Sunday, 9 May 2021

Followers of ‘doomsday cult’ QAnon believe Donald Trump will retake power today

Their messiah is no longer in power, but some followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory believe that Donald Trump will return to the throne today.

Followers of the wide-ranging movement think the former president is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles and will eventually be restored to high office.

But why on 4 March?

Well, that date was, until the 20th amendment was passed in 1933, the inauguration date for presidents.

The fringe belief that is still the rightful date comes from the unfounded claim among some QAnon followers that the US turned from a country to a corporation after the District of Columbia Organic Act in 1871.

Some claim that any president sworn in before that date is therefore illegitimate.

March the 4th began spreading among QAnon followers only days after Joe Biden was sworn in on 20 January.

Washington is now on high alert. The US Capitol Police requested that 4,900 National Guard troops remain in the nation’s capital until at least 12 March.

The force said in a statement that it had “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4th”.

A bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI said the group discussed plans in February to “take control of the US Capitol and remove Democratic lawmakers on or about March 4”.

The Trump International Hotel appears to be anticipating visitors and a big possible payday.

It’s more than doubled prices, to $1,000 for the night.

With Donald Trump recently reviving the “rigged” election lie at the Conservative Political Action Conference, there are still plenty of people who think victory was stolen from him.

QAnon followers have had a tumultuous couple of months. After the storming of the capitol on 6 January failed to return Donald Trump to the White House, many pinned their hopes on 20 January as their day of reckoning – believing an alleged “cabal” of paedophiles would be arrested and executed.

When that “storm” didn’t deliver, there was deep frustration. Some followers have lost access to mainstream platforms online and have splintered.

The conspiracy has always been a broad tent of ideas and some followers have tried to distance themselves from the events on 6 January and prominent supporters like “Q Shaman” Jacob Chansley.

The man filmed with a fur hat and bull horns has been arrested and pleaded not guilty.

Some QAnon believers are claiming that 4 March could in fact be a “false flag by the deep state”.

They claim the media is trying to lure people in and encourage them to engage in more violence. But others on messaging apps like Telegram remain convinced something will happen today.

One former follower, Melissa Rein Lively, tells me: “It’s really sad looking back now on just how he (Donald Trump) took advantage of people’s fears and sort of manipulated the situation.

“He obviously knew what was happening with these conspiracy theorists… . and when he lost, people’s lives were just shattered.”

Mark Rothschild, an expert on fringe theories who has spent a year following QAnon for a book, says there are a lot of fractures emerging.

“You have a movement that really depended on a leader that now doesn’t have a leader,” he said.

“And so it’s very rudderless and you’re getting a lot of infighting between members.”

Jitarth Jadeja followed QAnon passionately for a year and a half. Now, he runs a support group online called QAnon Casualties for people who have lost their loved ones to what he describes as a “doomsday cult”.

He says it’s the “saddest place on the internet”, with stories of marriages torn apart, friendships broken and even suicides.

The enduring success of QAnon may depend on how willing people are to experience endless disappointments.

Mr Jadeja said that “in a strange vein of irony, the failed prophecies only seek to further add legitimacy to the beliefs of its members”.

When one date doesn’t deliver, he says, people just look to another.

With 4 March set to be yet another disappointment and no new posts by “Q” since 8 December, followers are already floating new potential dates.

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