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People Think This Whole QAnon Conspiracy Theory Is A Prank On Trump Supporters

"What the fuck is wrong with boomers?"

Posted on August 6, 2018, at 7:57 a.m. ET

There's a growing group of Trump supporters who are convinced that the president is secretly trying to save the world from a global pedophilia ring.

Fox News

They call the conspiracy "QAnon," and last week its believers ended up on national television.

CNN interviewed a bunch of QAnon-loving Trump supporters outside the president's rally in Wilkes-Barre, and I almost feel sorry for these people. They are gravely deluded. https://t.co/CYxw93qCPi

The QAnon conspiracy theory is vague, complicated, and nonsensical, and it's been building support online since October 2017. It started with a post on 4chan's "Politically Incorrect" messageboard called "Bread Crumbs."

The author of "Bread Crumbs" claimed he was a member of the federal government with a Q clearance. Q clearance is a security authorization at the Department of Energy that would grant someone top-secret access to national security information, among other things.The post was screenshot and posted to Reddit's conspiracy subreddit and, voilà, QAnon was born — "Q" for the security clearance, "anon" for anonymous. A month after the 4chan post, a manifesto titled "The Book of Q" was posted to a Google Drive.Since then, the theory has bounced around a million social media sites, shifting and changing as more and more users share it and alter it to fit their needs.
4chan

The author of "Bread Crumbs" claimed he was a member of the federal government with a Q clearance. Q clearance is a security authorization at the Department of Energy that would grant someone top-secret access to national security information, among other things.

The post was screenshot and posted to Reddit's conspiracy subreddit and, voilà, QAnon was born — "Q" for the security clearance, "anon" for anonymous.

A month after the 4chan post, a manifesto titled "The Book of Q" was posted to a Google Drive.

Since then, the theory has bounced around a million social media sites, shifting and changing as more and more users share it and alter it to fit their needs.

Summing up exactly what QAnon is is hard to do and, frankly, a waste of time, but the crux of it is that Donald Trump is secretly fighting a global cabal of pedophiles.

According to Q, nearly every president before Trump was a "criminal president" who was part of an evil global organization of Satanist pedophiles. It also claims members of the US military who are not working for the global pedophile cabal supposedly approached Trump and begged him to run for president so that they could purge the government of the deep state operatives without a military coup.Q claims Trump is not under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, but that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are. And Trump is actually working with Mueller.Q regularly drops clues that followers call "crumbs," which are meant to predict things. For instance, he claimed John Podesta would be arrested or indicted Nov. 3, 2017 — which, of course, didn't happen.
4chan / Via rationalwiki.org

According to Q, nearly every president before Trump was a "criminal president" who was part of an evil global organization of Satanist pedophiles. It also claims members of the US military who are not working for the global pedophile cabal supposedly approached Trump and begged him to run for president so that they could purge the government of the deep state operatives without a military coup.

Q claims Trump is not under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, but that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are. And Trump is actually working with Mueller.

Q regularly drops clues that followers call "crumbs," which are meant to predict things. For instance, he claimed John Podesta would be arrested or indicted Nov. 3, 2017 — which, of course, didn't happen.

In the last few months, QAnon supporters have become more bold about taking their conspiracy theory into the real world.

An Arizona veterans charity called Veterans on Patrol (members pictured above left) came across a homeless camp in Tucson in May and decided it was a child-sex camp. The group organized under the #OperationBackyardBrawl hashtag. Members spent several days streaming at the site and eventually forced local authorities to investigate, and a cadaver dog was even brought in. Of course, nothing was found.

Things got even more intense a week after the Tucson incident, when Matthew P. Wright (above right) was arrested after he drove an armored vehicle onto a bridge spanning the Hoover Dam and blocked traffic to demand the government "release the OIG report," a call spouted by QAnon believers. Wright's standoff with the police lasted 90 minutes. He was eventually taken into custody without incident, authorities said, but a rifle and a handgun were found inside the truck.

And most recently, Q posted pictures on 8chan of attorney Michael Avenatti's office and then posted an image of a man who appears to be holding a weapon outside the office.

To read more on Q's thousands of sub-conspiracies, memes, and codes, check out BuzzFeed News' explainer What Is QAnon? The Daily Beast's Will Sommer is another great resource for making sense of all of the chaos.
Twitter: @MichaelAvenatti

To read more on Q's thousands of sub-conspiracies, memes, and codes, check out BuzzFeed News' explainer What Is QAnon? The Daily Beast's Will Sommer is another great resource for making sense of all of the chaos.

As QAnon gained more media attention, many users on 4chan began to suspect it was probably all bullshit, actually pretty lame, and also, quite possibly, a giant prank.

A large part of this seems to be based on the fact that QAnon supporters are, on the whole, usually a bit older than your typical far-right internet troll.

To get an idea of what kind of people believe the QAnon conspiracy theory, Roseanne Barr is one of its most vocal supporters.

"wwg1wga" is shorthand among QAnon supporters for "where we go one, we go all."
Twitter: @therealroseanne

"wwg1wga" is shorthand among QAnon supporters for "where we go one, we go all."

Younger far-right internet personalities have been divided when it comes to QAnon stuff. Jack Posobiec announced on Saturday that he'd be "debunking" it in an interview with someone who started it.

One of the tricky things about QAnon, though, is that it's almost impossible to nail down who exactly started it or who is writing it now.

But it does appear that at least for 4chan trolls, the narrative about QAnon is shifting. Many now believe it was meant to be a prank on older conservatives.

This, of course, makes just as little sense as anything else to do with QAnon. It started on 4chan, which isn't exactly popular with older conservatives, and almost nothing about it has been distributed in a way that would suggest it was meant to be discovered by older internet users. For instance, it didn't start on Facebook or as an email forward.
archive.4plebs.org

This, of course, makes just as little sense as anything else to do with QAnon. It started on 4chan, which isn't exactly popular with older conservatives, and almost nothing about it has been distributed in a way that would suggest it was meant to be discovered by older internet users. For instance, it didn't start on Facebook or as an email forward.

While it's almost impossible to prove who started QAnon, there is some evidence that it was meant to be a prank all along. And more importantly, it's looking more and more likely that QAnon is actually a prank by leftists or anarchists to make the far-right look deranged.

Last month, an Italian leftist activist collective called the Wu Ming Foundation pointed to a book they published in the ’90s that is shockingly similar to QAnon.
Twitter: @wu_ming_foundt

Last month, an Italian leftist activist collective called the Wu Ming Foundation pointed to a book they published in the ’90s that is shockingly similar to QAnon.

In 1999, Roberto Bui, Giovanni Cattabriga, Federico Guglielmi, and Luca Di Meo, writing under the name "Luther Blissett," published an Italian novel called Q.

Luther Blissett was a name regularly adopted in the ’90s by leftists, anarchists, and general troublemakers in Italy. It was used for staging all kinds of pranks. The Luther Blissetts in different cities would occasionally communicate by phone, but for the most part the project just spread organically. Think of it like an analogue Guy Fawkes Anonymous mask.Three of the authors behind Luther Blissett — Bui, Cattabriga, and Guglielmi — told BuzzFeed News that the Blissett project was "a network of activists, artists and cultural agitators who all shared the name 'Luther Blissett.'"They now operate under the name "Wu Ming" or "No Name."
amazon.com

Luther Blissett was a name regularly adopted in the ’90s by leftists, anarchists, and general troublemakers in Italy. It was used for staging all kinds of pranks. The Luther Blissetts in different cities would occasionally communicate by phone, but for the most part the project just spread organically. Think of it like an analogue Guy Fawkes Anonymous mask.

Three of the authors behind Luther Blissett — Bui, Cattabriga, and Guglielmi — told BuzzFeed News that the Blissett project was "a network of activists, artists and cultural agitators who all shared the name 'Luther Blissett.'"

They now operate under the name "Wu Ming" or "No Name."

The plot of their novel Q is pretty similar in structure to the basics of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

It follows the journey of an unnamed Anabaptist religious radical across Europe during the 16th century. He joins various movements that emerge following the Protestant Reformation. The whole time he's being pursued by a spy for the Roman Catholic Church named Q. The book sparked all kinds of debates about what it's actually about, but its authors said it was meant to be autobiographical. "We often described it as 'playbook,' an 'operations manual' for cultural disruption," they said.Basically, Q is a handbook for activists who want to disrupt society.
amazon.co.uk

It follows the journey of an unnamed Anabaptist religious radical across Europe during the 16th century. He joins various movements that emerge following the Protestant Reformation. The whole time he's being pursued by a spy for the Roman Catholic Church named Q.

The book sparked all kinds of debates about what it's actually about, but its authors said it was meant to be autobiographical. "We often described it as 'playbook,' an 'operations manual' for cultural disruption," they said.

Basically, Q is a handbook for activists who want to disrupt society.

So, let's break this down. What are the similarities between an Italian novel from the ’90s and the QAnon conspiracy theory that's resulting in armed standoffs with police in the US?

"Coincidences are hard to ignore," Bui, Cattabriga, and Guglielmi said. "Dispatches signed 'Q' allegedly coming from some dark meanders of top state power, exactly like in our book."They also pointed to the fact that the Q from the QAnon community is described almost exactly like Luther Blissett used to be described, "an entity of about 10 people that have high security clearance."One of the most popular theories in the QAnon community is that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his own death in 1999 and became QAnon, which is also the year Q was first published."We can't say for sure that it's an homage," they said. "But one thing is almost certain: our book has something to do with it. It may have started as some sort of, er, 'fan fiction' inspired by our novel, and then quickly became something else."
Twitter: @Wu_Ming_Foundt

"Coincidences are hard to ignore," Bui, Cattabriga, and Guglielmi said. "Dispatches signed 'Q' allegedly coming from some dark meanders of top state power, exactly like in our book."

They also pointed to the fact that the Q from the QAnon community is described almost exactly like Luther Blissett used to be described, "an entity of about 10 people that have high security clearance."

One of the most popular theories in the QAnon community is that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his own death in 1999 and became QAnon, which is also the year Q was first published.

"We can't say for sure that it's an homage," they said. "But one thing is almost certain: our book has something to do with it. It may have started as some sort of, er, 'fan fiction' inspired by our novel, and then quickly became something else."

Ironically, it seems that even QAnon followers have noticed the similarities. A user last month highlighted the book, calling it "an old Q."

As for who could be carrying on their work in the 4chan age, Bui, Cattabriga, and Guglielmi are fairly certain that the main readers of Q in the US are leftist and anarchist activists.

Q was published in Italian a few months before the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, and then in several other languages in the 2000–2001 period. "It became a sort of night-table book for that generation of activists, the one that would be savagely beaten up by an army of cops during the G8 summit in Genoa, July 2001," they said. "It was successful all across Europe and in the English-speaking world with the exception of the US, where it got bad reviews, sold poorly and circulated almost exclusively in activist circles."
Pascal J Le Segretain / Getty Images

Q was published in Italian a few months before the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, and then in several other languages in the 2000–2001 period.

"It became a sort of night-table book for that generation of activists, the one that would be savagely beaten up by an army of cops during the G8 summit in Genoa, July 2001," they said. "It was successful all across Europe and in the English-speaking world with the exception of the US, where it got bad reviews, sold poorly and circulated almost exclusively in activist circles."

So while Bui, Cattabriga, and Guglielmi are convinced that QAnon started as a prank, they warn that that doesn't make it less dangerous.

"Let us take for granted, for a while, that QAnon started as a prank in order to trigger right-wing weirdos and have a laugh at them. There's no doubt it has long become something very different. At a certain level it still sounds like a prank. But who's pulling it on whom?" they said. They also point to the fact that even this article runs the risk of being sucked into the QAnon vortex and just adding more fuel to the fire. "If [QAnon's] perpetrators claimed responsibility for it and showed some evidence (for example, unmistakeable references to our book and the Luther Blissett Project), would the explanation itself become yet another part of the narrative, or would it generate a new narrative encompassing and defusing the previous one?"
Twitter: @Wu_Ming_Foundt

"Let us take for granted, for a while, that QAnon started as a prank in order to trigger right-wing weirdos and have a laugh at them. There's no doubt it has long become something very different. At a certain level it still sounds like a prank. But who's pulling it on whom?" they said.

They also point to the fact that even this article runs the risk of being sucked into the QAnon vortex and just adding more fuel to the fire. "If [QAnon's] perpetrators claimed responsibility for it and showed some evidence (for example, unmistakeable references to our book and the Luther Blissett Project), would the explanation itself become yet another part of the narrative, or would it generate a new narrative encompassing and defusing the previous one?"

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