Q has been identified, and it is exactly who one would expect.
QAnon is a curious entity. Like many things in 2020, it has similar antecedents, but the extent strength and power of its influence is almost without precedent. Recessions have happened before, but not like this. Pandemics have happened before, but not like this. There were never so quick to become so global. US presidents have attracted controversy, but not like this. Near daily dominance of the headlines has never happened.
We have had conspiracy theories before, but not like this. This is a conspiracy theory that reached the highest office. It is one of few, to my knowledge that has at least been hinted at by the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. He sais that at least it says that they say very good things about him. “They like me very much”, he says. This last element is probably key. This did not happen with Area 51, the Moon Landing, and the New World Order.
What is Q Anon?
Q Anon is a conspiracy theory. It is not just any conspiracy theory, however. Like many others, most people will find it to be quite outlandish. As described by NPR, core to the theory is that Trump is leading a secret, government-led charge against paedophiles, cannibals and satanic worshipers. These people traffic hundreds of thousands of children. To add to this, Donald Trump is some kind of mole or agent who has been placed to expose these people.
Whether even he knows it or consents to being an agent of this cause is not clear, as he responds to ask rhetorically “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?”. This is an obvious wink to everybody supposedly in the know that by neither denying nor confirming this, he seems to be part of it. While these winks seem to be part of a dialogue that the US President has with his followers. This dialogue that takes place through his endless lies and strange statements. The infamous “Covfefe” tweet is part of this. Was it sent erroneously? Is it a Q Anon clue? To some, it is a code. To others, it is nonsense.
Q Anon seems to trace some of its origin to the 2016 Pizzagate scandal. While this is not a scandal about stealing pizzas, secret pizzas, pizzas secretly being some kind of sandwich rather than pie, or pizza companies funding paramilitary activity, it was something far less delicious. It is a conspiracy theory that there was a child sex trafficking ring being run by the Democratic Party from the basement of a pizza restaurant in Washington D.C.. Some people believed this, and this culminated in a member of the Alt-Right turning up to shoot up the place and rescue the children on December 4th 2016. Only one of these was achieved, as needless to say, no children were found in the basement. Until this point, it was being pushed by people like Alex Jones and employees of the Trump Campaign. Following the incident, they distanced themselves from this theory. The election had been won by then anyway, so arguably, the theory no longer serve any purpose. Meanwhile, the restaurant continues to be the victim of harassment.
Q Anon seems to first make its appearance on Google in November 2017 after making its way out of the forums in 4Chan and Reddit. By March, this topic had been removed from the forums because it was seen as inciting violence. In spite of this, its wave of popularity kept climbing, peaking in August 2018. With interest tailing off after this, and then climbing again starting in March 2020 to where we are today with the largest papers in the world all working to debunk it. These timings with the US electoral cycle are probably not a coincidence, but that’s neither here nor there.
Who is Jim Watkins?
Jim Watkins is exactly who anybody would have thought it was. He is the founder of 8Chan. He lives in the Philippines with interested in Yoga and fountain pens, while farming pigs. he has been there since 2001. Like many Americans in the Pacific region, he was there as a U.S. military serviceperson, repairing helicopters. He even has a Youtube Channel, which, given his significant online influence is shockingly low-quality. The fact is that this is the kind of person who spread this information is very important. It shows us something that in 2020, while economic power is increasingly concentrated, the power to spread ideas is completely decentralised. This decentralisation is such that ideas do not need to come from some form of politburo, but any individual. Should this idea be compelling, society will adopt it. Two such examples are disgraced former physician Andrew Jeremy Wakefield’s 1998 study on the link between vaccines and autism, and the 1996 theory on Chemtrails. Neither of these have any basis in reality, what-so-ever. They are believed, spread, and disseminated because of a wish for them to be true. There is a compelling nature to these stories. These grand conspiracies with actors running things are certainly something that some people want to believe.
Where do we go from here?
Like many things that have their origins in the basements of incels, this has made it to general society and become a part of the culture. The terms “Cancel Culture”, ,SJW (Social Justice Warrior)” and “Woke Mob” started with the Gamergate scandal in which gaming streamers targeted and harassed women and even sexually assaulted them. These actions resulted in many of these perpetrators being banned, and being upset at “Social Justice Warriors”, all the while complaining that they were being silenced. “#MeToo”, and the triple parentheses to identify jews “((()))” also see their origin in online spaces. Curiously, we only seem to hear opinions of people who claim to be silenced. Three recent cases of this were Abigail Shrier on the Joe Rogan Experience, arguably the largest podcast on the planet, Nicholas Sandman at the RNC, and Sam Harris on the BBC. For anybody to be able to speak on these platforms and complain about being silenced is plainly absurd. Legendary Game Developer who has since retired from the industry Cliff Bleszinski (CliffyB) acknowledged the rampant homophobia, sexism, and misogyny in online spaces, particularly around gamers. For these terms to move from niche online spaces to the real world is an inevitable consequence of how everything is increasingly online. Increasingly, companies such as Ubisoft, and many others are being exposed as institutions which seem to be inactive in dealing with harassment cases.
Finally there is a new hashtag which has become popular #savethechildren. This has nothing to do with the charity, Save the Children, but is a reference to all of the children being trafficked by the Q Anon conspiracy. As a result, this conspiracy continues to spread.
Q Anon supporters such as Marjorie Taylor Greene are actively winning U.S. primaries at present, in spite, or perhaps on the strength of open racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia. not only that, but this seems to strengthen certain political candidates.