Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Warning about Conspiracy and Manipulation, part 2 (QAnon vs Conservatives in particular)

 One of the big conspiracy theories out there that are targeting conservatives especially right now is QAnon.

People hear about QAnon all the time as a "lizard people and pedophile-ring-fighting" thing. But QAnon is actually a very sophisticated manipulation and conspiracy theory that is rising quickly to the level of a cult. They even have church services! 

QAnon is run by someone--nobody knows who, but theories range from a pig farmer to Russian Intelligence--who is bent on dividing America so severely that it tears itself apart. 

I do not know why they targeted conservatives. Conservatives are no more gullible or prone to falling for conspiracies than liberals. In fact, everyone is susceptible and at risk. Regardless of why it is happening, it's happening.

And one of the things I've learned in doing research on this is that QAnon is highly skilled and incredibly adept at their game. They are smart and powerful. 

QAnon's basic core belief is not lizard people and killing humans to drink their blood, despite that being part of it (I gather. I'm not joining up to find out because of that susceptibility thing.) This is one description of their actual core belief by Steven Hassan, a cult and conspiracy expert. 

The world is run by a global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles and child sex traffickers who are plotting against President Donald Trump and his supporters and that only Trump can save us.

Here is another explanation, by Marc-André Argentino, a researcher studying "how extremist religious and political organizations create propaganda and recruit new members to ideological causes":

QAnon followers believe global elites are seeking to bring down Trump, whom they see as the world’s only hope to defeat the “deep state.”

Here is a more lengthy explanation, published by my favorite investigative journalism source, Bellingcat:

 Here is the core of the QAnon myth: with the aid of a small group of military intelligence officers called the Q team (one or more of whom is supposedly responsible for writing the drops), President Donald Trump is waging a shadow war against a cabal of Satan-worshipping, child-eating pedophiles who are conspiring to obstruct and overthrow him. The military will arrest them en masse in an event called “the Storm.” The cabal’s membership has grown in the telling (at first, it was “many in our government;” within a month, any “celebs” who had “supported HRC” might very well be in on it; a few months later, there were too many to fit into Guantanamo Bay; later still, three other “detention centers [were] being prepped”), but it would be fair to say that virtually anyone who’s angered or defied President Trump is considered part of the cabal, along with the usual suspects like financier and philanthropist George Soros.

After the Storm, military tribunals will ensure that these baby-eating traitors are executed or sentenced to life in prison. Faced with overwhelming proof of the cabal’s existence, a stunned public will mourn; rage; and ultimately unite behind President Trump, ushering in a golden age of patriotism and prosperity. 

Remarkably, this description covers none of the most bizarre corners of QAnon (for instance, in QAnon lore, North Korea was controlled by the CIA but has now been liberated by Trump and the Q team). It also omits a key aspect of the QAnon worldview: that every public act or utterance of President Trump or a suspected cabal member might contain “comms,” or secret messages, which QAnon believers can decode. And it leaves out one of the most important QAnon slogans: “disinformation is necessary,” which some might call a wonderful excuse for Q’s failed predictions, also allowing believers to pick and choose which parts of the theory they embrace.


 True justice and “good government” can only exist after the Storm, when Trump — and Trump alone — rules the country, with all his opposition dead or imprisoned.

I recently watched a propaganda video that laid out QAnon's plans as if they were a speech from Mr. Trump (it was a very convincing fake, and very slick and emotionally impactful). The video stated that it is God's will that Mr. Trump be President of the US for at least another 4 years in order to accomplish God's work at rooting out the evil global elites who are trying to overthrow the US government and instead force us all into socialism that will remove our religions and our freedom. It is God's will that we fight back, with armed uprisings, to put Trump in power one more time so he can return the rule of the country to the people and to God, and God will support and make successful anyone who fights, and it ended with the Lord's prayer and map turning red one state at a time as the narrator intoned "thy will be done, thy kingdom come on earth..."   

You can see clearly that QAnon and Trump are inextricably tied together.  And Q (what people call the puppetmaster pulling the strings, whoever it is) has spent a good deal of time flattering Mr. Trump and getting into his head, too, which has led to the philosophies and ideas of QAnon becoming somewhat mainstream in Republican circles. This is distressing. Especially since most people do not realize that things they are being told are normal Republican ideas and talking points are actually related to Q or have been hijacked and manipulated by Q. Remember, Q is a genius at twisting normal things into threads of his/her conspiracy and propaganda machine.

QAnon's apparent goal is to lead people into the conspiracy theory one tiny step at a time in order to create a divide in American culture and life, and then, once the followers are sufficient in number and sufficiently sucked into the false, manipulated beliefs, incite violence using them as pawns, or cannonballs, or expendables. The goal, apparently, is civil war. 

And it has become shocking how successful Q has been at this. The events at the Capitol on January 6, now that we're getting more information, show how successful Q has been. The fact that the FBI issued a warning to all people that there were going to be armed protests at all 50 state capitols and the US capitol between January 16 and January 22 is another indicator of Q's success at their awful goal.

Q wants to tear us apart from the inside. To destroy our nation and our souls. To make us feel fear and hate for even family members. To make us pray that everyone joins them because everyone who doesn't join will be destroyed for the good of the rest of us, and that is God's will. And Trump is God's chosen vessel to lead us through this destruction and rebirth. 

Q's methods are partially outlined in the article I linked to in Part 1. The red flags that you might be dealing with Q are the same as the red flags for other conspiracy and manipulation groups, so they are outlined in Part 1 as well. To sum it up, Q leads people to slowly, one little step at a time, begin to believe normal but Q-adjacent things, and to use Q's catchphrases and thinking patterns as their "talking points" to discuss political ideas. Any baby step that leads to Q's ideas becoming more mainstream is taken by Q willingly and eagerly, so that millions of otherwise good people are helping Q by using Q-related or Q-adjacent hash tags, catchphrases, explanations for things. Q has taught millions of good people to never criticize Trump on any level for any reason. Q has taught millions of people that sexual trafficking is something it is not. Q has taught millions of people that Democrats' primary (or sole) goal is to overthrow the government and put in a socialist government instead.

Q is a genius as hijacking things that already exist, and twisting them, or changing the words, or corrupting them just a tiny little bit at a time in order to teach people and prime people to accept more and more and more QAnon doctrine, until people are willing to storm the Capitol and think they are doing "the right thing" at the moment, as Josiah Colt, one of the stormers, said when he apologized for doing it. And Q convinces people that they have been enlightened when they have been sucked in and blinded. It's brilliant. They call it "redpilling" in reference to the movie The Matrix, where a character is offered a red pill that will make him "see reality" and "be free." 

I've had so many of their friends complain to me that it's like talking to a wall somehow to communicate with someone who has been redpilled. The friends try to engage with the ideas, try to communicate facts, try to discuss and find out what their friends think, and they are just shut out and shut down and belittled and demeaned. Suddenly, communication is no longer possible, and the person who is redpilled loses respect (even basic human respect) for all their friends who have not been redpilled, even while accusing others of that exact same thing. It's heartbreaking for the friends who disagree but do not feel any disrespect, and it further pulls the redpilled one into QAnon because they are trained to dismiss and hurt their friends and then see the insult as being pushed against them, not by them. 

Of course, not everyone who is believing or spreading Q or Q-adjacent (stepping stones to Q) ideas are redpilled. Most are relatively innocently going about their lives, believing seemingly reasonable things taught to them by the media and their redpilled friends, without ever realizing it's wrong. Q's ideas have spread far and wide in conservative circles and in conservative media sources--especially since Q managed to convince almost all conservatives to not engage with any other than the "approved" news sources--the ones that are Q-influenced and spreading Q ideas, or even just Q language and Q-appropriate talking points.

Q has successfully hijacked things that seem unrelated to his/her goal. For example, child trafficking. This is a real problem. And who wouldn't be against child trafficking? So Q jumped in there and has manipulated and corrupted the information being spread in a way that tells the wrong story. And, nefariously, in a way that makes normal people feel fear every single day, and makes them look at their own neighbors and fellow citizens as possible threats instead of as humans. Consequently, millions of white suburban housewives are now passionate about anti-child sex trafficking, but the thing they are fighting against is the made-up, mostly false narrative about it that was pushed by Q (that, for example, children are being kidnapped by foreign-looking men out of schools and grocery stores by the millions on a daily basis and sold into prostitution). 

The result of this has been that conservative white women now almost-universally fear "foreign-looking men" and were completely willing to not just go along with Stephen Miller's cruel and horrible immigration policies as a result, but to push them and promote them against common sense and their own religious beliefs, and against the wishes of actual anti-trafficking experts (Miller's immigration policies actually increase trafficking). It drove a wedge into society and did absolutely nothing to help the actual anti-child trafficking work going on. It also made anti-child-trafficking work a partisan issue, giving all credit to Trump as if this has never existed before he came along (despite all evidence to the contrary). 

I had a discussion with a really good person who I care about on social media who had been so blinded by the "talking points" that Q was pushing that she was advocating literally executing--without due process--anyone even suspected of being a pedophile, and accused me of being a horrible person who was beyond help when I suggested it might be a good idea to identify who is at risk of pedophilia and get them help before they commit any crimes against children. Zero victims was my goal. Death to pedophiles was hers. And there was absolutely no way to discuss it because the idea had been planted, and it was final. No nuance. No discussion. And no ability to comprehend other options or analyze it (this is a normally smart woman, too!). She had been infected by a virus and there was no way to get through to her, past the virus. 

One horrible thing about this is, once Q had successfully pushed their corrupted ideas into enough heads, they then pushed the idea that child trafficking would increase because of covid-related mask wearing, and so if we cooperated with health agencies as the Church asked us to do, we would be sacrificing our children to traffickers, who would get away with it because of masks. It was insane, but it drew a lot of people into behavior that was against the Church teachings, against their normal nature, against brotherly love, and into greater fear. They started seeing all the people who were wearing masks as people who were trying to help the "bad guys" steal their children.

And, in the mix, Q has been pushing the idea that the pedophiles are all Democrats. And all Democrats are either pedophiles or love pedophiles or are helping pedophiles.

Q took a normal, good idea, and corrupted it and corrupted it until it led many people to have more fear, less love, and the idea that the Democrats, liberals, or, in fact, anyone who did not support Tump was worthy of death. Sneaky. One little step at a time. Almost imperceptible. 

That's just one example of ideas that have been hijacked or introduced and then twisted and manipulated and used to lead people slowly but steadily into a corrupted reality created by Q to destroy them and all of us.

And we are all susceptible! And Q is targeting conservatives. Hard. Brilliantly. Liberals a bit, but conservatives hard.

There are hashtags that can be warnings for you of Q-corrupted ideas and Q-influenced people (who you should love but who you should be very wary of being used to suck you into the conspiracy). They include, among others, SaveOurChildren, wwg1wga (QAnon's motto is Where We Go 1, We Go All), thestormiscoming, patriots, qanon, wwg, wga, trump, maga, thegreatawakening, q, kag, darktolight, obamagate, pizzagate, draintheswamp, covid, qarmy, pedogate, deepstate, savethechildren, donaldtrump, conservative, redpill, fakenews, pedowood, adrenochrome, makeamericagreatagain, a, truth, thesepeoplearesick, usa, walkaway, bhfyp, wgaworldwide, coronavirus, republican, wakeup, thestorm, america, greatawakening, trumptrain, wethepeople, trusttheplan, epsteindidntkillhimself, followthewhiterabbit, sheepnomore, digitalsoldiers, americafirst, clintonbodycount, pizzagateisreal, wearethenewsnow, chan, newworldorder, qanonarmy, painiscoming, freedom, godwins, hisnamewassethrich, wakeupamerica, unitednotdivided, pro. nwo, thebaqery, maga2020.  (You can find more Q-related hashtags in this article: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/americas/2021/01/05/how-the-insurgent-and-maga-right-are-being-welded-together-on-the-streets-of-washington-d-c/ )

You can easily see that many of these look inocuous, and many have been outright hijacked. Despite how innocent they look, you have to be extremely wary whenever you see these hashtags because they indicate the person posting the information, whether knowingly or unknowingly, has been influenced by Q and is spreading Q's goals and Q's doctrines. Do not use these hashtags, even if you mean them in innocent ways, because they are calling cards inviting people to engage with you and spread Q's ideas and goals in and through you.

It is astonishing to me that Q has been so successful at the goals that people who spent their whole lives fearing a New World Order are now using that as a hashtag and advocating for it. People who spent their whole lives fearing an authoritarian leader would rise up and use the government against the people (and they would need to arm themselves against the uprising) are flocking to the aid of the very authoritarian government they feared, using their own weapons as the guns they spent their lives planning to defend their family against. 

It should not be a surprise that religious hashtags are included. The worst terrorist regimes in history all used religious language to manipulate the people and religious fervor to get them to commit atrocities. Q is not different--why not use something that has been incredibly successful in the past? Q kidnaps our faith and uses it to work against God and against our nation. In the name of following God and saving our nation, Q gets people to work against both, without ever realizing what they are doing. 

I have no words for it but astonishing. 

And yet, we are all susceptible to this influence and we are all at risk of joining, and all conservatives have targets on their heads right now.

Now, here's the really uncomfortable bit to post. I have compiled a list of ideas, talking points, etc., that are created by Q, stepping-stones to Q (influenced by and opening doors to greater influence by Q), hijacked by Q, or otherwise being used to spread Q's ideas and goals. All of these things are partially or completely false, but most are widely accepted as true by conservatives (and a few by liberals) thanks to Q and QAnon in general. This list is not comprehensive. But these are some of the ideas we've been fed, tricked into believing, have had hijacked, or have been spread by Q-influenced politicians, including the President (who appears to have been tricked into believing that going along with Q is doing good in the world.)

PLEASE please please please do not be offended if things you believe are on this list. We have all been tricked by Q. Q is targeting us to trick us. Being tricked by a master trickster is not something to be ashamed of. Clinging to it and diving deeper once you know better is concerning, though. I was tricked by Q about antifa and didn't even know until I prayed to know what things I believed were true that were not true. You were probably tricked by Q about something else. We all have been. But we don't need to cling to it. We can reject Q. 

Just like all the things Q does many of these are not all false, but only partially false. Finding the bit that's false can help us integrate nuance and critical thinking into all our ideas, and that is an excellent way to combat Q.

You will notice that Q did not invent a lot of these ideas. Some have been around for literally decades. Way longer than Q has been around. But, like the hashtags above that Q did not invent, Q has hijacked all these ideas, and they serve Q's purpose now. 

Ideas probably originating with Q or that help spread Q's message that should be checked

The election was stolen
There was a massive amount of fraud in the 2020 election
Fake voters exist and voted in huge numbers
Trump won the election
There were thousands of dead voters voting
Trump won by a landslide
There is a ton of proof that the election was rigged
Antifa is nationwide, organized, violent, and coming to get you
All violence is rooted in and committed by Antifa
You need to be very, very scared of Antifa
Antifa doesn't actually exist
Antifa is an ideology with no organization and adherents never show up and do violence
Children are at risk of kidnapping and being sold into sex slavery at every moment
Children are regularly kidnapped by foreign men and used for sex slavery by them
Democrats love pedophiles and push pedophilia and want to make it legal
Masks do more harm than good
Covid is not real
Covid is the flu
Covid cannot hurt you
The best way to end covid is to open the economy and have zero restrictions
Doctors are making money for diagnosing covid and so do it without any covid
Anything about Trump Derangement Syndrome (both the liberal and conservative meanings)
Democrats are going to institute socialism and take away your religion
Democrats are going to institute socialism immediately in an effort to destroy the government
Big-S Socialism and small-s socialism are the same thing
All socialism is the same as '60's socialism and communism
The Church wants members to fight all forms of socialism everywhere in the world always
All Black Lives Matter protests were violent
BLM is a terrorist organization
BLM is trying to institute marxism all through the nation
Jeffrey Epstein isn't dead
Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself
The Clintons have had a bunch of people executed
Whole cities were burned by black people rioting in the name of protesting
Black people are thugs
There was no russian collusion (and don't say anything bad about Russia at all)
The Mueller Report reported that Trump did nothing and it found nothing
Mueller was investigating a hoax
All Democrats hate Trump
Anyone who doesn't love Trump hates him
Anyone who doesn't support Trump does so from being full of hatred
Anyone who doesn't support Trump 100% hates me personally
Anyone who doesn't support Trump 100% is brainwashed by the media
Democrats have been trying to stop Trump from day one because of politics and politics alone (not because he's doing something wrong or dangerous)
Trump never lies
Trump has never done anything wrong
Trump is a godly man who is a prophet
Trump is all evil all the time and has never done anything good
Democrats are full of hatred
Republicans are all blind and brainwashed
There is an organized fascist Democrat movement trying to take over and destroy the country, and all Democrats are part of it--every single one, including family members and friends (alas)
Plandemic (all of Plandemic)
Democrats all lie; Republicans never do
Anyone who doesn't love Trump is a Democrat
Trump is called of God to save our country
Trump was called to have an 8-year term and since he didn't get re-elected, God wants us to overthrow the government all together and return the power to the people (and make Trump "First Citizen")
Patriots take up arms to defend themselves
The only good Democrat is a dead democrat
All Democrats are baby killers
If you vote for Democrats, you are voting to kill babies
All Democrats are in favor of using abortion as birth control and like abortions
Democrats hate babies
All Democrats want full up-to-birth abortions legalized and paid for by the government
There are zero exception to abortion prohibitions that are okay with the Church or any good people
All righteous people are Republicans
There are no righteous Democrats
You can tell a person's righteousness by how they vote
All Republicans worship Trump
If a guy is on our side, it means he's good no matter what he's done
We're the good guys and nobody else can be
The mainstream media is biased and therefore wrong
The conservative mainstream media is not biased
You cannot trust the Mainstream Media in any way in any realm and should never read or listen to anything they have touched
Non mainstream media are more reliable than anyone else and we don't have to check their bias or where the money comes from or even their facts--especially the "approved" sources of information
Non mainstream media has no agenda and would never lie
If you are not one of us, you are a liar or mistaken and I would be wrong to listen to you or consider your ideas
If a source uses a single loaded word or ever makes a single mistake (even if they retract it), everything they produce is wrong and unreliable and manipulating you

There are more. Many many more. I couldn't catalog them all and I wouldn't want to. Since this is a post of warning to conservatives, I focused most heavily on those, but there are liberal Q lies as well, and I included a few of those. I'm sure you could think of a lot more. We're always more attuned to the lies others believe than we are to the lies we believe. And nobody wants to think that something they believe is actually wrong. Nobody wants to think they were misled. Nobody wants to think their ideas are actually simplistic black-and-white thinking that is a stepping stone to something awful like Q, or that things they've believed for a long time have been hijacked by Q. 

I might even be wrong about some of these. Hard to tell when you're wrong. 

The only thing I've found that consistently works to help me see what I believe that is wrong is to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help me "know the things I know that just ain't so," as my dad once said to me. I learn one bit at a time. I think it would work for everyone. God loves us all. He helps us all shed our false or incorrect beliefs and the vain traditions we've learned one piece at a time, helping us replace them with true things. 

I have also found it helps immensely to take my brother's advice to give people the benefit of the doubt. Surely they have come to conclusions through some thought process. Surely they are not all evil simply because they believe something different from me. We can continue to remind ourselves that we are all humans and children of God, and that we don't want to us-vs-them or "other" people, but let them be human and learn and grow and evolve together. We especially don't want to make people dig in their heels and defend themselves in a falsehood because of how we behave (I am still working on this--it is an definite fault of mine.)

In the meantime be aware of the spreading lies and keep your compassion and critical thinking skills at the forefront.

Read more here: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-s-qanon-followers-are-dangerous-cult-how-save-someone-ncna1239828

and here: https://theconversation.com/the-church-of-qanon-will-conspiracy-theories-form-the-basis-of-a-new-religious-movement-137859

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