Dispatches From Q-Land is an occasional Paste series delving into the seamy underbelly of the QAnon conspiracy theory on right-wing social media platforms such as Parler, Gab and Telegram. It’s a disturbing task, but only by paying attention to these dangerous extremists can we understand the nature of their ever-evolving delusion at any given moment, and hope to understand what they might do next.
It’s been a while at this point since we formally checked in with the zealots of the QAnon conspiracy theory, at least in the form of actual reporting here at Paste. In the past, I’ve detailed everything from the fact that QAnon believers thought Hurricane Ida was a “man-made storm” created by the nefarious Deep State, to the time they completely ignored the likely identity of Q being revealed, to the way they split into battling factions in a QAnon civil war over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But ultimately, you can only repeat the same information a finite number of times, so I decided to leave the QAnon reporting in stasis for a while, even as I continued to keep an eye on the tone of their chatter on extreme right-wing social media hubs such as Gab. I resolved to come back and publish again if and when the Anons (as they call themselves) sunk to some new low. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the war in Ukraine has brought out the very best in this modern form of internet meme-based psychosis.
If you want some kind of unifying theorem that you can use to determine how the QAnon groupthink will feel about any given subject, I find that the following two maxims will serve you well:
A. Whenever a general consensus on a topic has been reached by journalists, researchers, scientists, civil rights leaders and functioning society as a whole, Anons will interpret this as a sure sign that their duty is to throw themselves wholeheartedly behind the opposite position, regardless of what it might be. If 99% of scientists conclude that oxygen is a necessity for human life, a large chunk of Anons will begin trying to hold their breath out of spite.
B. They’ll find a way to call for the deaths and general extermination of their enemies while doing so, and then deny they’re doing it moments later.
Every conversation on Gab is guaranteed to end up at “public executions” eventually, if it continues long enough. This is effectively the Godwin’s law of Gab.
By simply applying those two rules, it’s easy to see how the QAnon sphere ends up in a position where they not only take the side of Russia/Putin in the ongoing war in Ukraine, but also find a way to connect the Russia-Ukraine conflict to every other conspiracy that has ever fallen under the extremely broad QAnon banner. As ever, they perceive every single story in the news as just one more part of a rich tapestry that is destined to end in “The Storm,” the prophesied moment when all of their enemies (or generally anyone they dislike) are rounded up and executed in order to shuffle in the glorious new era of American exceptionalism. Never will you see an Anon more filled with patriotic glee and wild-eyed joy than at the prospect of what they so often refer to as the coming “public executions.” Only the promise of their coming vindication gets them through each day.
Never forget that fact, when we’re talking about QAnon: Everything they believe tends to lead toward some promise of violence or apocalyptic cleansing that will “fix” what they perceive as a world that has left them behind.
But first, let’s talk about how Anons are viewing the war in Ukraine, and why they now see Vladimir Putin as some kind of right-wing savior figure.
To even try to explain “why” so many QAnon adherents would profess gushing love for Vladimir Putin or Russia, or wish aloud for Ukraine’s extermination, is almost unnecessary if you understand the QAnon mindset—they need almost no justification to do either of those things besides “the media says Russia is bad, so therefore they must be good.” It really is that simple of a knee-jerk reaction for a large swath of Anons, who are forming opinions based on image memes that simply compile a long list of unsavory left-wing sources that “stand with Ukraine,” in the process implying that any “free thinking” Anon would do the opposite. This is how QAnon influencers frame the issue: “the bad guys support Ukraine, so Russia must therefore be the good guys.” This is the luxury of existing in a world where you can afford to paint everything in absolute hues of black and white, as Ron Watkins (who was more than likely Q himself, as you’ll recall) does below. Q is running for Congress in Arizona, by the way. It’s going comically badly.
For a lot of Anons, that kind of dualistic thinking is literally all they need to proclaim Putin as their new hero. The more enterprising influencers and internet personalities, on the other hand, immediately get to work concocting new conspiracy theories that they can center around the Ukraine-Russia conflict, as a way of drawing it into the broader QAnon conspiracy web that promises that Donald Trump is still somehow the secret U.S. President, still battling against “The Cabal” of demon reptiloid politicians drinking the blood of children in a grand, Satanic conspiracy. Thus, you end up with frenzied new theories, such as the following:
— Russia is invading Ukraine to expose secret U.S. germ warfare and biological weapons labs, in order to prove … something or other related to the Deep State’s use of COVID (which may or may not exist, still) as a weapon, or a hoax, depending on the day. The U.S., in this scenario, apparently decided to place its most secret and sensitive bioweapons research labs right next to the Russian border, in what I can only describe as a not-at-all-inconvenient move for the Deep State’s nefarious plans.
— Putin is a crusader for Christian rights, and is leading his righteous Christian warriors against a Zionist (there’s always a twist of antisemitism on Gab) or demonic Ukranian state led by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was perpetrating a “genocide” of Russian-speaking Christians. Zelenskyy’s past as an actor and comedian will frequently be cited by Anons as some sort of proof that he’s an illegitimate leader, by the same people who frequently cite former actor Ronald Reagan as one of the greatest American presidents. Here’s no less than Gab’s founder and CEO Andrew Torba, calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “Christians liberating other Christians.” Never mind the fact that these people are almost entirely unaware of the differences between Protestant Christianity and the Russian Orthodox Church. This view also requires Anons to completely ignore Russia’s alliance with China (who they hate), but they’re perfectly happy to do exactly that.
— The entire war in Ukraine is a big hoax, a false flag operation being perpetrated by the Ukrainian government against its own people in order to turn the rest of the world against Russia and Putin. As if Putin really needed so much help in being loathed on the world stage.
— And of course, there are grand theories that manage to tie Donald Trump back into the whole debacle (in a positive light), as he’s positioned as a secret ally to the virtuous Putin, who is sitting back and allowing his ally to root out evil Deep State players in Ukraine. Once the Russian conquest of Ukraine is complete, Putin will then apparently pay back the favor by volunteering a treasure trove of secret information—somehow gained during the war, don’t ask how—that will send the Deep State house of cards crashing down, ushering in The Storm. When will this happen? Chatter is that the answer is “two weeks.” Hint: The Storm has been “two weeks” away for roughly 6 years at this point. After all, you can’t rush what this guy calls “chess at a global level that boggles the mind.” These are SENSITIVE MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS, folks!
Because that’s the important thing when considering the worldwide implications of a war on the other side of the planet: Not “how many civilians will be killed?”, but “How can Donald Trump benefit?”
Of course, what should never be forgotten while watching QAnon believers wax rhapsodic about Vladimir Putin and the atrocities being committed in the invasion of Ukraine is that they desperately want to see most of the same atrocities committed against American citizens, provided they would categorize those people as enemies. And I’m sorry if I’m the one breaking the news to you, but if you’re reading this post, that likely includes you.
This is of course one of the grand ironies of the beliefs that most Anons hold—they romantically envision themselves as freedom fighters who are dedicated mind, body and soul to nationalism and American institutions such as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but in reality they have little to any reverence for law or freedom. Their heroes are dictator strongmen such as Putin who have thwarted democracy in their own countries at every turn to install themselves as autocratic leaders for life, and most are still praying for the return of Donald Trump, who attempted to overturn free elections in the U.S. They want to see Trump dispose of democracy in the U.S., while simultaneously claiming to be saving democracy in the U.S. And how do you do that? Well, by killing everyone who disagrees of course.
Anons love buzzwords and catchphrases, and some of their favorites in this dark corner of their psyche are words like “military tribunals” and “televised executions.” They envision a great purging of Deep State players, ranging from the obvious players such as Biden’s cabinet, to the other parents who disagree with them at school board meetings. All will be stripped of any form of due process—remember, Anons don’t actually have any fondness for the law, except when it serves them—and simply put to death by “tribunals.” Trump and co. will then broadcast this stuff far and wide, as millions of Americans pop their popcorn and gleefully watch human beings put to death for entertainment. This is the last thing that millions of Anons go to sleep every night praying for, and you can scarcely get involved in any conversation on Gab without things eventually ending up there. Here’s a little taste.
As I’ve occasionally observed about QAnon believers in the past, one of the most disturbing aspects of their lust for violence is that it’s often not even hidden or couched in some kind of rhetoric that violence is “an unfortunate necessity.” Previous cults or regimes of this nature at least reasoned that they should pretend to not gleefully be anticipating the deaths of their enemies, for the sake of optics. It’s traditional to claim “We don’t want violence, but they forced our hand,” or “we had to do it to them before they did it to us.” Anons, on the other hand, dispense with those formalities almost entirely. They see violence as a reward they’ve been promised by years of Q drops and influencers, a carrot dangling on a stick that keeps them moving forward. They see violence as their salvation, the thing that will purge all the bad parts of their lives away. Suffice to say, it’s deeply frightening—how do you reason with someone who is convinced that you’re a demon in service of a Satanic cabal?
Speaking of Q drops, Q himself has still been completely MIA since before the end of 2020, meaning that it’s been almost 1.5 years since Anons lost their de facto leader. The squabbling and division of power and influence continues to fill in that vacuum in all the time since, but the bloodlust sadly remains just as prominent a part of the Anon psyche.
I can’t get back into the swing of things of reporting on the mindset of QAnon without at least mentioning their latest attempts to grapple with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, which just roughly passed its two year milestone in the U.S. As we’ve reported on in the past, Anons remain deeply conflicted and beset with cognitive dissonance on the subject of COVID and the accompanying vaccines, largely because Donald Trump’s ego has continued to compel him to take credit for the development of those vaccines. This puts Anons in a bizarre situation where they tend to simultaneously believe that the “vaxx” is a “poisonous bioweapon for global depopulation,” but that it’s not a problem that Donald Trump has personally convinced millions of conservative Americans to receive that vaccine. Instead, they have to come up with reasons for why it’s okay that the President in exile keeps telling people to poison themselves. Which is how you end up with big blocks of nonsense like the following.
And in case you forgot what kind of person is running this place, here’s Gab founder Andrew Torba once again.
Don’t worry, though—things will all be okay during the second coming of Donald Trump, when he unleashes the SPACE FORCE, and the vaccines are revealed as … “benign glucose injections.” Yes, that’s something that actual people believe.
Nothing that I can say could possibly sum up the absurdity of this situation more succinctly or perfectly than the image above. We truly are living through the most stupid era in human history. We can only hope to survive it as best we can.