As QAnon conspiracy theorists grapple with the reality of Joe Biden’s presidency – something they thought would never happen – the movement appears to be looking for a way forward as some put their beliefs aside. , according to the researchers.
QAnon is a vague set of unfounded beliefs based on the disproved notion that a cannibalistic cabal of liberal elites working to traffic children and harvest their blood to stay young at the behest of interdimensional demons or psychic vampires, according to the follower. .
Supporters believed former President Donald Trump was chosen to defeat the cabal, based on “drops” from an anonymous character called “Q” on the 4Chan picture board.
The conspiracy gained momentum in 2017, after Q took his first cryptic downfall and encompassed many other unsubstantiated theories, such as those from the anti-vaccine movement that claims the shots cause harm and inspired violence. , including plots to kill then-candidate Biden.
As Biden – part of the liberal cabal, according to Q’s beliefs – took office, some on platforms like the encrypted messaging app Telegram and far-right social media site Gab pushed the adherents to “trust the plan”, a common phrase referring to a nebulous plan for intervention by the military and Trump.
One user told fellow Q to hold the line for “a few more hours, maybe even a few more days” in case a surprise arises, according to a screenshot shared by a senior researcher at Media Matters for America, Alex Kaplan.
Here’s a QAnon influencer already getting ready to move goals to QAnon regarding Biden taking office. pic.twitter.com/AIFOVoETjY
– Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) January 20, 2021
“If you choose not to trust Q right now, trust DJT,” the user said, using Trump’s initials.
But others seemed to realize that they had been duped. “We got it, it’s over,” wrote another user.
The QAnon conspiracy traveled from one picture board to another as domains that hosted such sites banned them. QAnon’s home base before Biden’s inauguration was 8kun, a successor to 4chan, the site where Q posted its first drop.
Even Jim Watkins, a prominent figure among Q adherents due to his role as an 8kun administrator who bolstered his public profile after Trump lost the November election, admitted QAnon’s defeat.
“We have a new sworn-in president and it is our responsibility as citizens to uphold the Constitution whether or not we agree with the details,” Watkins said in a statement after Biden’s inauguration, asking people to return to their lives.
But Media Matters chairman Angelo Carusone told Al Jazeera the movement is unlikely to go away.
Carusone said in an interview that if the original Q followers, who saw Trump as a type of savior, could turn to other groups, “new blood within the QAnon movement is sort of ready to fight. this fight. “
QAnon gained new momentum in April, as the COVID-19 pandemic quickly spread across the United States and people turned to vaccines for hope.
“That’s when they started pollinating with the anti-vaxxers on Facebook, so you had a massive influx of anti-vaxxers into the QAnon movement and vice versa,” Caursone said.
He warned that QAnon’s myriad of views would likely begin to creep into Biden’s COVID-19 response. He also warned that others would become “increasingly radicalized” on the far right.
Dr Heidi Beirich, co-founder and chief strategy officer of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, has similar concerns.
She said Al Jazeera QAnon’s adherents appear “to be a mature group to be targeted for recruitment.”
Although QAnon’s supporters are mostly white, the plot did not deal with overtly racist rhetoric, favoring coded language.
Beirich, who has researched the far right for decades, said the militia movement was the most likely new hotbed for supporters of QAnon and Trump.
“They’ve certainly become more anti-immigrant and more anti-Muslim in recent years, but they don’t come across as white supremacists.
But members of the militia movement were reportedly active in the deadly riot on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Edward Caldwell, a leader of the Oath Keepers, a militia that often recruits former servicemen, was accused with conspiracy for his alleged role in the riot by US prosecutors.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, called on militia members to be prepared to “defend themselves” from the Biden administration.
“It’s just amazing that Trump let the election be stolen from him and the country stolen like that,” Rhodes said Wednesday of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ agenda.
“You needed to raise local militias in your towns and counties, and like the founders did, then you have to cancel, refuse to comply, and when they come for you, you stand up for yourself.
It is still unclear what will happen to QAnon, and Beirich said it is possible that many people involved in the movement could return to their lives, as Watkins urged.
Still, grievances over perceived stolen election will remain, and Beirich worries about recent YouGov survey this showed that 20% of voters, including 45% of Republicans, approved of the storming of Capitol Hill.
“These are 20 million people who do not believe that this election was fair and who do not believe that our institutions are legitimate”, she concluded.