There is no graceful reaction to seeing lunatics get their hearts broken.
When we hear about adherents of QAnon weeping and wailing because their infamously psychotic theory didn’t quite come to pass, well, it’s a question of how we should respond.
Should we laugh?
Should we gloat?
Should we feel pity?
All are understandable reactions when we’re talking about individuals who sincerely believed that Trump was going to round up satanic cannibals with the help of JFK Jr., then wipe out the lizard people that run the world economy.
Yes, true Q devotees honestly thought that, at Biden’s inauguration, Trump would stride to the stage, proclaim himself president, and have every Democrat and Hollywood celebrity promptly thrown into jail. They believed this right up to the moment Biden had his hand on the Bible to receive the presidential oath—literally to that second.
And afterward? Well, many Q believers are now saying, “My bad” and trying to slink back into American life. So we’ve had ex-Q fanatics go on television to tell journalists they are sorry for accusing them of eating babies. And we’ve had multiple news stories expressing sympathy for these poor misguided souls who shrieked for suspending the Constitution and publicly executing anyone who displeased them.
Hey, minor mistake, right? We’ve all been there. Could have happened to anyone.
What we are seeing is, yet again, the media’s benevolence toward violent White people, and the airing of full-throated rationalizations for delusion, hubris, and horrific behavior among “respectable” citizens.
You see, the link between QAnon and white supremacy is well-established. To no one’s surprise, many disgruntled ex-Q followers are now embracing straight-up Nazism. Furthermore, the anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at the core of the conspiracy theory naturally lend itself to all forms of bigotry.
Of course, it’s not just that you are unlikely to see Black people waving WWG1WGA signs (although that is indeed unlikely). It’s that the very act of becoming a QAnon supporter is a twisted form of White privilege.
Again, look at any article rationalizing the growth of this insanity. You will inevitably read—perhaps to the point of faint praise—how new followers spent 14 hours a day online researching their conspiracy theories.
This is one reason why there are few Latino QAnon freaks. Hispanics are working too fucking hard to spend 14 hours a day researching idiocy. It is only comfortable White people who can indulge in clicking on link after link about Pizzagate and the Storm and similar nonsense.
In addition, Latinos and Blacks don’t need to conjure up imaginary enemies. We had a real-life, 100-percent verified adversary in the White House for four years, and we see bigots marching in the street, or calling the cops on us for no reason, or even shooting us in our bedrooms. What ethnic minority needs to make up a threatening force? We don’t, because we live in America.
Furthermore, the rise of QAnon is another example of the belief that if things are not working out for White people, it must be a conspiracy. It is also an illustration of how racists will hide their motives by insisting there is some greater good—like rescuing children from blood-drinking sex traffickers—rather than broadcast their hatred.
Finally, it is perhaps the ultimate example of bigots using their power and privilege to lash out at ethnic minorities, which should not be a shocker because “throughout American history, political violence has often been guided, initiated, and perpetrated by respectable people from educated middle- and upper-class backgrounds.”
And yet numerous media outlets have expressed compassion for this White-centric movement. We hear that QAnon supporters are “regular people” who got “seduced” by a nefarious force beyond their control.
But these are not people who were conned by a compelling theory. These are people who leaned in for a sloppy tongue kiss with craziness.
They possess a strong need for chaos and an insatiable desire for control. QAnon disciples cheered when Trump’s reign “reached its natural culmination, the activation of an army of White thugs who could be motivated by the oldest trick in the nationalist playbook: the promise that they operated in service of some grand idea—to be explained at a later date—and that it was going to take some head-cracking and bloodletting.”
There is a “substantial correlation between those who support or sympathize with QAnon and ‘dark’ personality traits,” such as “extreme, antisocial psychological orientations and behavioral patterns.”
QAnon followers were not seeking explanations for a complex world or trying to rescue America or striving for anything remotely noble.
No, these are people who are sincerely disappointed that a military dictatorship did not institute capital punishment without trial.
So, naturally, we should feel sorry for them.
In any case, many QAnon supporters have kept the faith, and simply repurposed their labyrinthine belief system to fit a new set of inconvenient circumstances.
And those who have renounced it are not sorry for unleashing madness. No, they are angry that Trump didn’t come through, or that democracy prevailed, or that firing squads aren’t lining up Jews right now.
Others are embarrassed to be so thoroughly humiliated in public, or pissed that they wasted so much time on cryptic prophecies that never came true.
But they are not apologetic for embracing a ludicrous theory that led to actual death, and may yet lead to more destruction. They are bewildered that most Americans would object to their violent uprising, or that anyone would have an issue with their desire to just get on with their lives.
And getting on with their lives is exactly what many of them will do, because their privilege will come through intact.
Hell, some of them will even get elected to Congress, something too crazy to believe—almost.
Featured image: Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/Getty