The rise of QAnon isn’t surprising. Americans have long been sucked into conspiracy theories
I’m no less shocked than anybody else by the rise of the wacky QAnon conspiracy theory-turned-movement in this election year, but I’m not surprised by its viral spread.
After all, I’m a Black American. Therefore, as an uncle of mine counseled me decades ago, “If you’re not paranoid, you’re not paying attention.”
I get it. African Americans have a long sad history of being misled by real conspiracies, such as the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment or the 1969 FBI and Chicago police raid that killed Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.
Pay attention to QAnon and you’ll hear about a bizarre and patently false narrative that casts President Donald Trump as hero in a secret war against sadistic Satan-worshipping, bloodthirsty child sex-trafficking Democrats and other liberals.
All of the other major foes in Trump’s real world can be found in the world of “Q,” the name claimed by whoever was responsible for the initial October 2017 post on the anonymous message board 4chan.
The sheer, shocking ugliness of possible child sex trafficking is enough to make some otherwise rational people compromise their healthy skepticism, perhaps to a dangerous degree.
QAnon’s narrative, broadcast by a right-wing radio host, mirrored the earlier “Pizzagate” myth, which reportedly compelled a North Carolina man to fire a rifle inside a Washington, D.C., pizzeria in a misguided attempt to free imprisoned children from a basement that, as it turned out, didn’t exist.
Yet, for all its most bizarre aspects, the narrative of rich and powerful people committing sick and depraved crimes in secret sounds remarkably close to countless other conspiracy theories that I’ve been hearing in barber shops and other gathering spots throughout my adult life.
So I wasn’t too surprised when QAnon’s narrative reached into political races on my home turf. Two Chicago-area Republicans seeking U.S. House seats have promoted the movement on social media and, like President Trump, declined to denounce it.
Philanise White of Chicago is challenging Rep. Bobby Rush in the 1st Congressional District and Theresa Raborn of Midlothian, Ill., is doing the same against Rep. Robin Kelly in the 2nd Congressional District.