The QAnon movement was always based on neo-Nazi conspiracy theories — now the mask is slipping

The QAnon movement was always based on neo-Nazi conspiracy theories — now the mask is slipping
Photo via Screegrab.

We have noted in the past that the "QAnon" movement is not a set of new conspiracy theories, but a recasting of some of the most popular neo-Nazi, white supremacist, antisemitic themes of the last century for broader conspiracy consumption. Nazi-era antisemitic conspiracy theories declared that "Jews" were secretly controlling the world, that they were working to undermine governments and cultures, and that they drank the blood of children in secret rituals.

QAnon's version is identical: A shadowy cabal of "globalists" is secretly controlling the world, is working to undermine governments and cultures (for example, through a "great replacement" of Americans with new nonwhite immigrants, as supposedly funded by wealthy Jewish American George Soros), and is secretly trafficking children to harvest compounds from their blood. The most bizarre of Nazi and neo-Nazi themes have found eager new homes in the brains of supposed "real" Americans who have invariably settled on the same targets and solutions as their neo-Nazi enablers: Round up the "globalists"—meaning liberals, socialists, Democrats, those who fight for LGBT rights, those who treat immigrants with decency—and jail them. "Lock them up." Purge them.

The "everyday" Americans who have adopted QAnon beliefs as their own, insisting that the "child trafficking" or blood "harvesting" or something-something George Soros conspiracies are real, are Good Nazis. They are the sort of citizens who made Nazi Germany tick. They are sweet, patriotic parents of somebody, or children of somebody, and all they know in life is that their enemies must be defeated, even if defeating them means toppling democracy and/or supporting the most incompetent of tax-dodging lying rapist perverts.

Whether they can be reformed once they've gone down that rabbit hole is a subject for others to engage. Myself, I expect not. Human beings do not accidentally fall into believing their not-white or not-Christian or not-Republican neighbors are barely human saboteurs plotting behind the scenes to do whatever evil you might imagine. They started out that way, then fell into conspiracy holes that were pleasing because they ticked off all the boxes their previous paranoias needed to tick off.

The movement itself, however, has been drifting back to the rawer antisemitism that first crafted it.

VICE News reports that John Sabal, the influential QAnon promoter who will this week host a major QAnon conference at which four aspiring Republican lawmakers are scheduled to speak recommended on Sunday to his followers a notorious neo-Nazi conspiracy film blaming Jews as the architects of communism, World Wars I and II, and the sabotage of Naziism. "The most important historical film of all time," Sabal touted.

The posts were removed after they were "highlighted by extremist researchers," reports VICE—and Sabal claims through his partner that he never actually watched the film or knew that it was antisemitic. And yes, this is the "QAnon" provocateur with enough clout to collect Republican candidates from across the nation.

This isn't an isolated incident. VICE reports that other QAnon figures have similarly embraced the film, though none as prominent as Sabal has been. The "Q" movement is also attracting much attention and support among German neo-Nazis, who after all have a closer connection to many of the Q-adopted tropes now being exported by American conspiracists.

It hasn't stopped national Republicans from courting conspiracy leaders and allied militias, either.

QAnon may have taken some of its heaviest hits from being uniformly and absurdly wrong in all its preelection and post-election predictions about, well, everything, and from its top founder and likely Q pretender Ron Watkins, who distanced himself slightly after Trump's loss. (He's now running for Congress himself—in Arizona, of course.) That doesn't mean it's dead.

It's unclear, however, if QAnon believers are becoming more enamored with antisemitism than they once were or if the movement is sloughing off now-bored, less-radical Americans, leaving behind a more radical, neo-Nazi-adjacent core. Conservatism in general is increasingly flirting with antisemitic speech and candidates: In Idaho, a Republican with a long history of antisemitic speech, one who claims "all Jews are dangerous," is enjoying his local party's support for joining the local school board.

Extremist rhetoric in general is being rewarded rather than scorned by Republican voters. It's probably not surprising that the Republican slide into fascism could not help but stoke the same antisemitic sentiments that past versions have relied on. The QAnon, Trump, and Republican movements are all coalescing into one ball of hate and hoaxes; in the House and Senate, party leaders are at worst helping to promote the conspiracies, and at best remaining silent in efforts to ride the hate to new election victories.

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