On March 31, years ago, someone put a note in announcements that the space shuttle would land on Elmendorf at 6 a.m. An estimated 6,000 Anchorage residents rose early April 1 to find a viewing spot.
That was the most successful April Fools’ joke I had ever seen played — until QAnon came along.
QAnon, also known as Q, paints an imaginary picture of a sinister alternate universe, dangles their dark hook on the internet, luring millions of lost souls to find their calling.
Like going down the rabbit hole into a dark, sinister version of “Alice in Wonderland,” once you’re in, that’s your reality. QAnon’s victims find themselves in a universe that is upside-down and backwards, the kind of nonsensical logic that only happens in dreams.
Q keeps followers on the edge of their seats with ongoing sagas of ever-changing monumental predictions that never come true. Just as one preposterous prediction fails, QAnon’s Gurus throw out another even more preposterous prediction to take its place; predictions that, as clearly as Alice’s talking caterpillar, should be recognizable as fantasy.
Aimed at concerned but frustrated and gullible right-wing Republicans, Q’s first hook claims that voters have no control over their destiny because the world order is really run by a secretive cabal of Satan-worshiping child abusing pedophile Democrats. While mostly Democratic elites, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama also make Q’s list of deviants.
In addition to enriching themselves and raising billions for their cause by selling kidnapped children into every imaginable horror story, Q’s followers believe the pedophiles kill and eat some of their victims to extract a life-extending chemical called adrenochrome. Followers believe their own children and grandchildren are at risk.
QAnon adherents believe Donald Trump is secretly taking on the entire criminal conspiracy and will soon bring its members to justice. They hold him in reverence as though he is their Messiah. They examine his every word for coded language, meant just for them.
Though illogical, QAnon’s theories can’t be disproven to followers’ satisfaction, but Q’s predictions can.
When Q’s followers joined in on the storming of the Capitol, they truly believed they were doing what they had pledged their lives to do, “SAVE THE CHILDREN.” Q had predicted that Trump would declare martial law and send the military to help them. They expected Trump to arrest and execute the Democratic leadership and send the rest to Guantanamo. They have a name for Trump’s vengeful mass arrests and return; they call it — “THE STORM.”
Q’s followers were shocked when Biden was sworn in, and “THE STORM” didn’t happen. Some realized they had been actors in someone else’s fantasy and victims of an elaborate hoax. But most of them chose to “STICK WITH THE PLAN.”
They believe Biden isn’t really president, the military is in control and Trump will soon reoccupy the White House.
To date, not one of Q’s predictions has come true. Below are a few:
1. Hillary Clinton was to be arrested in 2017.
2. November 2020, Trump was going to win the election by a landslide.
3. December 2020, Trump’s Supreme Court appointments would vote to overturn the election.
4. Jan. 6, 2021, the Senate would refuse to certify Biden’s election.
5. March 4, 2020, Trump would reveal that he had been in control of America’s military all the time. He would retake the White House, declare martial law, and order the execution of thousands of human-trafficking pedophiles.
One would think that when it became obvious that these predictions weren’t true, they would realize that the bit about Winfrey, Hanks, Pope Francis, and the Dalai Lama selling and eating children probably isn’t true either.
But no, once down the rabbit hole, it’s like what the Cheshire Cat told Alice, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
I tell this story because someone very dear to me was sucked down the rabbit hole, starting with stories of children, including her own, in need of an army of true believers to protect them.
My suspicion is that QAnon is made up of a half dozen friends amusing themselves as they compete to see who can spin the most bizarre riddle and persuade disciples to preach it.
My friend was attending weekly meetings with people she described as concerned about human trafficking. Kidnapping and human trafficking is a real thing, but when I sent her information about a “real world” human trafficking case argued before the US Supreme Court, it wasn’t part of her fantasy universe, and she had no interest.
Testing my reaction, she shared a few of her QAnon beliefs. For example:
— From her weekly meetings, she learned that California’s many years of wildfires were caused by a Space Laser. Clearly rational thinking didn’t enter the class room. The simple fact is that Trump has an Air Force that would have detected and immediately destroyed the space laser following its first use.
I was not sure how to respond to several assertions of equally bizarre accretions, so I didn’t — big mistake.
QAnon is like a religion. Members have to “SICK WITH THE PLAN” and have faith that “THE STORM” will happen.
And then there is shunning. If in the company of someone who might lead one from Q’s truths, get away from them. By the time I realized I should have had a conversation about QAnon, it was too late.
My only hope is that someday my friend will realize there is no rabbit at the bottom of that rabbit hole and no children to save in Q’s factious universe. The children in need of her help are here in the real world.
If you see your friend slipping toward the rabbit hole, show interest and start a non-threatening dialogue. If you wait too long, their April Fools’ may become your Halloween.
Ray Metcalfe lives in Anchorage. He is a former two-term Alaska state legislator.