It’s an old evil that keeps reappearing over and over again: blood libel, anti-semitism, witch hunts (the real ones, not the fevered persecution fantasies of terrible people), the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, government sponsored genocide, the McMartin preschool moral panic, satanic ritual abuse, and now…QAnon. They’re all the same. Talia Levin chronicles them all, and adds another organization to the ranks: The Republican party.
For now, QAnon remains in a curious position with regard to the formal party apparatus of the GOP. While QAnon adherents have been warmly lauded by the president—“I’ve heard that these are people who love our country,” he said—other elected Republicans have proceeded with more caution. The past few years have proved that there is an enormous amount the Republican Party is willing to absorb; cryptic clocks, coded messages, and the sating of Democratic appetites on child-flesh seem as yet just out of the bounds of propriety.
Nonetheless, the increasing popularity of the theory among the Republican base—which has exploded following the mixed and often conspiratorial messages proffered by the party during the Covid-19 pandemic—has meant that QAnon is no longer relegated to the fringes. The researcher Alex Kaplan, at Media Matters for America, has kept track of no less than 81 candidates for Congress in the 2020 cycle who have “endorsed or given credence to the conspiracy theory or promoted QAnon content.” Twenty-four of those candidates have made it to the November ballot, by winning their primaries or fulfilling other requirements. (Kaplan has identified an additional 21 current or former candidates for state legislatures affiliated with QAnon.) A number seem poised to win their contests, ensuring a QAnon-believer presence amid the ranks of the political elite next year. One wonders how closely they will monitor their colleagues’ veins for signs that they are pulsing with adrenochrome, extracted from the pituitary glands of tortured children, and how such discoveries will affect bonhomie in the cloakroom.
The McMartin story is illustrative and familiar. I remember the insanity that gripped so many people over that one: there were secret tunnels under the preschool! Children were dragged down there and forced to participate in satanic and sexual rites! Babies were being horribly murdered as part of evil rituals! Of course, there were no tunnels — authorities actually dug up the grounds to search for them — and there was no evidence of tortured, abused children, or of any of the outlandish acts anyone was accused of. Yet lives were ruined and people were jailed and spent years in court, all over this unbelievable nonsense.
Now QAnon is up to the same tricks with claims of tunnels under pizza parlors and Democrats indulging in child trafficking so they can steal the blood of innocents. When will we learn that none of this is happening and these are lies peddled by fearmongers?