• QAnon has been described as a conspiracy theory and as a cult. While it functions as both of those for many of those ensnared by its folly, I think the more important thing to remember and to emphasize is that QAnon is a hoax. It’s a “joke” perpetrated on and against “normies” by channer brats seeking nothing more than “lulz” and revenge against their parents. (In many cases, revenge against their white evangelical parents — which is the point of much of the explicitly evangelical white Christian nationalist imagery used to promote the hoax.)
It’s a nasty, toxic hoax that has gone further than any of its inventors ever dreamed it would, and it continues to spread because those giggling hoaxsters, giddy with their success, continue to enjoy seeing how much more they can get those gullible normies to swallow wholesale.
See, for example, this USAToday “fact check” story: “QAnon post mischaracterizes Quentin Tarantino film images as cannibalism scene.” The Tarantino movie in question was the 2007 horror/action/comedy flick Grindhouse, which included a sordid black-comedy satire “trailer” for a movie-within-a-movie called “Thanksgiving.” That scene — a cannibalistic Thanksgiving banquet featuring humans in place of turkey — was a hit with the audience Tarantino and Eli Roth were targeting with Grindhouse, the same audience that loved Roth’s movies like Hostel and similar, shockingly violent fare like, say, Natural Born Killers.
The audience for stuff like that loves it, in part, because it’s exactly the sort of thing their parents would disapprove of and find disgusting. So the perpetual adolescents of the chan sites have seen Grindhouse dozens of times while they know their parents have never seen it even once. How “funny” would it be to take what those of us in-the-know all immediately recognize as a scene from a movie and foist it off on our stupid parents as nightmarish confirmation of all of their stupid self-righteous fantasies? LOL! Wouldn’t that make them look dumb and, therefore, prove how smart “we” are?
That is the essence of QAnon, the juvenile hoax that has transformed an entire political party and threatens our democracy. It’s all about teh lulz. And don’t ever expect the hoaxers to let up because “It’s gone too far.” Seeing just how far they can push this thing is, for them, the whole point.
• Warren Throckmorton has been poking at a very odd story for quite a while: “Update on the John MacArthur Went to Memphis the Night of Martin Luther King, Jr’s Murder Story.”
MacArthur — the white fundamentalist preacher best known for opposing women’s ordination and embracing pandemic-denialist conspiracy theories — has, for years, told the story of how he drove to Memphis on the night of King’s assassination, accompanied by John M. Perkins and Charles Evers, brother of slain civil rights champion Medgar Evers.
Charles Evers denied the story. Perkins has repeatedly refused to comment on it. The best one might be able to say for MacArthur’s account, at this point, is that he’s stretched some truths while misremembering others.
But that’s not the most damning part of this. The worst part is why it is that MacArthur keeps going back to this odd story. He seems to regard it as his Proof I’m Not A Racist story. Or as his Trump Card Defense Against All Criticism On The Subject Of Race story.
And I suspect that’s why Perkins wants no part of any of this, because white fundies and evangelicals have been using that man in exactly this way for more than 50 years (especially for the last 25 years, since Tom Skinner died) and he’s got to be beyond tired of it by now.
• I didn’t sneak around the paywall to read that Feb. 23 New York Times story on a militia-linked Vermont shooting range, but saw enough discussion of it that I looked up the local reporting it borrowed from.
Here’s the VTDigger’s original piece, from last October, “Militia training site terrifies neighbors in West Pawlet.” And here’s Vermont Public Radio’s extensive follow-up confirming much of that story from January, “Despite Act 250 Complaints, ‘No One Is Actively Investigating’ Slate Ridge Shooting Range.”
The center of this story is a man named Daniel Banyai, a felon from New York who purchased 30 acres of land to build a paramilitary themed “training site,” got turned down for his permit application, and then built the thing anyway. He has since bullied and threatened any neighbors complaining about the noise, ignored the town’s enforcement of its laws, and openly rejected court verdicts against him. Basically, he’s exactly the kind of lawless small-town bully that the A-Team or Caine or some other knight-errant would be expected to take down back in the days of three-network TV. Substitute a lawless biker gang for a lawless white nationalist militia and this is the premise to dozens of movies from my childhood.
• Al Franken does a pretty good impression of his former colleague Ted Cruz (via John Cole):
• Use search-and-replace to substitute the word “theology” for the word “science” in this post and it remains true. Particularly this sentence: “Here’s the thing: unless the entirety of your [theological] question, research planning, and dissemination of your findings is designed to be explicitly anti-racist, there is a very high chance of it building on a racist past to create a racist present.”