(picture from NBC article linked below)
Conspiracy theories are a dime a dozen and appeal to those who, confused by the news as it exists and suspecting that they don’t know everything that is going on, decide that there must be some sort of concerted effort to deny the truth to them. This confusion, accompanied by a seemingly inane desire to be “in on the secret” information, is one of the best explanations for the rise of QANON, that I can see.
That this tendency is further aided by the extreme rights intense desire to see “devils” in all those who don’t agree to lock, stock, and barrel, with their convoluted and insane view of the world and human interaction, and you get horrors like Qanon, a conspiracy theory that appeals to the fragile who see it as a “secret knowledge” that they have managed to latch onto, that other brighter and more even-keeled fact-based minds have not managed to accept.
So, we have people showing up in DC, buying into the lies dispensed by the former administration in the White House about a widespread conspiracy to “steal the vote”, who tried to do precisely what they accuse their opponents of trying to do….ie destroy the republic by keeping Congress from following the will of the people in agreement with the Electoral College.
What is so marvelously adaptive about this particular conspiracy theory is how it can morph to fit any objection. The basic theory seems to be that trump was fighting against a bunch of Democratic Pedophiles who were trying to take over the country. But, when a Republican like Kemp in Georgia or even Bill Barr deviated from the text, the members of this conspiracy group, easily amended their theory to include those Republicans. Thusly, they revealed the fact that the lie was the thing. Anybody that saw that widespread cheating on the scale they were suggesting didn’t, in fact, happen as part of this vast plot that they saw behind in the corners all over the place.
The thing is, on the face of this event, we have the Shaman. A young man with more time on his hands, apparently, than anything else, who spent his time in what I would considering bizarrely entertaining clothing advocating for a revolution and marching to prevent the very essence of our Democratic Republic from taking place — the peaceful transition of power. This hardy individual then, upon getting arrested and put in jail for his attempt at insurrection, was unwilling and/or unable to eat ordinary food, because it was not organic. Imagine that, jail doesn’t provide food that meets your high standards. This person would be laughable if he hadn’t engaged in truly dangerous behavior that actually endangered the lives of some of our representation, all based on a convoluted conspiracy theory.
But sadly, as funny as the Shaman and people of his ilk may be to the rank and file and somewhat more sane, citizen, these people walk amongst us. The HuffPost article gives a very poignant example of this. Sam is a young man who has lost his mother to the QANON cult. Now, admittedly, this was a woman prone to paranoia and tends to what some consider overblown reactions. She wouldn’t fly after 9–11, but there were lots of people nervous after that event and some justification for it.
But, as mildly annoying as her nervous reactions to other occurrences might have been, he has lost her now. She is, he reports “eat up” with QANON outrageousness. She has bought into this conspiracy theory wholeheartedly and seeings danger around every turn and is ANGRY about it to the point of nearly being violent in day-to-day life. Apparently, she now believes that only two people can be trusted, this unknown supposed member of the government called Q and trump, a man who, on Jan 6, actually threw his own supporters to the curb after claiming he would “go with them” to the Capitol. Even some of the other QANON believers have realized that he, himself, couldn’t or shouldn’t have been trusted to follow through.
So, is QANON a cult or a form of infectious mental illness? I don’t know why it has to be seen as one or the other. It can, and probably is, both.
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