THE #QANON INAUGURATION COMPLICATION (or, THE FOLLY OF NOT DOUBTING)
This week presented a reckoning for the murderous Anti-Satanist #Qanon conspiracy, but perhaps not the one we might have expected. And definitely not the one they expected either, but more on that in a minute.
Ahead of Wednesday’s unlikely uneventful inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, conspiracy-besotted #Quacks did what they do best: pin their hopes to a soap bubble, then step on the pin.
As you’ve perhaps read in various news outlets, they expected Men In Black to suddenly rush in and arrest Biden et al just before he took the oath. Because he’s a secret child-eating Satanist, in case you came in late.
Judging from their live chats, some even expected to see various inaugural guests decapitated on live TV, which I guess would have been okay, since people were already socially distanced outside the splash zones.
That’s not what I’m here to write about, though: After this week, I’m suddenly much less interested in what Anti-Satanist cranks believe. Rather, I’m intrigued by the question of HOW they believe.
After noon DC time passed without a sudden coup and Biden swore the oath on what appeared to be a vintage Necronomicon, the atmosphere on #Qanon-ridden social media was, ah, a bit of a downer.
Over on the Great Awakening (the baffling digital snake pit #Qanon followers retreated to after most real social media drove them into the sea like possessed swine), one cult member wailed, “I don’t see any helicopters coming in. I don’t see Marines,” which sounds like someone perilously misunderstanding the rules to I Spy.
“Trump failed, he failed on his biggest promise,” another moped into their morning coffee, leaving us to wonder which of the ex-president’s children is behind that particular handle.
“LET THE CHILD SACRIFICES COMMENCE!” the headline of one a briefly popular thread blared. I’m fascinated by the editorial process that decided this statement was not strong enough on its own without resorting to caps lock.
I think my favorite comment of the day comes from the guy who said, “Now that we’re going to be purged, there’s nothing to stop the overrun of the human species.” That’s right, the dude who wore a Creed t-shirt to your senior prom was the last line of defense, without him there’s nothing between us and the Kodan Armada.
For some of Trump’s most loyal cultists, this really is the end of the line. But as predicted, many others bounced back just a few hours later with new and more outlandish explanations how by losing they had actually seized final victory.
“Since conspiracies are ‘top down’ beliefs, the faithful will continue to believe the core idea even if all of the evidence proves false,” folklorist Bill Ellis explained to me last year. And what do you know, he was right; it’s as if he’s studied folk’s lore or something.
What does surprise me, though, is the WAY that these people believe. I knew that they’d convinced themselves that the inauguration would be the date that their prophecies came true–because it was the last possible date remaining, which I assume made the math pretty easy.
Seeing the chat responses live, though, the suddenness of their trauma took me aback. The most common sentiments were variations of, “I don’t understand” or “What’s happening?” or “How could this happen?”
And here’s the thing: Those were not rhetorical questions. They actually didn’t know. Almost nobody responded as if their worst fears had suddenly been confirmed, because it turns out they’d never had those fears.
I always knew what these people believed: That child-eating Satanist run the world and that god appointed the owner of Miss Teen USA to kill all of them.
But I’d assumed they believe things the same way that I believe things: sincerely, but mixed with anxiety and doubt. For example, I believed–correctly, as we see–that Joe Biden would win the 2020 presidential election, a conclusion I based on things like polling data, county demographics, and historical trends.
But a not-insignificant part of me remained scared that I might be wrong. Had the Путин/Trump ticket pulled off an upset, I wouldn’t have sat amazed at my computer wondering, “How could this happen?” I would already know, having anticipated the ironic Hell of that moment in my darkest times–because I’m normal.
Cracks run deep even in people’s profound religious beliefs, something I confirm through what I call the Turbulence Test: On any given commercial aircraft, a majority of passengers probably believe that if the plane crashes they’ll go to Heaven. But when the flight hits turbulence, zero people respond by saying, “Oh good.”
Instead they scream, because they think they’re about to fucking die. Sure, they believe that would work out for them in the end–but they don’t BELIEVE believe. That kind of belief is not in human nature: A loud minority in the parliament of our minds always at least suggests doubt. The more profound our beliefs, the more persnickety the doubts. That’s my experience anyway.
But not so for the Anti-Satanists of #Qanon. I’m amazed to discover that they believe in a way that precluded doubt and left them incapable of confronting the evidence of their own eyes. Maybe they thought this made them stronger; or maybe they just didn’t think at all.
For my part, I’m happy to entertain doubts about my beliefs as a Satanist, or about anything else. It’s not exactly a pleasant part of the human experience, but neither is elementary school, and I’m still glad I did it.
John 20 preaches, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” And yeah, I guess people like that had better be blessed; after all, they need all the help they can get…