Last week Roseanne Barr — who, with the hit reboot of her show, has become one of the most prominent Donald Trump supporters in the country — tweeted that the president has freed hundreds of children a month from sexual bondage. “He has broken up trafficking rings in high places everywhere,” she wrote. (The tweet has since been deleted.)
Barr’s tweet, puzzling to the casual observer, was a reference to QAnon, an expansive, complicated pro-Trump conspiracy theory. The theory is fascinating as an artifact of our current political derangement, but more than that, it’s profoundly revealing about the lengths to which some Trump supporters will go to convince themselves that his presidency is going well.
As Paris Martineau explained in New York Magazine, QAnon was born last October, when someone claiming to have “Q” level security clearance started a cryptic thread on 4chan, the online message board and troll playground. It was titled, “The Calm Before the Storm,” a phrase Trump had recently used. Q posted hints, some in the form of questions, ostensibly meant to help clued-in Trump supporters understand what was really going on in Washington beneath the facade of chaos and incompetence. (“What is military intelligence? Why go around the 3 letter agencies?”)
From these clues, a sprawling community on message boards, YouTube videos and Twitter accounts has elaborated an enormous, ever-mutating fantasy narrative about the Trump presidency. In the QAnon reality, Trump only pretended to collude with Russia in order to create a pretext for the hiring of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who is actually working with Trump to take down an inconceivably evil and powerful network of coup-plotters and child sex traffickers that includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros.“QAnon points out that this is the beginning of the end for the Clintons,” said Jerome Corsi — a prominent proponent of the lie that Obama was born in Kenya — on a YouTube broadcast in January. He warned that the world would be forced to contend with “films of innocent children pleading for their lives while people are butchering them.” Once that happens, presumably, Trump will be revealed as a master of 12-dimensional chess who successfully distracted smirking elites with his buffoonery while he was quietly saving the world.
Yeah OK, but how much crazier is this than the idea — very popular right now in conservative evangelical circles — that Trump is a recently born-again Christian, a kind of reality TV version of King David, who has gotten over his whoring and pussy-grabbing ways just in time to win the culture wars? As Michelle Goldberg points out, if a miraculously reformed and surprisingly super-intelligent Donald Trump didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him:
Conspiracy theories are usually about evil cabals manipulating world events. QAnon, by contrast, is a conspiracy theory in which the good guys — in this case, Trump and his allies — are in charge. It’s a dream of power rather than a bitter alibi for victimhood. It seems designed to cope with the cognitive dissonance caused by the gap between Trump as his faithful followers like to imagine him, and Trump as he is.
QAnon, Alex Jones, 4Chan: How much distance is there really between these people and Donald Trump? Trump’s sudden takeover of the Republican party is based pretty much entirely on his willingness to openly advocate for the conspiracy theories at the core of right wing politics in America today, including:
(1) Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
(2) Millions of illegal aliens are illegally voting in an illegal way.
The calls are coming from inside the (White) house.