What’s that sign at President Trump’s campaign rally for GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida on Tuesday night mean?
“We are Q.”
The signs (and apparel) are references to a conspiracy theory growing increasingly popular among those on the far-right. Here’s what it all means:
What is QAnon?
The conspiracy theory centers on a mysterious and anonymous online figure — “Q.” The postings by this anonymous person (called Q) on 4chan (/pol/) appear to be related to when Trump said “calm before the storm.” “Q” began posting on anonymous Internet message boards in October 2017. The person or persons behind the “Q” persona claim to possess a top-level security clearance (Q clearance, hence the name) and evidence of a worldwide criminal conspiracy.
Where did this come from?
The whole thing started with some anonymous posts on 4chan. These posts written by “Q” are dubbed “breadcrumbs” by the theory’s followers:
Beyond 4chan, the theory has become very popular on Reddit. Around 6 months ago the subreddit r/greatawakening was created to track his posts and other conspiracy related stuff.
The “predictions” are always a bunch of disconnected, usually unspecific, seemingly random things. For example, a post might simply say “boom”.
The Qanon followers then spend the following weeks trying to force these list items to fit world events. Did “boom” mean new developments in Iraq? A school shooting? Something to do with North Korea? A military operation success? A military failure? An upswing on the stock market? A snarky tweet? Someone arrested? Who knows?
That’s the point! It’s generic and abusable. If you believe in it, you will always be able to connect the dots.
Here’s an example of these “breadcrumbs:”
HRC detained, not arrested (yet).
Where is Huma? Follow Huma.
This had nothing to do w/ Russia (yet).
Do you believe HRC, Soros, Obamama etc have more power than Trump?
Whoever controls the office of the Presidecy controls this great land.
Why did Soros donate all his money recently?
Why would he place all his funds in a RC?
God bless fellow Patriots.
That’s just a garble of words. It means nothing. But it the kind of thing that lets the mind run wild if you’re predisposed to believe that the Clintons, George Soros and the Deep State are out to topple Trump.
What’s the conspiracy theory?
The Deep State Is Real, All Democrats are involved, It’s Full Of Pedophiles, And Trump Is In The Process Of Taking The Whole Thing Down
QAnon believers are convinced that the world is run by a nefarious deep state cabal of Democrats, celebrities, and intelligence community figures (many of whom, they claim, are pedophiles).
Trump is about to take them all down, in their telling, often with sealed indictments that are hidden from the public. Hence [Roseanne] Barr’s tweets about massive pedophile networks.
More specifically it goes like this: Special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t actually investigating Trump and his 2016 campaign for their possible ties to Russia. No, instead he’s really looking into Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and other top Democrats, like former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
There are numerous accusations pinned on these people in QAnon world. Some claim Clinton and Obama are in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. Others suggest Democrats along with Hollywood figures and left-leaning billionaires are running/participating in a global pedophile ring.
Some of the claims are quite hilarious. “Q” suggests all these figures are secretly wearing location-tracking ankle monitors and that they’ll all be sent to prison very soon. This arrest and imprisonment event the theory’s followers call “the storm.” Again, referencing back to Trump’s remarks last year, where he warned of “the calm before the storm.”
That meeting was held with military leaders. According to “Q,” the military persuaded Trump to run for president in order to clean up the vast criminal network.
QAnon is also very adept at flipping things that look bad for Trump into things that are in fact really, really great:
From these clues, a sprawling community on message boards, YouTube videos and Twitter accounts has elaborated an enormous, ever-mutating fantasy narrative about the Trump presidency. In the QAnon reality, Trump only pretended to collude with Russia in order to create a pretext for the hiring of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who is actually working with Trump to take down an inconceivably evil and powerful network of coup-plotters and child sex traffickers that includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros.
If it isn’t yet abundantly clear, this stuff is all made up.
Most of the breadcrumbs Q leaves are unspecific, but from time to time Q likes to set down firm predictions that are almost uniformly wrong. Here’s a Q post from last November 1st that Paris Martineau featured in her QAnon explainer at Select All:
Q Clearance Patriot
>My fellow Americans, over the course of the next several days you will undoubtedly realize that we are taking back our great country (the land of the free) from the evil tyrants that wish to do us harm and destroy the last remaining refuge of shining light. On POTUS’ order, we have initiated certain fail-safes that shall safeguard the public from the primary fallout which is slated to occur 11.3 upon the arrest announcement of Mr. Podesta (actionable 11.4). Confirmation (to the public) of what is occurring will then be revealed and will not be openly accepted. Public riots are being organized in serious numbers in an effort to prevent the arrest and capture of more senior public officials.
Who believes in the conspiracy theory?
To start, QAnon posts were limited almost entirely to 4chan and 8chan. But over the past year, Q has gained a lot of new believers.
This isn’t all that surprising. Trump built his political career by promoting conspiracy theories. He’s a birther. He asserts that vaccines cause autism. He claimed that Justice Scalia’s death was a murder. He continues to push his claim that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election.
This YouTube video a popular go-to for explaining QAnon is sitting at nearly 200,000 views. Additionally, an iOS app related to the conspiracy theory climbed near the top of the Apple App Store rankings earlier this year before it was removed.
Celebrities have also helped mainstream Q. Roseanne Barr has frequently tweeted about QAnon, she tweeted a common phrase among Q supporters “wwg1wga,” short for “where we go one, we go all.”
Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has even gotten in on the action:
Why does it matter?
Alright, there are some whackos out there that believe some crazy stuff. So, what?
What started as a fringe internet conspiracy theory has exploded in popularity and has led to several real-world incidents.
In April, a group of QAnon believers took to the streets in Washington, D.C. demanding answers from the Justice Department. Then in June, a man driving an armored vehicle and carrying two firearms shut down a highway near the Hoover Dam.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels, made an appearance in a series of QAnon this week. The posts included images of his office building and an image of a man standing outside Avenatti’s office.
Following Trump’s rally in Florida, QAnon even showed up in the White House briefing when a reporter asked Sarah Sanders if Trump “encouraged the support” of people at the rally wearing “Q” shirts.
“The president condemns and denounces any group that would incite violence against another individual and certainly doesn’t support groups that would promote that type of behavior,” Sanders said.
QAnon isn’t even the first internet-fueled conspiracy theory to make the jump from the web to the real world during the Trump presidency. In December 2016, a man fired a gun inside Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington D.C., citing the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. The theory being that the restaurant is the center of a child sex ring involving top Democrats, including Clinton and Podesta. Yes, the deep-state with all its power and billions in cash flow chose a pizza parlor basement as the perfect location for their pedophile sex ring.
Personal opinion: QAnon is nefarious LARPer (Live Action Roleplayer) gone too far. These breadcrumbs are nothing more than a bunch of made up conspiracy theory bunk to make it seem like there’s some master plan or deep state related shenanigans going on. It’s an extreme effort to make Trump’s real world stumbles and inabilities to govern all a cover-up for his extreme genius at playing 4D chess. I just hope this stupidity doesn’t get anyone killed.