Geopolitics

QAnon Now, The Conspiracy Movement Adapts To Post-Trump Era

A nationwise tour of how the alternative reality continues to thrive in local chapters.

At a Proud Boys rally in Raleigh on March 20
Sophie Bjork-James

By this point, almost everyone has heard of QAnon, the conspiracy spawned by an anonymous online poster of enigmatic prophecies. Starting with an initial promise in 2017 that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be imminently arrested, a broad group of interpreters divined a conspiracy that saw President Donald Trump's Democratic opponents as a global cabal of Satanic pedophiles.

Perhaps the greatest success of the conspiracy is its ability to create a shared alternate reality, a reality that can dismiss everything from a decisive election to a deadly pandemic. The QAnon universe lives on – now largely through involvement in local, not national, Republican politics.

Moving on from contesting the election, the movement's new focus is vaccines. The influence of QAnon on pandemic denialism is significant, though the spread of Q in local politics is a source of conflict in many states.

Tug of war

The conspiracy may have begun on an obscure web forum, but it is now influencing the Republican Party at all levels.

A recent Daily Kos/Civiqs poll found that 55% of Republicans believe some element of the conspiracy is true.

And in many parts of the country, QAnon supporters are winning elections. From local school boards to city councils, QAnon now has dozens of advocates at nearly every level of local government. While many of these positions hold sway far outside Washington, D.C., the breadth of this movement shows its influence is not likely to wane any time soon.

Opposing mask mandates, vaccines and lockdowns have been effective campaigns for QAnon.

Not all Republicans are happy with this shift. In South Carolina, Indiana, Michigan and other states, Republican politics are fraught with tensions between QAnon supporters and more traditional conservatives.

State GOP politicians have promoted QAnon in Arizona through social media posts, although one later apologized for doing so, saying, "Now I think half of them are rather nuts." In January 2021, the Twitter account of the Republican Party of Hawaii tweeted a defense of QAnon believers. The account also defended a Holocaust denier. The official who posted the tweets was later forced to resign.

A similar confrontation has played out in Huntington Beach, California, where the appointed mayor pro tem – or vice mayor – inspired a vote of no confidence for supporting QAnon along with conspiracies against mask-wearing and vaccines.

Part of the conversation

Many QAnon proponents post-election have worked to reframe the COVID-19 vaccines not as the solution to a global pandemic but as an attempt by a cabal to control the minds of a hapless world.

Opposing mask mandates, vaccines and lockdowns have been effective campaigns for QAnon as it mobilizes anti-government sentiment common among the conservative base of the Republican Party. These efforts appear to be coalescing around bans on making vaccines mandatory.

Missouri's Republican-led Senate recently voted to ban so-called vaccine passports, and Texas, Florida, Idaho and Utah have all passed similar legislation. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is asking for similar legislation. It is unclear to what extent these bans were influenced by QAnon. But they do echo the opposition to masks and vaccines that have shaped the conspiracy.

QAnon has deep historical roots in a variety of other conspiracies, including anti-Semitic conspiracy.

In California, a recall campaign against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has targeted his COVID-19 response. The campaign was initially organized by people affiliated with both right-wing militias and QAnon supporters.

Not going away

Yotam Ophir, a communications scholar at the University at Buffalo, has studied QAnon. He told me that he doesn't "see a reason to believe the conspiracy will go away anytime soon."

Part of this is that QAnon has deep historical roots in a variety of other conspiracies, including a centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracy of a blood libel. The flexibility of the conspiracy has also proved resilient within a shifting political landscape.

Perhaps the biggest threat posed by QAnon is articulated by Lindsay Schubiner, a program director at the Western States Center in Portland, Oregon, which works to support democracy and challenge white nationalism.

"Bigoted conspiracy theories like QAnon have an enormous influence on the context in which local government operates," Schubiner told me. "Democratic governance is hard to achieve if we don't live in a shared reality, and that's as true on the local level as it is on the national level."The Conversation



Sophie Bjork-James, Assistant Professor of the Practice in Anthropology, Vanderbilt University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!

La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ