I used to think self-styled “progressives” and Black Lives Matter activists had coined the dumbest political slogan of the twenty-first century: “Defund the Police.” Democratic strategist James Carville called it “the three worst words ever in the English language.” Not for nothing has President Biden gone out of his way to declare, as reported by the New York Times’ Charles Blow, that “when it comes to public safety in this nation, the answer is not ‘defund the police.’ It’s ‘fund the police.’”
Ordinary citizens may have mixed feelings about cops, but everybody wants help fast when they dial 911—a point so elementary only the smuggest kind of intellectual could fail to understand it.
So, naturally, MAGA Republicans have gone them one better. “Defund the FBI,” chants Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. The Georgia Republican insists that “Joe Biden has weaponized the FBI and DOJ against President Trump and his supporters.”
She’s selling T-shirts and ball caps with the motto for $30 each on her campaign website. Amazon has a page offering anti-FBI gear for half that price. Be the first on your block to offer support for bank robbers, kidnappers, Russian spies, and your friendly neighborhood terrorist cell.
Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Co), Paul Gosar (R-TX) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and other members of the Mighty Trump Art Players have endorsed similar notions. There’s even a guy running for the Florida legislature who posted a notice on Twitter to the effect that “Under my plan, all Floridians will have permission to shoot FBI, IRS, ATF and all other feds on sight!”
Remember when Texas led the nation in deluded right-wing cranks? The Sunshine State’s definitely catching up.
Maybe that’s why God sent this hurricane to wet them down.
See, anybody can play at being a prophet, ascribing divine intent to random, unconnected events. All that’s necessary is absolute shamelessness. There’s an irreducible number of superstitious fools who need End Times melodrama to keep them stimulated.
Me, I prefer baseball.
But speaking of melodrama, there’s Donald J. Trump, the former president who can’t seem to make up his mind. One minute he says he’s being persecuted by FBI agents who planted classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, and the next he tells Fox News’s Sean Hannity that “If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, it’s declassified. Even by thinking about it, because you’re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you’re sending it.”
Never mind that, historically speaking, the FBI has long been by far the most politically conservative agency of the U.S. government. Even if you buy the mental telepathy angle, these things cannot both be true.
A rational observer would see Trump’s alibi as a de facto confession.
So naturally Trump has turned away from rational observers and toward QAnon, the religio-political millenarian cult that claims, among other things, that the Democratic Party and the “Deep State” are controlled by a cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles led by Hillary Clinton, and that Trump (along with long-deceased John F. Kennedy, Jr.) is leading a heroic, clandestine war against it.
Things were supposed to have come to a head on Inauguration Day, 2021—the “Great Awakening” adepts called it—when Trump would be re-instated, JFK Jr. would emerge from hiding and Hillary’s monstrous allies would be arrested and publicly executed.
Needless to say, the failure of this prophecy occasioned a certain amount of re-calculating, but True Believers throughout history have risen to the challenge. Cults tend to fade out gradually; rarely all at once. Over time, ridicule has greater force than reason.
With Citizen Trump leading the parade, QAnon is currently riding high. No doubt partly due to his growing legal peril—the Jan. 6 grand jury investigation, the New York lawsuit aimed at putting the Trump Organization out of business, and the DOJ’s criminal probe into stolen Top Secret documents—the former president’s political rallies have grown increasingly other-worldly.
He, his family and his supporters, Trump told an impassioned crowd last week in Wilmington, N.C., all face “torment, persecution and oppression.” Recorded music similar what some called “the QAnon theme song,” induced hundreds to raise their arms in a one-finger salute signifying unity.
“Where we go one, we go all,” cultists assure each other.
Absent clinical paranoia, it’s not clear how Trump’s impassioned followers imagine themselves personally threatened. Nevertheless, millions do imagine exactly that. But are they prepared to go to war for him? To threaten large-scale civic violence to rescue his mangy orange hide from criminal prosecution? That’s the implied threat.
I, for one, seriously doubt it. QAnon is essentially an online phenomenon, an aggregation of cranks sitting at home alone getting all worked up over silly fantasies. Political pornography. Nobody with anything to lose is going to risk it to save Trump from himself.
Soon enough, he’ll be history, and QAnon with him.