Were it a government plot — a dazzling scheme to keep the public stupid — QAnon would be a great achievement in the otherwise relatively undistinguished history of the CIA. Alas, it is not. Like most things these days, if it seems like 4D chess, it’s probably just stupid.
So it is with Q, the anonymous executive-branch staffer who is said to be leaking “breadcrumbs” across the bowels of the Internet, illuminating a vast subterranean effort to expose Donald Trump’s enemies for everything from pedophilia to killing Princess Diana to causing Hurricane Katrina. It’s a thrilling fantasy that takes the rightist paranoia of The Turner Diaries and mixes it with the gore of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer and the doomsday religiosity of Heaven’s Gate.
The QAnon legend assigns every terrible thing in history to a blue-state plot. Liberals killed JFK Jr. to make way for the Clintons, shot Reagan, murdered Seth Rich, organized lots of kid-buggering operations (Pizzagate was just the tip of the iceberg), pulled off the Las Vegas massacre and allied themselves with an array of villains, from Julian Assange to JonBenet Ramsey’s killer. Into this mass rave of evil comes Donald Trump, a fat Christ sent down from right-winger heaven to clean the temples.
In one version of the story, Q is actually JFK, who faked his own death to join Trump’s secret evil-crushing team. The covert cabal has supposedly arrested Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta and the corpse of John McCain, all of whom are said to be wearing ankle bracelets.
Someone is making great sport of this, and whoever it is has a sense of humor, if not a conscience. The goofball graphics of Q’s “drops” make for perfect Internet-age performance art. The “crumbs” are disseminated mainly by meme and tweet, and designed to travel on a spearlike trajectory straight into the brains of the modern media consumer. The secret sauce is the sheer quantity of connections. QAnon doesn’t just borrow from conspiracy theories — it ties all of them together.
It would be hilarious were it less believed. QAnon has already gobbled the front line of not-smart right-wing celebrities, from Roseanne to future president Curt Schilling. Naturally, Trump himself has already taken the step of posing for a photo op with Q movementists, which doesn’t necessarily mean he believes it, but still portends something quite dark.
Q videos at one point cited Trump’s real campaign-trail rhetoric promising to clean out the “failed and corrupt political establishment” as the backdrop for the movement, so QAnon believers may now give him credit for fulfilling real promises, through the secret-but-unrevealed arrests of key conspirators. Because Q says the prez is clandestinely battling a combination of DARPA, Queen Elizabeth II and Draco — reptilian liberals, his failure to deliver on promises ending campaign-finance corruption and taking on Goldman Sachs will be a little less obvious. If you’ve been wondering how election-year political rhetoric could get dumber than 2016’s, Q is a preview.