On Friday, writing for the Chicago Tribune, columnist Virginia Heffernan argued that the QAnon conspiracy — which holds that former President Donald Trump is fighting to take down a cabal of flesh-eating pedophile Satanists who rule the United States — is rapidly falling apart and will soon fade into the history books.
"QAnon, who made a messiah out of former President Donald Trump, was always bound to lose steam. It will follow the arc of furious, loopy-loo American conspiracy theories that have existed since before the Civil War. Cults like QAnon burn bright, and they fade fast," wrote Heffernan. "QAnon's demise, in fact, is well underway. Its leader, Q, a figure from the internet's dark side, is now widely suspected to be the creation of Jim and Ron Watkins. The Watkins men are a seedy father-son duo in Asia who serve up pornography and hate speech online."
As evidence of the decline, Heffernan noted: the mysterious anonymous poster "Q" whose cryptic messages drove the theory has vanished from the internet; many believers have now disavowed the movement; and the fallout from the January 6 Capitol riot has led many more to blame the movement for their violence.
"QAnoners who are still on board aren't sure what any of it means anymore," wrote Heffernan. "Some have stopped talking about Trump and now just preach antisemitism. Others urge supporters to take on debt because somehow the future belongs to cryptocurrency and the Iraqi dinar. Orthodox Q types, whose numbers are diminishing, are presumably still waiting for tribunals for Trump's enemies and, of course, the storm. But then late last month, pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, one possible heir apparent to the Q empire, dismissed some of the most popular Q memes at a Dallas Q convention. 'There are no military tribunals that's magically going to solve this problem for us,' she said."
"Of course, that's not the end of dangers posed by fanatical groups. It might not be QAnon next time, but extremist ideologies and paranoid fantasies will always captivate the dispossessed," concluded Heffernan. "And if we're still battling a cult that's defeated, we're in strategic trouble. Not only will we have failed to learn from Q's unraveling, but we also won't be able to recognize the next catastrophe, let alone prevent it."
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