It's likely that before the year is over, Lauren Boebert will be expelled from Congress for having shown violent domestic terrorists around the Capitol complex as part of the right-wing planning for the attempted Trump coup. But as of now, the only person who has been disciplined for being an insane and unhinged extremist is the other QAnon walking freak show, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the sex-hungry racist sociopath that Paulding, Floyd, Whitfield, Catoosa. Walker, Gordon, Polk and all or parts of 5 other counties in northwest Georgia thought would be a good idea to send to Washington to represent exactly who and what they are as a unit. By a large bipartisan majority, Taylor-Greene was unceremoniously kicked off all her committees.
They may love her in anti-mask precincts in the most backward part of the Old Confederacy-- where her racism is a much-appreciated feature-- but she is generally the most disliked member of Congress... and widely considered the most worthless.
One Republican staffer to a senior member told me that Greene's GOP colleagues "shudder" and "roll their eyes" when they hear her name. "If Pelosi wanted to invent someone to make us all look bad she could never do as well as this [bleep]... She's the most divisive figure on Capitol Hill."
Now that her absurdist Anglo-Saxon Caucus has been laughed out of the building-- with her pretending she didn't know anything about it-- her latest trick is a decision she announced yesterday to "soon" introduce a resolution to expel Maxine Waters from Congress for inciting violence. At first I was wondering if it was violence against Greene ally Gym Jordan. But no...
It was for burning down American towns (as another Greene neo-Nazi ally explained), unable, like Taylor Greene, to understand the basic difference between protesting injustice and a premeditated violent coup attempt.
If you want some insight into Greene's rotted brain-- other than her drug addiction-- I would suggest Derek Robertson's piece in Politico Magazine yesterday, The Secrets of QAnon's Appeal. The story of QAnon's appeal is the story of Taylor Greene's appeal. If you do read it, keep in mind that "Critics accuse QAnon’s chroniclers in the media of failing to learn Trump-era lessons about the role mainstream media plays in amplifying disinformation and extremist content. And more than any behind-the-scenes revelation about the conspiracy itself, [HBO's QAnon documentary mini-series] Into the Storm is most striking in what it reveals about how the beliefs and language of the paranoiac far right have spread like wildfire through our culture and politics-- and the role the media has, or hasn’t, played in that phenomenon."
"[T]he debate over who or what is responsible for the spread of QAnon." wrote Robertson, "raises a question with both cultural and political salience: Are a (still unclear) number of American minds preternaturally receptive to conspiracy theories? Or was former President Trump a one-of-a-kind hype man for them in a unique historical moment? ... The cumulative effect of Q: Into the Storm is to paint a picture at the individual level of how and why conspiracy-mongers do what they do, complementing an already-expansive body of work that focuses on the oddball beliefs and broken social bonds of QAnon’s followers."
Taken as a collective body of work, the effect is to confront Americans outside the Q bubble with the startlingly complete, stratified mirror world within it. Once you see how that world works, it becomes difficult to imagine that well-meaning New York Times or Vox debunkers are the essential tinder that fuels them, as many “disinformation” experts and media critics have claimed. It’s the job of conspiracists-- it defines them-- to jump at ghosts, and make the milquetoast somehow sinister. They may take heart, and validation, in attention from the mainstream media, but the unfettered freedom social media provides has ensured there will be paranoid traps ready to ensnare the gullible, vulnerable, or just plain prejudiced as long as such people exist-- that is to say, forever, or until said platforms pull the plug.
On January 6, Q supporters seized that validation by force, in an act that transformed their paranoid fantasy into threatening reality. In doing so, they might also have date-stamped the high-water mark of their influence. Into the Storm uses the events of that day as a bleak coda, depicting not only the day’s horrific violence, but a decidedly less confident and jaunty Jim Watkins than the one to whom we’re accustomed. Hoback shows a grizzled, unkempt Watkins hobbling around Washington as a mere bystander to the violent weather system of reaction in which Q has operated.
As disturbing as the January 6 riots were, they did not overturn the 2020 electoral defeat of Donald Trump, who left Washington quietly and ignominiously weeks later, hours ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, undisturbed by the Q believers’ expected military junta.
By that point the mainstream media had the Q beat down cold, providing blow-by-blow accounts of how Q-centric communities were cracking up in the face of their failed prophecies. Apparent in the numerous viral videos of tear-stricken, disappointed Q supporters is the extent to which the conspiracy served a real emotional purpose-- filled a real emotional void-- in their lives. It led some of them to violence, and many more to personal ruin and conflict.
The Q conspiracy was a phony premise but a real phenomenon, rooted in Donald Trump’s reality-warping near-superpowers and the major social media platforms’ informational anarchy. His presence as the head of state, along with his repeated refusal to disavow QAnon, gave it the fig leaf of plausibility that enabled so many followers to take their epistemic leap of faith. Now that he’s gone and Q’s prophecies have repeatedly proven false, the community has splintered, and a cryptic message from Ron Watkins himself-- which seemed to signal to his wards that they’d reached the end of the line-- didn’t help. The mass punitive action social media giants have taken in the wake of January 6 has seriously dented the conspiracy, driving its remaining diehard supporters into increasingly private and niche communities where the barrier for entry is significantly higher. As has been the case since January 20 for so many other forces of reaction, it’s easier than ever to tune out Q’s frequency.
Yet if the media have learned anything from the past five years, it’s that ignoring social phenomena that seem bizarre or distasteful doesn’t slow their spread. It just leaves politicians, reporters, neighbors and family members ignorant, until the aggrieved show up at your constituent town hall, or on your aunt’s Facebook feed, or breaking down the doors of the Capitol with a makeshift battering ram.
It’s been just under three months since Trump left office, but already the Q documentaries conjure a world that seems decidedly in the rear-view mirror, where conspiracists shaped our reality through the presence of their ally-in-chaos in the White House. Still, to witness up close the simple, corrupting promise of the Q conspiracy leaves one with the unshakeable suspicion that it or something similar could rise again in our politics-- making the documentaries a useful reminder that more than censoring or ignoring such a thing, those who would oppose it should be prepared to make its followers a more appealing offer.
Yeah... much worse than est.