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Why The QAnon Cult Is Obsessed With Child Trafficking And Kiddie Porn

Reprinted with permission from Alternet


Ben Gibson, a failed Republican congressional candidate who shared QAnon content on social media, was arrested in December on four counts of child pornography. A few months earlier, Joshua Jennings was arrested on first-degree murder charges for allegedly killing his girlfriend's 10-month-old daughter. Investigators found that Jennings had plastered the QAnon associated #savethechildren hashtag all over his Facebook wall, interspersed with rants about killing pedophiles.

The central tenet of QAnon is that a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles controls all major institutions that must be cleansed by Donald J. Trump in a wave of purifying violence. Given that, it's odd that the faithful are so tolerant of child sexual exploitation in Trumpland itself. Trump used to party with billionaire child sex criminal Jeffery Epstein, and in 2002 described the financier as "a terrific guy," adding: "It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."

George Nader, high-ranking diplomatic advisor to Donald Trump and QAnon favorite General Mike Flynn, is serving 10 years in prison for child pornography and trafficking a minor for sex. Ruben Verastigui, a senior digital strategist for the Trump campaign, was arrested in early February on federal child pornography charges. Trump's 2016 Oklahoma campaign chair and a Trump delegate from Kentucky are currently doing time for child trafficking.

QAnon's preoccupation with child porn is a result of overlapping themes in chan culture, conspiracy culture, Evangelical culture, and parenting/wellness culture. The theory gelled in poorly moderated spaces where actual child porn and jokes about it were a fact of life.

QAnon was born in the fetid swamps of 4chan imageboard, where the speech was free and child porn was available to those who knew where to look. Child porn was officially against the rules, but the chans were founded as forums for unbridled free speech, so their moderation protocols are purposefully lax. Pedophilia jokes and tropes fit 4chan's shock-jock ethos. The unofficial mascot of 4chan is a character known as Pedobear.

Needless to say, the vast majority of chan users are not pedophiles, but a loosely moderated, anonymous imageboard dedicated to pushing the limits of free speech will inevitably attract more than its share of unsavory characters.

Pizzagate, the forerunner to QAnon, came about because 4chan users read John Podesta's hacked emails and mistook Podesta's genuine love of food for a coded language that was already in circulation on 4chan.

"Pizzagate exists because 4chan users had slang for child porn, like 'cheese pizza' (derived from 'CP')," explains Q Origins, the anonymous researcher who pieces together the prehistory of QAnon on the Q Origins Project Twitter feed, "This is why those same people glommed on to the idea that pizza was pedophile slang."

"Q" of QAnon fame was one of many chan users ("anons") who posed as anonymous government insiders doling out cryptic clues for readers of 4chan's Politically Incorrect board, /pol/. This genre was so common that anons nicknamed it "LARPing" (a derisive comparison to "swords and shields" live action role-playing). LARPers like FBIAnon and MegaAnon explored many of the same themes as QAnon, but never went mainstream. Q Origins speculates that QAnon has a life beyond the chans because of Q's ability to tone down the overt racism and sexism of /pol/ to a level closer to what you'd see on Fox News.

QAnon draws on all the conspiracy theories that came before it. Crimes against children, specifically ritualistic atrocities, figure prominently in conspiracy theories throughout history. You can hear the echo of Blood Libel allegations against the Jews in QAnon's belief in a Satanic cabal of child abusers.

Like all conspiracy theories, QAnon reflects the hopes and fears of its co-creators. If you spend a lot of time on an imageboard that's saturated with pedophilia references and studded with actual child porn, child porn probably seems like even more of a threat than it does to the average person.

The early QAnon evangelists brought the fledgling faith to the larger world, starting with YouTube and Alex Jones' media empire, InfoWars. This was a critical step in QAnon going mainstream. Chans are an insular world that is only navigable by people with a fair amount of technical sophistication and a high tolerance for obscenity and abuse. QAnon's spread across more user-friendly platforms, particularly Facebook, brought the theory to a normie audience, including evangelical Christians.

Evangelicals played a key role in fomenting a moral panic over imaginary child sex abuse in daycares in the 1980s and 1990s while overlooking sex abuse in their own churches. It's comforting to imagine that children are abused by The Other when the reality is that most children are abused by the people closest to them.

QAnon's focus on child trafficking also became a powerful recruiting feature as the conspiracy theory spread online within the massive parenting and wellness subcultures. Appeals to #savethechildren resonated with moms and some dads who wouldn't otherwise have been interested in QAnon. After all, every 21st-century parent worries about child abuse. Everyone's against child sex trafficking. It's a lot more socially acceptable to share content that's ostensibly about stopping trafficking than it is to talk about the other side of QAnon, the prophecy of political violence and authoritarian rule.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

On Viral Video Recorded Jan. 5, Rep. Greene Says ‘Get Ready To Fight For America Tomorrow’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Less than 24 hours before thousands of Trump supporters would storm the U.S. Capitol in an armed and deadly insurrection Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) stood with that same building in the background and told MAGA adherents to "get ready to fight for America tomorrow."

Greene, a racist and QAnon conspiracy theorist who has not stopped making incendiary remarks even after being stripped of her committee assignments last week, also told supporters, "Trump was re-elected for four more years," which is a lie, part of the Big Lie Trump and his cult have been spreading since the November election.

The Congresswoman, who last week told her colleagues in the House that she was "allowed to believe" the QAnon cult claims to were real, also falsely claims the Electoral College vote was "stolen."

Stressing that "tomorrow," the day of the Capitol coup, is a "very important day in America's history," Greene says, "we can't allow our integrity of our elections to be stolen."

Greene made the remarks in a video posted on January 5 to her verified Instagram account.

Scott Dworkin, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Democratic Coalition posted the video to Twitter Tuesday morning, and it has gone viral. The video has been viewed nearly 875,000 times in just under 14 hours.

Watch:


GOP Crazies Aren’t The Democrats’ Problem

Let's start with Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) but keep it short. The Georgia Republican's honking-mad commentary speaks of dementia, not anything approaching political discourse. She's getting gobs of attention, but then, so do car accidents.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had it exactly right when he said that "loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party."

And so, why are so many Democrats and friends on left-leaning Twitter so bent on going ape over her every crackpot eruption? Because she's entertainment, and entertainment is what American politics has become. "Saturday Night Live" hit the painfully funny nail on the head when it identified Donald Trump as a "former social media influencer."

After Greene expressed regret for her bizarre comments, including the assertion that the 9/11 attacks never happened, fellow Republicans responded by giving her a standing ovation. That's how low their bar for acceptable governance has fallen.

Greene's marker for success seems measured in publicity. And her hero Trump ran the master class in getting people to talk about him.

In the jaws of the COVID-19 health crisis, he tweeted insults at scientists and endangered the public by countering expert health advice — but, boy, did he get media attention. The so-called mainstream media were complicit. They expanded their audience by obsessing over the freak show. That fed Trump still more audience.

"Whatabout?" Trump supporters will ask. What about Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who, like Greene, aired some anti-Semitic sentiments? There was a difference. The Minnesota congresswoman tied her ignorant remarks to a real place called Israel and not lasers from outer space. Omar, at the least, was tethered to some kind of reality.

I find her whining more bothersome. As a Somali refugee plucked from a camp in Kenya — given a university education in North Dakota and a seat in Congress — Omar might have been expected to temper her disappointments that America wasn't as cushy as her family was led to believe. Guess the room service wasn't up to her standards.

But while Omar is a burden to the Democratic Party, she's also hardly a hero there. In 2020, her hyper-liberal Minneapolis district was highly motivated to vote Trump out of office, but it gave her only 64 percent of the vote. Joe Biden got 80 percent.

As for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she is a smart woman but exerts more energy building her celebrity than helping the Democratic Party maintain power. And if she would talk less about her personal triumphs and travails, that would be OK with me.

Have you noticed how unentertaining President Joe Biden is? He's quietly pushing through an economic stimulus. He's getting COVID vaccines out to the public while urging the public to minimize new infections. And he's telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that Trump is no longer in a position to serve him.

He's doing all this without incendiary commentary about his political adversaries. When bipartisanship happens, he expresses gratitude.

The @JoeBiden feed has been issuing only one or two tweets a day, probably not written by him. The subjects center on such concerns as the pandemic, foreign relations and the economic crisis, important matters that — sorry to tax anyone's brain — are also complex.

When a reporter asked his press secretary, Jen Psaki, if the White House had a comment on Greene's latest howl on social media, she curtly responded: "We don't. And I'm not going to speak further about her in this briefing room."

Biden has a presidency to run. From a purely political perspective, the more Republican crazies make the world wonder about them, the better it is for Democrats. But let's be frank: None of this is good for the country.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.