The American Roots of QAnon, Part Two

The following is the second half of the speech I gave at Purdue University in early April on the uniquely American properties of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Because it wasn’t recorded, I decided to post it online, broken up into two parts because it’s really long. Part one can be found here. My books The Storm is Upon Us and the forthcoming Jewish Space Lasers are also available. Enjoy!

Another one of Q’s foundational theories had been floating around since the early 90’s – and it wasn’t the Clinton Body Count. It was the three-decade old prophesy scam built around a great financial awakening, known as NESARA.

First emerging out of the wreckage of another scam called Omega Trust, NESARA was like a lot other conspiracy theories in that it had its roots in something real, only to become completely engulfed in fraud and false hope. In this case, it was an economic proposal called the “National Economic Security and Recovery Act,” proposed by an amateur economist as a massive overhaul to the US financial system that would do away with the Federal Reserve, loan interest, consumer debt, and the current income tax. Its originator printed a thousand copies of his proposal and sent them to Congress, where he assumed it would be put to a vote at once. It was not, and it eventually found its way online.

That’s where it caught the eye of a victim of the Omega Trust scam, Yelm, Washington resident Shaini Goodwin. She saw it as a way to merge some of the conspiracy she’d fallen for with the more New Age-y aspects of NESARA, and went to work building a cult around herself.

Omega had been the brainchild of a downstate Illinois grifter name Clyde Hood, who made millions of dollars by promoting himself as one of the only people in the world with knowledge of a secret financial instrument called “Prime European Bank Notes.” According to Hood, with just a small investment, these “Notes” would roll over into what he deemed “Omega Units” that would make their holders vast riches once they were “released” by the financial powers that be. Hood kept his marks on the hook with claims of cosmic forces at work trying to stop him, and the need for prayer and bigger “Omega” purchases to help move the windfall along.

Needless to say, this was a giant scam, and once arrested, Hood would spend the rest of his life in prison. Goodwin, who lost at least some money on Omega Units, realized that the prophetic and secret knowledge aspects of Omega could easily be applied to NESARA, and began stumping for it full-time, to the point where when the FBI started offering restitution payments to Omega victims, Goodwin urged them not to accept the money – lest they jeopardize the even bigger payment they’d get down the road with NESARA.

Rebranding herself under the name “Dove of Oneness” and loading down her messages with inscrutable claims and proclamations, Goodwin claimed that NESARA was not a pie-in-the-sky economic fantasy, but an actual law that had been signed in secret by Bill Clinton, one that would change the very basics of how global commerce and governing worked. Of course, there was no evidence this version of NESARA was real. But Dove had a reason for that: its contents were so guarded that if anyone admitted to its existence, they would immediately be executed. Naturally, Goodwin’s following didn’t ask how the vice president was kept out of the loop from this massive financial upheaval, but a random woman in a trailer in Yelm knew about it.

And there was a lot to know about. According to Goodwin’s emails and Yahoo group messages, once it went into effect, the entire world economy would be remade. This would deliver trillions of dollars in “prosperity packets” to a chosen few believers – who could help their chances by sending Goodwin money, which they did, tens of thousands of dollars that the guru used to fund her lifestyle and pay for mobile billboards to drive around DC proclaiming “NESARA NOW!”

Like QAnon, the great event is always “just about” to happen, only to be stopped at the last moment by dark forces or the evil cabal. NESARA kept going and going, with Goodwin needing to spin more plates in order to keep acolytes from souring on the whole thing. Dove’s emails and posts became more rambling, veering into niche conspiracies like vast alliances of aliens and god-like beings fighting an astral war to prevent NESARA. Even Goodwin’s death in 2010, as the IRS was closing in on her, didn’t stop the conspiracy – many believers felt she’d been assassinated by the dark forces – but it did cool it off and lose many of its followers.

By then, hope-addicted prophecy believers had another jargon-riddled scam to sink their retirement savings into: the Iraqi dinar. NESARA was clustered around one guru, the Dove of Oneness. But the dinar scam had dozens of them, all either selling or touting the idea that Iraq’s nearly worthless currency, the dinar, would magically “revalue” to its exchange rate before the Gulf War, which was nearly three dollars to one dinar – as opposed to the 900 something dinars you could presently get for one dollar, due to western sanctions and the crumbling state of the Iraqi economy.

American troops in Iraq shortly after the 2003 invasion started bringing dinars home, and within a few years, it was a massive scam with multiple different groups working together. There were “brokers” with names like Currency Liquidator, Sterling Currency Group, and Treasury Vault which sold dinars as collectables, marked up by about 20%. And while dinar brokers advertised that they would buy back dinars as well as sell them, selling them back was virtually impossible – whereas buying them was trivially easy.

And on the other end, dinar gurus with names like “TNT Tony” and “Wolfyman” used websites and message boards to crank out endless rumors, conspiracy theories, promises, and lies to keep dinar buyers busy. The more nonsense they threw out, the more dinarians dissected them for the scraps of information that would lead them to finally cashing in their investments. To skirt the law, brokers didn’t give advice on buying, and gurus didn’t sell, only gave advice. It was a perfect symbiosis, with both sides working together to keep Americans desperately in need of money on the hook, buying more currency, and sinking ever deeper into debt.

Like Q, the dinar scam relied on complex and heavily-thought out jags of nonsense to perpetuate the fiction that there were great events happening just behind the scenes. There were endless streams of theories, jargon, excuses, and attacks on nonbelievers. There were promises of secret 1-800 numbers to call to find out which banks would be cashing out dinars, entire books written about how to hide your dinar riches from the taxman, earnest debates over whether the dinar would “revalue” to the astronomical value of $32 per dinar or “only” $3, and endless promises that the revalue was going to happen “soon” or “next week” or that it had already happened and was just waiting to be revealed to the Iraqi people.

Ultimately, the “dinar revalue” never happened, because currencies don’t suddenly “revalue” to become worth hundreds of times more, which would create instant hyperinflation and destroy the world’s economy.

But promising a dinar revalue was a good way to get rich – and a good way to get indicted. The dollar amounts from various dinar prosecutions are sobering – including a staggering $600 million defrauded by the dinar broker firm Sterling Currency Group.

Despite the constant failures of their predictions, and in some cases, the indictment of their biggest promoters, both NESARA and the dinar scam actually both saw revivals during the Trump years due to comments the former president made about “levelling the playing field” of currencies, or the COVID-19 stimulus being the first release of NESARA’S “prosperity packets.” NESARA has even been adopted by the worldwide crank community, renamed “GESARA” because nothing actually matters when everything is made up.

Again, these types of utopian economic schemes are far outside the bounds of reality, and could never work in any kind of manageable fashion. But can you blame people for getting addicted to the hope that one day they’ll actually have some disposable income? Isn’t the success of something like the dinar rooted in America’s staggering wealth divide and the crushing cost of poverty? Why shouldn’t the hardworking people of the world get a crack at those riches? And why can’t we do something about the fatcats keeping it all for themselves?

The idea of ordinary people throwing off the shackles of financial control thanks to forbidden knowledge is a deeply alluring one, and it dovetails perfectly with Q’s notion of a globalist “deep state” running things, and Q being the only way to fight back. It’s no different than paranoia in the 90’s over the New World Order, or in the 70’s of the Council on Foreign Relations, or of the Illuminati, the Insiders, the Hidden Hand, or any of the countless other names given to the string-pullers at the very top. They have different names and details, but crucially, the funders are the same – the “international bankers” of European Jewry.

QAnon relentlessly rehashes these old stereotypes, taking advantage of Jewish money tropes that have been around for the last two thousand years and applying them to the economic divide of today. In particular, Q exploits a century of conspiracy theories about the Federal Reserve being a fraudulent scheme illegally passed by Jew-controlled politicians and designed only to solidify Jewish debt slavery over hardworking Americans.

Federal Reserve conspiracy theories make up the backbone of postwar American paranoia. The institution and its supposed secret machinations and lack of oversight are endlessly written about in the best-selling books of American conspiracy gurus like Ezra Pound protégé Eustace Mullins’ Secrets of the Federal Reserve, G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island, and John Birch Society speechwriter Gary Allen’s 1971 book None Dare Call it Conspiracy – which sold an astonishing five million copies in the runup to the 1972 election and was one of the foremost inspirations in the young life of Alex Jones. Much of this work is openly racist, antisemitic, and based in pseudoscience and fearmongering. And like QAnon later, it claims not to hate “all” Jews, just the rich ones in power.

And while Q doesn’t specifically mention the Fed very often, Q drops and the books and videos made by QAnon promoters are full of references to the globalist controllers using the federal government’s ability to print and regulate money to keep us down, while sending untold billions to bad actors like George Soros and Ukraine. As one popular Q video puts it simply “do you ever wonder why you can’t get ahead?” Everyone wonders that at some point – and conspiracy theories like QAnon do an excellent job of trying to answer that question with conspiracies.

Soros in particular is a huge target of Q’s vitriol, supposedly funding all manner of coups, election interference, pandemics, and domestic terrorism. Again, Q here merely parrots decades of attacks by everyone from libertarian godhead crank Lyndon LaRouche to popular figures like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly all attacking Soros as the “puppet master” and chief funder of the Democratic Party.

And like so many others, Q also attacks the 20th century iteration of Soros, the Rothschild banking family – listing the hundreds of “Rothschild controlled central banks,” claiming the family are part of a sinister European cabal, accusing them of holding satanic human hunting rituals in their Austrian Black Forest estates – the Black Forest is actually in Germany – and of even having the Titanic sunk as a way to ensure the creation of the Federal Reserve.

Like so many other parts of Q, little of this is new. Some of these theories have been floating around for decades, or even centuries in the case of the Rothschilds. Others appear to have been either stolen from other sources, such as anonymous blogs or Twitter threads. Only a few seem to be made up on the spot. But all of them trod a deeply familiar path that QAnon believers would know well – Jewish bankers run the world, and if we’re lucky, they let us live in it, beholden to their greed and their sick rituals.

And Americans are obsessed with sick rituals. We love blaming demonic incantations, Illuminati schemes, and Satanic messages for driving innocent people into the clutches of evil. We especially obsess over the protection of children from these forces. QAnon in general is devoted to rooting out satanic influence in general and satanic danger toward children in particular.

It was “save the children” marches in the summer of 2020 that took so many believers out of their lockdowns and into the streets to protest vaguely terrible things happening to kids who didn’t actually exist. Q makes numerous references to Satanic evil, Satanic rituals imperiling children, American politicians worshipping Satan, Satan “leaving the White House” when Trump took office, and nearly a dozen posts referencing Ephesians 6:10’s exhortation to “put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

None of this is off track from evangelical America’s obsessions with rooting the devil out of politics, culture, and society. And while America has had its share of moral panics and sudden societal fixations on the devil, from the Salem Witch Trials to the evangelical anti-Illuminati crusades of the 1970’s. But the one that seems to align the most with QAnon was the classic Satanic Panic of the 1980’s and early 90’s.

Both Q and the Satanic Panic obsessed over unevidenced dangers to children – in day cares necessitated by women entering the workforce, in child custody battles, in hidden messages in corporate logos and song lyrics, and in Hollywood pedophile rings.

The allegations in both would become so outlandish that they could hardly be believed, except to the millions of people who believed them. There were accusations of Satanic rituals and occult abuses, witches and wizards, warlocks and demons, secret tunnels and bunkers, and children being tortured and murdered with their blood drained for unholy purposes.

And there were consequences. Allegations of Satanic ritual abuse and sexual exploitation during the Panic sent hundreds of innocent people to prison on substantiated charges, where they sat awaiting the outcomes of trials that dragged on for years. Some of them are still in prison. In QAnon, murder and mayhem became commonplace long before January 6th, including kidnappings, vandalism, assault, and a Q-pilled mother who shot her Q-believing lawyer after her custody case went bad – a case driven by allegations that child protective services was selling children into sexual slavery.

And of course, there was grift in both – a slew of books, TV specials, and phony consulting and training services on “how to spot Satanic ritual abuse” came directly attached to the Panic, while the QAnon grift industry is so big that it’s enabled dozens of gurus and influencers to turn conspiracy theories into their full time jobs.

Not only is QAnon a direct descendent of the Satanic Panic, it’s embraced by much the same people: mainly concerned evangelicals with fear in their hearts and too much time on their hands, looking for villains to expose so they can feel a sense of excitement and purpose in their own lives. But QAnon is bigger in its scope and scale than the Panic of the 80’s ever could have been. Q isn’t just about a few schools engaging in horrific ritual abuse, it’s about the abusers taking power at every level of government and business. Q isn’t just saving a few children, it’s saving all children – all of humanity, really. And while the terrified parents at the center of the Satanic Panic could write letters and spur outrage in their own community, Q influencers can do it around the world with just a few tweets or a live stream.

Everything about QAnon is bigger and faster than everything that came before it. Q went from not existing in September 2017 to sending hordes of devotees to a Trump rally in August 2018 to the halls of Congress two years later. And paradoxically, it’s grown by becoming less devoted to its own core elements – the “secret intelligence drops” on 8chan. Many of the people who are now devoted to the conspiracy theories spread by Q have never read a Q drop and know nothing about it, they’re just mad about stuff that Fox News and Steve Bannon tell them to be mad about.

Indeed, even many Q influencers have turned their back on the former president, largely because of his support for vaccines, but also because it’s hard to run a scam based around someone so obviously ill-equipped to carry out the promises of that scam.

But still, belief in Q and its prophecies persists. And at some point, it’s likely that another scam with the hallmarks of QAnon – the secret knowledge, the in-group vs. out-group dynamic, the reliance on prophecy and hope for the banishment of evil – will rise up and incorporate some of Q’s mythology while adding some of its own. And that mythology will probably be stolen from past works of paranoia and antisemitism, and find a huge fanbase desperate for answers, revenge, and to get a piece of the pie.  

And its marks could be anyone. We’re all vulnerable to the right piece of disinformation or scapegoating or conspiracy mongering if it hits us at the right time and in the right way. Maybe you stumble on a conspiracy theory about Jews running the Federal Reserve after you got hit with an unexpected medical bill, or about QAnon saving children from trafficking by Wayfair just after you’ve lost custody of yours in a nasty divorce, or something about Bill Gates creating COVID the day your business fails during lockdown. Sometimes, that’s all it can take. That and a few sleepless nights of “research” on the internet, where you meet other like-minded souls going through the same “awakening.”

None of those are excuses for violence, of course. Nothing justifies storming the Capitol or shooting your lawyer or harassing people outside a vaccine clinic. But they at least offer reasons why someone might do something like that – and the signs to look for in people close to us who might be vulnerable to the same thing. We can see those signs, and maybe intervene if it’s early enough and we do it with compassion and a kind ear.

Ultimately, that’s what makes QAnon such a perfectly American conspiracy theory: it exploits the most virulent aspects of American life of the last decade and merges them with the most successful conspiracy theories of ages past. Whether you’re a disappointed Trump voter, a terrified parent scared of what “they” are doing to high school sports, or just an old school antisemite; QAnon has something to offer you. Someone did this to you, someone is to blame, someone is getting something you should be getting or taking something away from you. And Q gives you the weapons to take your place on the front line in the final battle to bring them to justice.

For most people, it’s crazy. But for a few people, it’s what they’ve always been waiting for.

Thank you.