As the QAnon phenomenon becomes more central to critical political and public safety questions, I realize we need a new vocabulary to describe this and similar phenomena. Q is not a “conspiracy theory”. The faked moon landing was a conspiracy theory. Perhaps birtherism was a conspiracy theory, though one with similarities to QAnon because of its strong ideological valence. But Q is not a conspiracy theory. It’s a fascistic political movement which predicts and advocates mass violence against liberals (and everyone else outside its definition of true Americans) in an imminent apocalyptic political reckoning. What we call the ‘conspiracy theories’ are simply the storylines and claims that justify that outcome. They could easily be replaced by others which serve the same purpose.
In other words – and this is still a very basic confusion – the Q phenomenon is not a factual misunderstanding that more credible news sources or prevalent fact-check columns would deflate and tame. You can even see this play out in real time in what we might call Q ‘man on the street’ interviews in which a reporter dissects or debunks some claim the Q supporter believes. The response is invariably something like, “Well, there are a bunch of other bad things I heard they did.”