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Internet-spawned QAnon conspiracy explained by Granite State believers

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 05. 2018 1:49PM
A supporter holds a QAnon sign as President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Thursday. (LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS)

Alec Currier is a proud Granite Stater who's lived in New England his whole life, trying his hand at everything from lobster fishing to carpentry.

He plays in a band - mostly rock 'n' roll, but he's not above throwing in a Britney Spears cover if he thinks it will make the crowd laugh - and enjoys the minor celebrity status it gives him around Newport.

He believes if you devote the same amount of time he has researching the clues left by "Q", you will also realize that there is an all-encompassing conspiracy of the nation's most powerful to protect their pedophilia rings and corruption. Currier is a believer of the internet-spawned conspiracy theory called QAnon.

"It truly is, to me, an awakening," Currier said. "You have these intuitions where you wonder, 'Is it really like this?' And then you find out that it is and you're like 'Wow.'"

"There's a lot of idiots who will pop up on (QAnon message boards) but there are real, rational people. We're not a bunch of nuts" like the mainstream media is portraying QAnon believers to be, he said. "I can understand why a lot of people react that way, but I can also understand that facts don't care about feelings."

The QAnon phenomenon burst into the public consciousness last week after believers, decked out in Q gear, were filmed attending rallies for President Donald Trump.

To believers, Q is a pseudonym for a well-placed U.S. government agent who is posting online distress messages and bits of intel, known as "bread crumbs," in an effort to save the country - and Trump - from hostile forces within the government. Q's missives started appearing last October on 4chan, the mostly anonymous website where fringe ideas incubate and blossom.

In messages written in a telegraphic, cryptic style, Q called on Americans to rally behind Trump as he planned a counteraction against forces that would investigate him and remove him from office. Some QAnon followers believe Trump himself inspired their movement with a comment he made last October at a photo session with military leaders. The president pointed to the officers' uniforms and said, "You know what this represents? Maybe it's the calm before the storm."

Over and over again, QAnon believers see affirmation in seemingly unconnected news stories or Trump's actions.

The presidential motorcade doesn't honk for just anybody, said Jim Frederick, a QAnon believer from Sunapee, but earlier this month the QAnon crowd latched onto a video that purportedly shows the motorcade honking when passing a crowd of Trump supporters, two of whom are seen holding a sign that reads "Honk for Q MAGA (Make America Great Again)." Watching the video, the honk appears to come from a van on the highway about 10 seconds after the motorcade has driven by.

The president has also used the number 17 in several tweets and statements. Many QAnon believers say it is a code referencing the 17th letter of the alphabet: Q.

But the confirmations are also more serious. Believers say Q has predicted a long string of pedophilia arrests and more than 35,000 indictments are soon to come.

"A lot of people are skeptical because if somebody pops up on the internet and starts claiming all these things, a lot of people aren't going to believe it," Frederick said. "But (the skepticism) has also been political ... the left is seriously trying to discredit any and all of this information that comes out about them. ... It is kind of a conspiracy, but it's a real conspiracy - a major cover-up."

A machinist who has lived in the Granite State since 1985, Frederick heard about QAnon from a friend he met online through his other political activity. He is an active member of the Three Percent United Patriots, a right-wing militia group, and participated in last summer's Boston Free Speech Rally, which was panned by critics as a racist gathering in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville, Va., rally.

"It's people who are already Trump supporters, people who already have a conspiratorial world view, and people who are likely evangelical" who are drawn to QAnon, said Joe Usincski, a former New Hampshire resident who wrote "American Conspiracy Theories" and now teaches at the University of Miami. "Based on the world views we have, it sort of filters out what we will and won't believe in ... We have to keep in mind that this is only affecting Trump supporters, and within that, only a small percentage of them."

Some big names have bought into the fantasy. Roseanne Barr, the disgraced star of the canceled ABC revival that bore her name, has posted messages on Twitter that appear to endorse the QAnon worldview, fixating on child sex abuse. She has sought to make contact with Q on social media and has retweeted messages summarizing the QAnon philosophy. And Curt Schilling, the former major league pitcher who now hosts a show on Breitbart Radio, tweeted about QAnon and said on his program that "I know there's something there."

But QAnon's newfound attention could be pivotal for the group. Both Usincski and Frederick said it is likely to draw increased scrutiny and perhaps an influx of internet denizens eager to disprove the group's beliefs.

"I don't see it as a good thing at all," Frederick said. "Because the whole mainstream media thing - the research we've all been doing, they're going to try and discredit it and blow it off and say it's a conspiracy."

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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