April 17, 2021

QAnon Proves Its Resilience

After the attacks of Jan. 6, commentators on the far right papered over the violence at the Capitol by saying that it had been a ploy, cooked up by left-wing activists and anarchists in antifa (itself an ideology, by the way, more than a real organization). And the lies have stuck: A poll last month from USA Today and Suffolk University found that nearly three-fifths of all Trump voters believed the Jan. 6 riot had been “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.”

This time around, seeing that it might not be wise to bring a group of fervid supporters to Washington for the arrival of a leader who doesn’t show up, QAnon influencers have gotten out in front of the problem — making a similar set of claims about antifa, but ahead of time.

For Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow in the Democracy, Conflict and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, this is just one more sign of how malleable — and potentially long-lasting — the QAnon conspiracy theory appears to be.

“What’s really worrisome about QAnon is that it’s basically a choose-your-own-adventure,” she said. “It allows people to co-create a conspiracy that gives them a strong sense of positive community and belonging, in a world that’s very isolated.”

“And it’s a community in which there’s an idea, rather like an improv group, to say, ‘Yes, and’ — not, ‘No, but,’” Kleinfeld said. “If someone throws out an idea, others are encouraged to build on it. That suggests a long life, a durability.”

Even as its original creator has seemingly stepped aside, QAnon’s supporters have become embedded within a range of far-right communities. That, Kleinfeld explained, is also making it stronger.

“A number of entities fuel QAnon,” she said. “There’s the moms’ anti-pedophilia groups, there’s the men-protecting-their-families groups, there’s the anti-vaxxers, the evangelicals. But they’re amplified by the officials who benefit from them. And the Republican Party has had a number of operatives that have benefited and therefore amplified Q.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/us/politics/qanon-capitol-washington.html

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