• Isn’t it ironic that so many people connected to QAnon turn out to be themselves, involved with sexual abuse and violence against children?
No, as Lindsey Beyerstein writes here — “The link between Trumpland, QAnon, evangelical culture and child sex predators” — it’s the opposite of ironic. It’s utterly predictable and expected:
QAnon’s preoccupation with child porn is a result of overlapping themes in chan culture, conspiracy culture, Evangelical culture, and parenting/wellness culture. The theory gelled in poorly moderated spaces where actual child porn and jokes about it were a fact of life.
QAnon was born in the fetid swamps of 4chan imageboard, where the speech was free and child porn was available to those who knew where to look. Child porn was officially against the rules, but the chans were founded as forums for unbridled free speech, so their moderation protocols are purposefully lax. Pedophilia jokes and tropes fit 4chan’s shock-jock ethos. The unofficial mascot of 4chan is a character known as Pedobear.
Beyerstein also notes that QAnon was only able to spread among white evangelical “normies” once it had migrated from the chans to more accessible platforms like Facebook because “Chans are an insular world that is only navigable by people with a fair amount of technical sophistication and a high tolerance for obscenity and abuse.”
That’s true. The white evangelicals sharing QAnon memes on Facebook rarely venture beyond the official itinerary of Mark Zuckerberg’s tourbus bubble and don’t have any idea how to navigate the rest of the internet. So I think we need to teach them how to do that. Because I think the best hope for curing Q-addled white evangelical church-goers lies in taking them on a tour of places like 4chan and 8kun to let them see for themselves where all of this comes from.
This is a switch for me, because I’ve spent years saying that no one should ever visit those cesspools. But I think John McArthur needs to. And so does Ken Peters, and Sean Feucht, and Eric Metaxas, and every other conspiracy-deceived white evangelical.
• “How to help, and what to do if you need it, during Texas’ historic freeze.” This Austin American-Statesman how-to piece has been making the rounds as a good overview of ways for Texans and others to help those in need during that state’s deep freeze and energy crisis.
“Everything you can imagine is real,” the quote says. In the context of Ramirez’s terrific photo, that’s inspiring and aspirational — reminding us that we can imagine a better world than the status quo — that we can make real a world in which our neighbors are not forced to huddle in tents during a life-threatening winter.
But that quote hits differently for those of us who grew up reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
Everyone knew it would be better not to listen, not to strain his ears for any sound from the darkness. But no one could help listening. And soon everyone was hearing things. Each one heard something different.
“Do you hear a noise like … like a huge pair of scissors opening and shutting … over there?” Eustace asked Rynelf.
“Hush!” said Rynelf. “I can hear them crawling up the sides of the ship.”
“It’s just going to settle on the mast,” said Caspian.
“Ugh!” said a sailor. “There are the gongs beginning. I knew they would.”
I suppose what we can imagine often can be made real. But that more often seems true of our fears than of our ideals.
• Frothing antisemite Rick Wiles has been working so hard to convince himself that “cultural Marxism” is a dire threat that he now advocates massive wealth distribution as a means to fight it: “Rick Wiles Floats 2024 Presidential Campaign, Promises to Seize the Wealth of Billionaires and Give it to the Poor.”
This is fascinating because Wiles — who has, for years, been a hateful, raving loon promoting an incoherent jumble of contradictory conspiracy theories — stumbles and bumbles his way to a point where he’s just inches from a meaningful epiphany. And he arrives so tantalizingly close to this insight in the most Rick Wiles way, saying:
“When you use your money and power to change my life, to take away my rights, to try to force things on me that I object to, that I find morally repulsive, when you try to restrict my free speech, when you try to promote population control, you want to pump vaccines into my body, when you want to change society, you know what? You’re my enemy,” Wiles declared. “The only way you’re able to do it is because you’re a billionaire. So then we need to take away your billions.”
“… Let’s break up the tech companies. Let’s take the billions. I want to take Bill Gates’ billions and give it to the poor. I want to give it to the poor. I want to strip them, completely strip them, and give it to the poor. I want Jack Dorsey’s money. I want [Mark] Zuckerberg’s money. I want to give it to the poor.”
You can almost hear the gears in Wiles’ head grinding as he struggles to think this through. He’s beginning to dimly realize that vast concentrations of wealth result in vast concentrations of political power, and that such inequality threatens and restricts the freedoms of everyone else.
And that’s not wrong. But Wiles is not-wrong for the wrong reasons — for dangerous, ugly, hateful, and stupid reasons. He wants to “break up the tech companies” and check the economic power of billionaires because he thinks this would counter the power of the Antichrist’s one-world-government and the secret cabal of globalists fueling the subversive Communist fifth-column. And all of that is still very, very wrong.
• Here is a candid personal testimony (one still in progress) from now-former right-wing talk radio guy Chuck Armstrong: “My life with Rush Limbaugh.” This piece only hints at the encounters with grace that led Armstrong to question and rethink the life he’d been born and bred into. Some of those hints are in the writers he quotes here, and in friendships he found and formed.
But I also suspect that music played a role in this story, and so here’s Drive-By Truckers doing “Armageddon’s Back in Town“: