One of the reasons belief in QAnon has persisted is that constantly renews itself. The conspiracy theory that President Trump and a small military intelligence cadre are on the verge of purging the deep state has a built-in ability to pull items out of the chaos of the daily news, and suck them into its mythology, and spit them back out as “research.”
This is how you keep a conspiracy theory going when the guru behind it has been silenced, as Q has been with the collapse of 8chan. And given that much of the daily news is terrible for Trump, it’s vital that Q followers reinterpret what’s happening not as a cornered presidency careening toward collapse, but as the final stage-setting before the glorious mass arrest and destruction of the deep state. Remember, Q holds Trump up as a God-given savior of America and freedom. Such a person can never look bad, in any capacity.
So we’re seeing this reinterpretation of the news in the impeachment drive, which has been recast as a convoluted conspiracy theory that the Democrats hacked their own server with the help of Ukraine, only for Trump to trap them into impeaching him to force “the truth” out into the light.
And we’re seeing it in the chaos in Northern Syria, where thanks to Trump’s seemingly random pullout of American forces, Turkey has violently invaded the Kurdish-held territory – causing a humanitarian nightmare. QAnon followers in particular, and slavish Trump acolytes in general, need to find an alternate explanation for the total feckless incompetence of their god king stabbing America’s allies in the back. And so, they’ve decided it’s fake news.
The conspiracy is complex, and its details vary based on which Q guru you’re reading. But the gist is that Trump is removing America from the “endless wars” that previous presidents (all of whom are in the cabal that rules the world) have left us mired in. And so, the deep state is faking Turkey’s invasion of Syria – and the casualties that it’s created – to stop the powers in the region from reaching their own peace agreements. Like QAnon already believes with North Korea, everything in Syria has already been dealt with, the deep state is on the run, and the only way they can fight back is by skewing public opinion against Trump.
To that end, everything you’re seeing from Syria is fake. The footage of military attacks and fleeing ISIS prisoners? Fake or re-purposed from other sources. The graphic photos and videos of dead and gravely wounded civilians? Crisis actors. The international outrage against the Turkish attack on the Kurds, and at the American president who allowed it to happen? Just shills being shills. In reality, everything is under control, and the cabal terrorists are being rooted out, ThankQ.
So just like we’ve seen time and time again, pro-Trump conspiracy theorists are working hard to discredit the things you are watching. After all, it was Donald Trump himself who told his flock last year, “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” The Trumpist obsession with “fake news” and immediately disbelieving anything from a source they don’t approve of has had two equally poisonous effects on popular discourse.
The first is that it’s left a sizable part of the population with a form of self-inflicted brain damage where they simply can’t process news items that aren’t favorable. Hence, Republicans screaming that impeachment is unconstitutional, or that we should stab our former allies in the back because hey, they didn’t hit the beaches at Normandy. The second is that the errors and inconsistencies that come out of a chaotic and fast-moving battlefield environment are transformed into focused and deliberate attacks by the deep state against the Truth.
This has come out so far in a couple of incidents that QAnon gurus are frantically pushing as “proof” that the elaborate deception is a deep state hail mary to stop Trump. One is the horrific video of an anguished Kurdish mother holding what appears to be her dead child and cursing out Trump and Erdogan; the other is ABC broadcasting unrelated footage of a shooting range as if it were live video from the front lines in Syria.
The second video goes like this: ABC screwed up. They put footage of a shooting and explosion at a Kentucky gun range event in 2017 and called it nighttime combat between Kurdish forces and the Turkish military. It’s not clear whether they did it on purpose or accidentally, but they were caught, pulled the video down, and issued an apology. The most likely explanation is that someone at ABC thought the video was genuine and put it up without vetting – a common occurrence in covering breaking news, where mass shootings are often dogged by reports of a second shooter that turn out to be rumors or erroneous.
If that’s the case, it’s regrettable, and will be used by the right wing grievance machine as “proof” that the “MSM” is out to get Trump by any means necessary.
The first video, of the Kurdish mother weeping and holding her deceased child, is trickier. It was posted on Twitter at the end of the week and has racked up two million views, even as no mainstream news source has been able to identify the woman, or indeed, confirm that the child was dead. Of course, there are numerous reports from well-established correspondents in Syria of civilian casualties, and in particular, dead children. But this is the first piece of video footage that would seem to show the horror firsthand.
But since to the Q team and Trump’s slavish followers, Trump is a god king who can do no wrong, all of this is fake. And so they’ve diligently picked apart the video of the apparently dead girl for proof that it’s all a hoax, and the seem to have found it. The girl does appear to blink and move several times. Gotcha, right? A few internet slueths have looked at two minutes of video and cracked open the deep state, anti-Trump deception that probably took months or years to plan, right?
No. Because according to reporters on the ground, the girl is not dead – “merely” very sick and likely close to death. And the mother’s anguished cries over her missing husband and dead daughter were mistranslated, with a common Arabic word that means both “dead” and “nearly dead” being used in the wrong context.
I don’t speak Arabic and can’t confirm if that’s true. But others can. According to journalist and expert in Kurdish politics Mutlu Civiroglu, the video and the mother’s anguish are genuine, and her husband is missing, but the girl is alive. For now, anyway. It’s quite likely that her sickness was exacerbated by the stress of having to run from potential Turkish killers.
The point of all of this is that propaganda is thick on social media right now. It’s thick among Turkish and American apologists for the horrors going on in Syria, and it’s thick among the conspiracy theorists pushing all of his as some kind of deep state trick. They want you to turn against the media, turn against the “globalists” of the deep state (ie, the Jews,) and they want you to turn toward autocrats like Trump and Erdogan as saviors of humanity, rather than a very small club of money-grabbing dictators.
Ultimately, this is the point of QAnon – propping up Trump and making money for a few content creators. And yes, it’s always wise to vet and research anything you see going around social media. But simply writing it off as fake because you disagree with it is not “research.” It’s cold-hearted insanity.
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