Trump is leaving, QAnon is here to stay

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Followers of QAnon are mostly conservative, extreme far-right groups that can be seen at Trump rallies. QAnon conspiracy believers claim Trump is the savior to defeat the “satanic elites” and “pedophile Democrats”.

Mirella Vargas, Opinion Editor

Despite Trump’s election loss, QAnon believers are still clinging on and believe that this is all part of Trump’s grand plan to defeat the left.  His false claims of election fraud after Biden’s win, may serve as further validation of their belief in the “corrupt left”.

Trump may be leaving the Oval Office, but don’t be surprised if QAnon and its followers give Trump enough fuel to launch a political campaign in the future.

QAnon has evolved from an online Frankenstein of conspiracy theories to a far-right political agenda which undermines the safety of American democracy and its citizens.

The QAnon conspiracy theory grew out of the obscure online forum, 4chan, in 2017 and has wormed its way into prominence ever since. It is an unfounded conspiracy theory that claims President Trump is secretly battling an undercover network of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child trafficking ring, often referring to it as the “deep state”.

Followers of QAnon are mostly conservative, extreme far-right groups, who see leftists and democrats as not only the opposition, but an enemy that needs to be defeated and guilty of these unsubstantiated child trafficking claims.

In a Yahoo poll released last month, only 17% of registered voters who intended to vote for Trump answered “no” when asked “Do you believe that top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings?” An alarming 50% of Trump supporters said they believed the false claim was true, while 33% said they were unsure.

In recent months, QAnon has increasingly become more of a social and political issue and has even inspired multiple violent incidents. As of 2019, the FBI has designated QAnon as a “domestic terror threat” because of its potential to incite extremist violence.

And incite violence it has. In June 2018, an Arizona resident blocked a bridge near the Hoover Dam with an armored vehicle. They later pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge.

One of the most disturbing incidents involving QAnon ended in a murder when a 24-year-old man in Staten Island allegedly murdered a boss in the Gambino crime family, because according to him, he was a prominent member of the “deep state”. According to the suspect’s lawyer, the suspect claimed he “was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself, and that he had the president’s full support.”

Most recently, two Virginia men were arrested after driving to Philadelphia to “deliver a truck full” of fake ballots because, without evidence, they were concerned of fraud in the ballot-counting taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The police found AR-style rifles and 160 rounds of ammunition inside the suspect’s truck, a silver Hummer adorned with QAnon emblems. Their lawyer’s said they had no plans to incite violence, yet their intentions to commit voter fraud, all while carrying military-style weapons, is very alarming.

In August, Trump was asked about his thoughts on QAnon. “I heard that these are people who love our country,” Trump said. After being briefed about QAnon and its false narrative, Trump responded “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?” Having a president say these words about a group who has committed acts of terrorism and violence is not only dangerously ignorant but also a national security threat.

Believers of QAnon have also posed a public health threat during the pandemic, believing that Covid-19 is either a fake ploy or a biological weapon created by China, all while spreading misinformation and claims based on zero science.

Many in the QAnon community refuse to follow public health policies such as maintaining social distancing policies and refuse to wear masks in public. They believe their freedoms are being “breached” by the “deep state.”

They underplay or ignore the impact Covid-19 has had on the country, especially in the most vulnerable communities. Trump ignoring science and defying public safety policies, like removing his mask in the White House while being Covid-positive, also encouraged this behavior.

The QAnon community is not your typical tin-hat wearing conspiracy believers, they come from different backgrounds, and some even have made it into Congress.

Yes, Congress.

On election day, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a supporter of the pro-Trump theory, won a House seat in Georgia. Greene was among at least a dozen Republican congressional candidates who had expressed some degree of support for QAnon and its baseless narrative.

In a conservative-leaning South Brooklyn district, a Republican candidate Mark Szuszkiewicz, who also supports QAnon, is leading against the Democratic incumbent and is on the verge of winning the seat.

It is vital to stay informed. Practice critical thinking skills to discern valid sources from made-up ones when doing research online. As humans, we often turn to confirmation bias and only search for information that conveniently fits our narrative.

It’s important to follow multiple sources online, with different perspectives and affiliations, so we can diversify our own perspective. Fact-checking social media posts or articles before sharing is serious and important in stopping the spread of dangerous and untrue information.