. “The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document says.

Although the memo lists a number of such theories, including Pizzagate and the conspiracy surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, it pays particular notice to QAnon, the wide-ranging (and extremely non-evidence-based) theory suggesting that Hillary Clinton and other high-ranking Democratic officials are engaged in a child sex trafficking ring, and that President Trump will one day arrest them and send them to Guantanamo Bay. QAnon followers also believe that the Mueller report was a smokescreen for Mueller and Trump’s secret investigation into the Democratic officials and other “global elites.” While originating from the smaller corners of the internet, such as anonymous message boards and sites like 4chan, the theory has since gained traction in the mainstream thanks to proponents like Roseanne Barr publicly endorsing it, as well as President Trump himself retweeting a QAnon-related account earlier this week. (The account was subsequently suspended by Twitter.)

So how did something stupid, nerdy, and fringe become the widespread conspiracy we all are now forced to confront? It was weaponized. Whether it happened as soon as it started to appear, or once it left the Chans is a good question, and at this point academic. What is a fact is that members of the movement include people who span the educational range, as well as access to social capital.

Members of the movement these days identify each other with a simple acronym: Where we go one, we go all WW1WGA. And they also share something else with each other, quite a bit of grievance politics. It also comes with conspiracies and a few are not unlike the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with the usual antisemitic tropes. While it may point to Russiam, the original protocols were written there near the end of the Tsarist era, some of them are also very American in the paranoid nature of the country.

QAnon Ideology and Conspiracies

Some of QAnon’s ideas have existed in the paranoid corner of the nation for a long time. They were at the heart of the John Birch Society, and the became part of the Tea Party ideology. One in particular first took form with Pizagate, which was also weaponized by forces that see these as useful to set American against American. So what are they at the core?

Q follows the grievances of the White House almost to the day. And some of the promises made to the followers include things that Trump would love to do, but the legal system has prevented him from doing. For example, this is a Q drop from Oct 28, 2017.

Anonymous ID: gb953qGI №147005381

Oct 28 2017 14:33:50 (EST)

>>146981635

Hillary Clinton will be arrested between 7:45 AM — 8:30 AM EST on Monday — the morning on Oct 30, 2017.

>>147005381

HRC extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur. US M’s will conduct the operation while NG activated. Proof check: Locate a NG member and ask if activated for duty 10/30 across most major cities.

This arrest never happened. In fact, there is a long list of people who have allegedly been arrested, who have not and likely never will. They are The Who’s who of the liberal bogeymen of Q and the right. Well, perhaps with the exception of Jeffrey Epstein, who died in custody. What we know of the real world private island where he took his friends, includes Donald Trump. There are also many photos of both men together. However, for Anons, this is not something they believe is factual. In fact, this is fake and out of fake news. This is the deep state creating havoc and going after the Christ-like figure in the White House.

Then there is Pizzagate that preceded this and has elements of Stochastic terrorism. It may be a preview of things to come. This is especially the case after Q adopted this whole pedophile ring as its own. Incidentally, these rumors go back longer to the 1980s and Hollywood. None has ever been able to find evidence that will hold in court. It is likely a weaponized urban legend.

This Pedophilia ring is at the core of Q, together with the Deep State and both are mostly inhabited by prominent liberals and Democrats and continues to flourish with recurrent promises that an arrest is coming, or that it has. The fact is that the people in this ring, who include people like Bill Gates, have become bogeymen who are the sum of all fears.

Elections, civil war?

While QAnnon is not fixated on civil war or a race war, there is a deep crossover with Bugaloo Boys and many of the Right-Wing Militias. So we are seeing the increasing temperature as to what will happen in November. The president is not helping, by claiming the elections will be rigged. He did say the same in 2016, and this may have to do with how he thinks. However, this is fuel for the instability we are experiencing.

In fact, in the environs of the conspiracy Democrats will declare victory regardless of what happens in the election. It will be a coup from the same elites that run that pedophile ring, who are against Trump.

Some know that the election is not going to go in Trump’s direction. Some of them are very scared and believe that what is coming is Socialism, Communism, Marxism, with a dash of National Socialism, and Democratic Socialism. Yes, they confuse NAZIs with socialists, but this is hardly accidental. There has been an effort to rehabilitate NAZIism over the last few years by rebranding. This started with Richard Spencer at the turn of the century, but it’s continued over recent years. This is why you do not see that many people wearing NAZI uniforms, or steel toe boots, with tattoos.

They also continue to organize themselves into local militia groups, who are willing to fight the anarchists and the ghost of Antifa. None of this is happening under the cover of night, but many local news outlets refuse to see what is in front of their noses, partly because this is hard to understand. There is also a belief that racism and antisemitism are not happening where one lives, but somewhere else. This is a problem that we will have to overcome.

The chaos also leads to an opener to civil defense units to protect communities. This extends to media who at times do not realize what it is asking. This is how we end up with outfits like Defend East County in San Diego, which is truly a mixture of all the above with a strong dash of COVID denial.

Trump and COVID

The president has been a denier from the beginning. Whether it is for political reasons, his narcissism or his cheery toxic positivity will be for future historians. For the moment, the president continues to tell us lies and half-truths. No, the virus will not go on its own, and yes, it is still dangerous for children. The fact that the president is loose with the facts is troubling. It is a war on facts. Partly the response to COVID is the worst in the developed world, and it is terrible even when compared to developing nations with far fewer resources than the United States. We are acting like a failed state, with warlords making decisions that many times ignore the science.

Then we enter into the conspiracies spread by Q accounts. The first, and most dangerous, is that COVID is not real. It was an invention of Democrats to run Trump out of office. Oh never mind this is a global pandemic and people are getting sick around the world, and 166,000 Americans have died from the disease. I guess this was a global effort to drive Trump out of office. This is in line with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And I will add, this is very dangerous.

Then there are the allied conspiracies to this. When you press, there is proof that there is no disease. Hospital parking lots are empty. Well, county health orders include the closing of hospitals to all visitors. So, of course, the parking lots will be mostly empty. The only people there is staff or the rare patient that needs a lab test. Even if you take a relative to the emergency room, you are still not allowed in.

The second proof gets complicated. President Trump has been pushing a cure for which he may have some financial interest. This is hydroxychloroquine a malaria drug that has been tested and found to not be good for you. At least not for COVID. If you insist, you can ask your doctor. Off label scripts happen all the time. If your doctor is honest, they will keep you away from it, but the reality is that there are clinical trials, and they have found problems with the drug.

However, the conspiracy insists that there is no disease. Or if there is, this is not worst than the flu, and it is not lethal. The messaging about COVID 19 is muddled and this is by design. This has opened the way for anti-vaxers. They have been on the fringes for some time, and yes, they tend to be middle class, well educated, and white. Anti-vaxers have several theories about COVIDd that are dangerous and at times bizarre. However, they have all swallowed the storyline of the Plandemic, and do not intend to get the vaccine (as if this comes as a surprise to the rest of us.) And all of these ideas are intersecting with the world of Republican politics, the president, and QAnon.

His party knows that Trump is becoming increasingly toxic. Likely he is on his way to losing reelection. The question is how many Republicans will he bring down with him? So at this point, the president is desperate for a cure, but QAnon is busy creating the conditions to protect their christ-like figure. This means that we may very well see internal terrorist attacks.

COVID is highly inconvenient since it is deadly, and it has killed the economy. This was the major selling point for a second Trump term. Perhaps it is not as deadly as other viruses in the Corona family, such as MERS and SARS, but it is deadly enough. Also, those affected are trending younger, so some of the arguments that it only affected the elderly are starting to die off due to the course of events. For example, killing older Americans but the rest of us can make it, is no longer a disgusting talking point. The long term effects of disease and survival are yet to be known. But it has become the source of confusion and the United States is behaving almost like a failed state.

This is where our sense of individuality above all is biting us in the rear. We have the vast majority of illnesses globally as well as deaths. There is some evidence that the president has yet to understand how serious this crisis is. His friends in conspiracy land keep acting as if this is a nothing burger. And the largest meeting in the time of Pandemic is happening at Sturgis, South Dakota.

Conclusion

We are living through one of the greatest crises in American history. It is not just an economy. Or for that matter, the disease ravaging the land. We have a loss of trust in the institutions we have built, including the electoral system. We have foreign forces taking advantage of this, chiefly Russia, China, and Iran, however, their interventions are not equivalent. The most evolved in this form of hybrid warfare are the Russians, who would prefer Donald Trump to be reelected. In this respect, Q and other conspiracies will be weaponized. We have seen it in the past, and it will not stop now.

It is important to understand that the ground is fertile for this though. No weaponization would work if Americans were not as utterly divided as we are, or had the lack of trust we have in the government. Yes, it is white grievance politics and white power politics that are partly playing a role. We are becoming a diverse nation, and whites will not be the majority in years to come. This is creating a lot of anxiety in certain quarters. This is why the conspiracies and the deep state were embraced by white supremacists and antisemites.

I expect the election to be challenged unless Trump wins. If he loses, even if in a definite way, he will challenge, possibly leading to another Constitutional Crisis. There are reasons for this: He cannot admit that perhaps he is not that popular. Also that he is not doing the good job he claims he does. There is a deep narcissism, as well as a sense that he is unique. He alone can fix it. And in his mind, he should be an autocrat without the limits placed on the presidency by the pesky founders.

This is where QAnon comes in, with a slew of far-right militias and sundry elements. They see Trump as the savior. What it is precisely he is saving them from depends on the group, but we should expect some violence. Perhaps some groups will seek civil war, such as the Bugaloo Boys. The fact that the president is already seeding doubt to the results of the election is part of the problem.

We as citizens have a role. We need to reject the conspiracy-minded among us, and we must challenge them. Yes, this already has led to families that don’t talk to each other. And the media has to stop treating each terrorist attack as a separate, Sui-generis event. They are not. They are part of a continuum.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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