• September 17, 2021

Exclusive: Deep dive into the QAnon rabbit hole is essential reading

 Exclusive: Deep dive into the QAnon rabbit hole is essential reading

Rothschild appropriately devotes more of the text to exploring the toxic effects of QAnon’s spread than to debunking its claims or examining its origins, which he nonetheless does concisely and well. Importantly, he directly connects that interpersonal toxicity—the poisoned relationships, the unhinged behavior—arising from the movement to its broader social and political implications, manifested most memorably on Jan. 6.

Over the past year and more, we’ve seen QAnon spread during the COVID-19 pandemic to include anti-vaccination/anti-health restriction fanatics, as well as “Patriot” militiamen. We’ve seen the cult spread to law enforcement officers, and even small-town city halls.

The Storm is Upon Us is especially concerned with the effects of QAnon’s spread on families and friendships, and more broadly on communities, and ultimately the national electorate. Like my own book Red Pill, Blue Pill: How to Counteract the Conspiracy Theories That Are Killing Us, it offers some insights into how people are consumed by these behavior-altering belief systems based on authoritarian disinformation, what their friends and family members can do about it, and what they can’t do as well.

The fact that QAnon’s spread persists despite the ongoing failures of its predictions, and its originators’ utter disappearance after the November 2020 election, tells us that something more than a simple conspiracy cult is going on here. Rather, it—and the very real storm of authoritarian disinformation that besets democratic nations globally it represents—is a phenomenon with powerful social and political implications.

Rothschild boils it down:

QAnon is a cultish movement that’s not quite a cult, a movement with prophetic elements that’s not quite a religion, and a recipient of Russia boosting that’s entirely American. And despite being descended from long-running frauds, it’s not really a scam. …

… It’s a political movement that revolves not around patriotism or traditional conservative values, but bloody revenge against diabolical enemies. Its voters demand loyalty, fealty, blood in the streets, and the total overthrow of the political norms of the past.

The Storm is Upon Us is essential reading for our times, because it provides important insights into the authoritarian tide that threatens to overwhelm our democracy. Rising to meet that challenge requires understanding its many dimensions, and this book fills that need admirably.

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Reporters Team

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