QAnon proves to be political cult of unreason


Infographic by Sophia DePhillips.

Maddie Hess, News Editor

This previously ran in our December 2021 print issue.

QAnon is an extremist alt-right group most known for its belief that the Democratic Party is a deep-state, Satan-worshipping pedophile ring.

Yes, it sounds weird, because that’s exactly what it is. The group was originally established after the 2016 presidential election, and it’s believed to have first become active in October 2017 when an anonymous user known as “Q” posted a series of pro-Trump ideologies on 4chan, an online message board. According to BBC News, these messages became known as “Q-drops” or “breadcrumbs” that were stocked full of harmful slogans riddled with false information. 

Originally, much of the world wrote off the group as yet another internet chain made by out-of-touch conspiracy theorists that would eventually fade out. However, within a short period of time, the group and their dangerous belief system were trending on many of the world’s most popular social networks, including Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Reddit. 

Many of these social media platforms have taken action against QAnon. For example, it’s been reported that Twitter has removed thousands of QAnon-linked accounts throughout 2020 and 2021 that spread the group’s corrupting principles. 

Despite this, thousands upon thousands of Americans began to subscribe to the various beliefs held by QAnon, the majority of which rested in conspiracy theories against the United States government and media. The FBI declared the group a domestic terrorist threat in 2019, but they have not slowed down their expansion and indoctrination of the public.

One of QAnon’s major conspiracy theories recently claimed that John F. Kennedy Jr. was going to return from the dead and become the vice president to Donald Trump when he eventually took back his “rightful” place as president of the United States in the 2024 election. 

Seeing as Kennedy Jr. died in 1999 off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard after his plane crashed into the ocean, many wonder how these individuals could believe this. According to The Washington Post, several theories have suggested that he faked his death and has been living in hiding as a financial services manager in Pittsburgh. 

 QAnon also believes that no president has been legitimate since 1871 because of the apparent misreading of the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871. This misreading has led the group to believe that the United States turned into a corporation. 

Therefore, according to them, Joe Biden should step down, and Donald Trump should then be reinstated as President of the United States. This is a completely illogical leap of faith led by delusional thinking. Unfortunately, it could, and would, spread much further.

The conspiracy came to a climax on Nov. 2, 2021, in Dallas, Texas. 

Hundreds of QAnon supporters lined the streets, bundled in jackets, and covered with umbrellas as they anxiously awaited JFK Jr.’s resurrection. 

Washington Post journalist Steven Monacelli reported that at exactly 12:30 p.m., the time the elder Kennedy was shot, the QAnon supporters stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Of course, Kennedy Jr. never showed up. He’s been dead for over two decades, and contrary to their theory, people don’t come back from that. This did not stop the group from subscribing to their absurd belief.

QAnon supporters stated that Kennedy Jr. would return that same evening at a Rolling Stones concert, as if the Rolling Stones could somehow miraculously summon the dead. Some believers even thought that they had seen other dead celebrities there, such as Robin Williams and Michael Jackson. 

What makes this theory so much more interesting is that it lacked the support from the mysterious “Q,” who is seen as the prophet for all of QAnon’s beliefs. When “Q” doesn’t subscribe to a belief, neither does QAnon. However, in this instance, that rule seems to have changed. 

The breakaway from holding the same views as “Q” shows that the group is expanding into smaller pockets with slightly different, and even more far-fetched, beliefs. 

Jared Holt, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab,  studies domestic extremism and expressed his concerns in an interview with The Washington Post.

“For people to be in the state of mind where they are utterly and hopelessly detached from reality, [it] opens up very dangerous possibilities for what that individual may do going forward,” Holt said.

He brings up a disturbing point: the idea that thousands of people across our nation feed into incomprehensible ideologies and shocking conspiracy theories makes the future of America look dim.  

Holt described these people as suffering from a “broader sickness,” poisoning our country and its inhabitants.

Along with the various social media networks banning QAnon participation, many online stores have also pledged to remove all merchandise promoting the terrorist group. These shops include Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. Despite this pledge, none of them have followed through on their promise.

All it takes is one click on Amazon to find a wide variety of shirts, flags, mugs, and much more covered with the “Q” and various slogans like “TRUMP JFK JR. 2024 SAVE AMERICA” and “JFK JR. ALIVE AND WELL IN PITTSBURGH.”

To add insult to injury, both Amazon and Etsy refused to remark when Forbes asked them to comment on the QAnon memorabilia for sale. The silence of big corporations enforces the idea that harmful messages, such as the ones touted by QAnon, can be spread without consequence. 

The terrifying reality is that QAnon supporters know no limit. This system of thought has changed people completely, stealing their personalities and consuming their personal thoughts. The group is quickly growing a cult-like following, and that proves to be dangerous, as misinformation often leads to misplaced anger, and at the worst, violence.