The Rise of QAnon and the Conspiracy That Unhinged America’

One post on a 4Chan message board on the morning of Oct. 30th, 2017, saying that Hillary Clinton would be arrested, written by an anonymous user who would become known as ‘Q’, soon exploded into a group known today as QAnon.

The Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer tells The New Abnormal how millions of people both in the U.S. and around the world have become convinced of the most wild conspiracy theories, which he explores in his new book Trust The Plan: The Rise of QAnon and the Conspiracy That Unhinged America.

“These things inevitably fail to happen, I mean, when Q kind of makes a big splash saying ‘Hillary Clinton’s gonna be arrested in two weeks,’ and people go, ‘wow, okay, great’ and then it doesn’t happen, you have to ask why are we still dealing with QAnon six years later? Well, the reason is because people have all of these ways to square the cognitive dissonance in their heads,” Sommer explains. “It is almost like a mind virus where once it gets into your life, for many QAnon believers, it becomes really all-consuming. And if you think about it from their perspective, they’re hearing that everything in the world they’ve learned is a lie, and that the most powerful people in the world are drinking children’s blood and worshiping the devil. And so suddenly, you know, I think you can understand why that becomes the most important thing for them.”

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Sommer says former President Donald Trump’s acknowledgement of QAnon has only bolstered the group’s following.

“There was one poll that I think the Times summed up well is that, QAnon in the United States is more popular than a lot of major religions,” Sommer said. “From the perspective of QAnon believers, Donald Trump is the God figure. I mean, they jokingly call him the God emperor, maybe semi jokingly. He’s their savior figure. So for them, ever since QAnon started, what they wanted was an acknowledgement from Donald Trump.

“And today we have Donald Trump posting QAnon memes himself,” he said.

Sommer predicts QAnon’s prominence will only continue to grow as it spreads across the globe.

“Japan has a thriving QAnon scene with kind of varying factions. One of them, I think is called the Michael Flynn Q Army,” Sommer said. “In France, QAnon had a bunch of kidnapping plots, including one that was supposedly to overthrow the government in France.”

“QAnon in some ways can be so mutable that you can change it to local conditions,” he said.

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