QAnon is a new spin on a very old lie

QAnon is a new spin on a very old lie February 13, 2021

• Ben Sales, “QAnon an old form of anti-Semitism in a new package, say experts

But are those anti-Semitic beliefs baked into QAnon? Or do some of the posters happen to be anti-Semites while believing in QAnon?

The answer, according to those who study extremism and have been watching the meteoric ascent of QAnon, is the former: QAnon is inherently anti-Semitic — and only growing more so. Researchers are still gathering data, but are seeing the trend pop up globally. The New York Times reported that there are 200,000 QAnon social media accounts on Germany’s far-right, and that the conspiracy was part of what inspired a faction of German extremists to storm its parliament in August.

“In terms of qualitative intelligence, there’s no doubt that it’s becoming more anti-Semitic,” said Joel Finkelstein, the director of the Network Contagion Research Institute, which studies hate and incitement on social media, and is gathering data on anti-Semitism in QAnon. “There’s just no doubt about that.”

• Brian Friedberg, “The Dark Virality of a Hollywood Blood-Harvesting Conspiracy

Toxic social attitudes spread virally alongside hoaxes and disinformation. Adrenochrome harvesting isn’t outwardly blamed on Jews, but on “satanic” and “globalist” elites — dog whistle terms for the far right. The modern adrenochrome obsession is a permutation of blood libel, an anti-Semitic myth that pervaded Europe throughout the middle ages, and a mutated strain of medical misinformation.

• Gregory Stanton, “QAnon is a Nazi Cult, Rebranded

A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power.

Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.

I have studied and worked to prevent genocide for forty years. Genocide Watch and the Alliance Against Genocide, the first international anti-genocide coalition, see such hate-filled conspiracy theories as early warning signs of deadly genocidal violence.

The plot, described above, was the conspiracy “revealed” in the most influential anti-Jewish pamphlet of all time. It was called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was written by Russian anti-Jewish propagandists around 1902. It collected myths about a Jewish plot to take over the world that had existed for hundreds of years. Central to its mythology was the Blood Libel, which claimed that Jews kidnapped and slaughtered Christian children and drained their blood to mix in the dough for matzos consumed on Jewish holidays.

• Jadyn Gelfand, “QAnon: New Name, Same Antisemitism

QAnon is in effect The Protocols but rebranded for your crazy uncle.

QAnon is the next in a long, long line of antisemitic conspiracy theories. It’s the same tired tropes with new shinier wrapping paper. Just like all those other conspiracies, QAnon must be fought, and unfortunately, just like antisemitism, QAnon doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

• Talia Lavin, “QAnon, Blood Libel, and the Satanic Panic

The “nocturnal ritual fantasy” — a term coined by the historian Norman Cohn in his landmark study of European witch trials, Europe’s Inner Demons — is a recurring trope in Western history. And it is often a politically useful one. Deployed by the Romans against early Christians, by Christians against Jews, by Christians against witches, by Catholics against “heretics,” it is a malleable set of accusations that posit that a social out-group is engaged in perverse, ritualistic behaviors that target innocents—and that the out-group and all its enablers must be crushed.

… Pedophiles are everywhere, for QAnon adherents: in the highest echelons of government and business, in Hollywood, ensconced in foster care homes and gas station parking lots. The number of children kidnapped and abused by the cabal, in the statistics that cram the rococo graphics passed around on social media, typically measure in the hundreds of thousands per annum, orders of magnitude higher than law enforcement statistics bear out.

And the child abduction isn’t just for sexual purposes. In an echo of the blood libel, one frequently cited theory among the QAnon community holds that global elites feel the need to procure so many children in order to harvest their blood. The children are sources of adrenochrome — a chemical sometimes used to prevent blood clotting, and readily available for purchase online. QAnon adherents posit that adrenochrome has potent hallucinatory effects (it doesn’t) or is used by elites to ensure their immortality. Moreover, adrenochrome is harvested from “tortured children,” in the words of one QAnon sage, in blood-drinking rituals dedicated to Satan.

… All of this has precedent in the nocturnal ritual fantasy. “The basic idea is that a persistent delusion exists in European cultures that shadowy, conspiratorial groups gather together in secret to plot the overthrow of society,” Dr. Michael Barbezat, a Medieval historian and research fellow at Australian Catholic University, told me. “As part of their plotting, the conspirators supposedly ritually abuse, murder, and consume innocent children.”

• AJC, “Position Paper: QAnon

Antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish elites, globalists, and bankers are part and parcel of the QAnon belief system and George Soros and the Rothschilds are consistent targets. The nefarious antisemitic forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion continues to be invoked by QAnon supporters, and even elevated by political leaders. In addition, the use of children in the conspiracy — the need to rescue children from the hands of the powerful globalists — harkens back to medieval blood libel accusations against Jews.

• Rabbi Michael Harvey, “QAnon is the new Protocols of the Elders of Zion

It goes without saying that Qanon followers have dived deep into an old trope that the world is controlled by a small group of people, in dark smokey rooms.  They control the banks, they make and end war at will, they put Manchurian candidates on the political stage, etc.  This rings eerily similar to the ideas of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, from the early 20th century.

A little background on the Protocols, is the written but widely believed “Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world.” It arose in Russia in 1903, and was then published around the world, including in America.  The Protocols blames all the ills of the world on decisions by Jews, who, by political action, war, and subterfuge, create wealth and power for the Jewish people.  It is, of course, entirely a work of fiction and though debunked, it is still widely distributed and believed today across the world.

• Rachel E. Greenspan, “QAnon builds on centuries of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that put Jewish people at risk

Conspiracy theories like QAnon that allege the existence of a secret society, and weaponize false accusations of child-trafficking and murder against one’s enemies, are built on centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes.

Several of these tropes started to develop in the Middle Ages. According to Michael Brenner, the director of American University’s Center for Israel Studies and a Jewish history professor, variations of those tropes “continue to exist until this very day.”

Those 12th-century anti-Semitic tropes alleged that Jews were responsible for kidnapping Christian children and drinking their blood for religious rituals. Those claims, called blood-libel conspiracy theories, persisted throughout the 1800s and into the 20th century, according to the ADL.

The blood libel conspiracy theory is still alive with QAnon, as believers have claimed that the fictional deep-state cabal consumes the blood of children through adrenochrome, a fictional version of a chemical compound that’s “harvested from the fear of children.”

• Tony Norman, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion 2.0: The rise of QAnon

European Jews faced pogroms and expulsion from many countries based on the rumor that they were kidnapping and murdering thousands of Christian children annually and ritually draining their blood to make Passover matzos.

Never mind that human sacrifice is explicitly and repeatedly denounced in Jewish scriptures and tradition as an abomination against God and humanity. Meanwhile the pages of history books are filled with examples of blood libel being used as an accelerant in persecuting Jews.

Irrationality on this level would be comical if it wasn’t also instrumental in the death of millions over the last half millennium. Blood libel mixed with conspiracy theories about the secret machinations of a shadowy cabal to take over the world resulted in the obscenity of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany’s 12-year existence.

This brings us to QAnon, an American phenomenon so irrational as to make “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” look relatively coherent by comparison.

• Emily Burack, “QAnon’s Antisemitism, Explained

Since QAnon is so expansive — constantly evolving, more conspiracies being added — there’s just so much antisemitism, it’s hard to cover it all.

As we said above, QAnon’s conspiracy theory is basically a “rebranded Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The Protocols is 24 chapters of antisemitic lies about Jews that touches on all the antisemitic tropes we’re about to go over. Plus, central to the Protocols is the blood libel.

Let’s break down a few more tropes that are embedded in QAnon ideology (all of which are also found in Protocols) …

• Pamela Paresky and John Farmer, “The newest vehicle for the oldest hatred

The question is whether consumers of social media will be able to recognize anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and reject them. Or, like so many other consumers of new media technologies throughout history, will they be seduced into identifying the source of their grievances as an infernal — and singularly eternal — “other”?

• Jonathan Sarna, “The symbols of antisemitism in the Capitol riot

Calls to exterminate Jews are common in far-right and white nationalist circles. For example, the conspiracy theorists of QAnon, who hold “that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Mr. Trump,” traffic in it regularly.

The anonymous “Q” – the group’s purported head who communicates in riddles and leaves clues on message boards – once approvingly retweeted the antisemitic image of a knife-wielding Jew wearing a Star of David necklace who stands knee-deep in the blood of Russians, Poles, Hungarians and Ukrainians and asks with feigned innocence, “Why do they persecute me so?”

Images of long-nosed Jews dripping with the blood of non-Jews whom they are falsely accused of murdering have a long and tragic history. Repeatedly, they have served as triggers for antisemitic violence.

More commonly, including in recent days, QAnon has targeted Jewish billionaire philanthropist and investor George Soros, whom it portrays as the primary figure shaping and controlling world events. A century ago, the Rothschilds, a family of Jewish bankers, was depicted in much the same way.QAnon members also mark Jews with triple parentheses, a covert means of outing those whom they consider usurpers and outsiders, not true members of the white race.

• Julia Carrie Wong, “QAnon’s ‘Great Awakening’ failed to materialize. What’s next could be worse

“My primary concern about this moment is the Q to JQ move,” said Brian Friedberg, a senior researcher at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, referring to “the Jewish question”, a phrase that white nationalists and neo-Nazis use to discuss their antisemitic belief that Jews control the world. …

Sweeping bans on QAnon influencers and communities since 6 January and the deplatforming of Parler have forced QAnon communities to attempt to reconstitute on alternative social media platforms, including Telegram and Gab, sites that have long been the haven of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the dregs of the alt-right.

The QAnon narrative has always been fundamentally antisemitic (the “globalist cabal” is a remix of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, while another major QAnon belief is a modern remaking of the blood libel), but many of the top QAnon influencers shied away from overt antisemitism, leaving it to posters on 8kun while promoting a slightly more sanitized version of QAnon on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

“Now that QAnon has coalesced on alt-tech, where Nazis have had a few years of head start, organized antisemitism is even fewer clicks away,” warned Friedberg.

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