Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-yearold warehouse worker, drove the 350 miles from his home in Salisbury, N.C., to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, 2016, and stormed into the Comet Ping Pong restaurant with an AR-15 assault rifle and a Colt revolver. His mission: to destroy a pedophile ring identiﬁed by the Internet. On the way, he made a cellphone recording, according to The Washington Post, for his two young daughters: “I can’t let you grow up in a world that is so corrupt by evil, without at least standing up for you and other children just like you.”
The story was false, Welch quickly discovered, and he surrendered to police. He later wrote to the judge that he realized “just how foolish and reckless my decision was.”
But, for many others, “Pizzagate” was embellished to include a cabal of Satan-worshipers operating a child prostitution ring, drinking children’s blood and running a “deep state” alternative government.
Ten months later, in October 2017, President Donald Trump suddenly blurted out, during a photo op with senior military ofﬁcers, “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.” He refused to elaborate.
Within days, on Oct. 28, 2017, an anonymous person, “Q”, started spreading mind-boggling political conspiracy theories, which, along with later claims that the 2020 election was stolen, inspired the failed January 6 coup and spawned the prediction, which Trump is stoking, that he would be reinstated as president in August. Q’s ridiculous postings eventually totaled more than 4,000, Drew Harwell and Craig Timberg reported in The Post.
Who is Q? Harwell and Timberg suggested that it could be Ron Watkins, administrator of a conspiracy-promoting message board where the postings were made. Walter Kim, in a Harper’s story, tapped Georgetown University professor Carrol Quigley. Adrienne LaFrance, in The Atlantic in June 2017, picked Trump, noting that he launched his 2016 campaign with the bogus claim that Barack Obama was not American-born. Of course, Trump himself went on to make more than 4,500 lies and misstatements during his presidency. Molly Roberts, writing in The Post in August 2018, also ﬁngered Trump: “Because ‘Q’ is the 17th letter in the alphabet and 17 is also a number Trump has said a few times.”
Or could Q be a high-level government ofﬁcial who appropriated the Department of Energy’s top secret security clearance designation?
In time, the followers of this anonymous Q person – QAnon – came to believe, as CBS News reported on Nov. 24, 2020, not only the tale of global child trafﬁcking and a deep state that only Trump could stop but also that he secretly worked with special counsel Robert Mueller to do so; that deep state operatives killed President John Kennedy to silence him quiet and tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Convinced that the 2020 election was “stolen,” they believe that a “storm” bigger than the Capitol attack is coming to return the presidency to Trump and that the military, which picked him to run in 2016, would again play a decisive role. And that the COVID-19 vaccine contains nanobots to control people.
It is astonishing that citizens of the world’s most powerful nation would believe such arrant nonsense, especially coming from an unidentiﬁed source. But 15 percent of Americans do, Giovanni Russonello wrote in The New York Times on May 27, citing a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the Interfaith Youth Core. The poll found that 25 percent of Republicans are die-hard QAnon believers, as are 12 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats – yep, bipartisanship. PRRI founder Robbie Jones put the overall number at “more than 30 million people.” He added that, “if it were a religion, it would be as big as all white evangelical Protestants or all white mainline Protestants. So it lines up there with a major religious group.”
If it is not a traditional religion, it is anyhow part of the myth-making which started after the South’s defeat, “the Lost Cause,” now knitted into the “replacement theory” which is based on the fact that European Americans will be in the minority in 25 years. Even before the coming of Trump and Q, many of them have been unable to accept that American history includes forcing Indigenous Peoples from their lands and enslaving millions of Africans, its influence on the nation’s development and the pain of their descendants. Take the opposition to teaching “critical race theory” in schools which correctly asserts that the history has created systemic racism.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and 20 Republican attorneys general denounced the effort to present the truth and pursue reconciliation and the landmark “1619 Project” which The Times published in 2019. “It is based on false history when they try to look back and denigrate the Founding Fathers, denigrate the American Revolution. If we have to play whack-a-mole all over this state, stopping this critical race theory, we will do it,” DeSantis pledged.
The governor should take a look through the Hubble Space Telescope, which, NASA says, “has peered back into the very distant past to locations more than 13.4 billion light years from earth.” It should be easy to turn Hubble’s eye to Planet Earth of 1619 onwards. He would learn that, in his own state, European American terrorists attacked Ocoee in 1920 as African Americans tried to vote in the worst of Election Day violence ever. Also, that European American terrorists burned down Rosewood in 1923.
But DeSantis has probably already consulted the little green men who, Trump and “Q” must surely know, are in those flying saucers which the military says do exist.