zenpundit.com

Coronavirus meets QAnon – conspiracy, terror threat, new religion!

May 21st, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI has already suggested QAnon should be considered a terror threat — now two writers in quick succession suggest it qualifies as, or indeed contains, a new religious movement ]
.

I’d like to draw the attention of my New Religious Movement (NRM) friends and those working on extremism to three recent posts concerning the QAnon conspiracy as a new religious movement:

  • Adrienne LaFrance, The Prophecies of Q
  • Marc-André Argentino, The Church of QAnon: Will conspiracy theories form the basis of a new religious movement?
  • Marc-André Argentino, There’s a lot that I couldn’t include so I will supplement with a thread
  • **

    The Atlantic article, by Adrienne LaFrance, is the most wide-angle of the three. Let’s start with her rough description of QAnon, pitched to its political side:

    Nine years later, as reports of a fearsome new virus suddenly emerged, and with Trump now president, a series of ideas began burbling in the QAnon community: that the coronavirus might not be real; that if it was, it had been created by the “deep state,” the star chamber of government officials and other elite figures who secretly run the world; that the hysteria surrounding the pandemic was part of a plot to hurt Trump’s reelection chances; and that media elites were cheering the death toll. Some of these ideas would make their way onto Fox News and into the president’s public utterances. As of late last year, according to The New York Times, Trump had retweeted accounts often focused on conspiracy theories, including those of QAnon, on at least 145 occasions.

    What’s interesting about this article, and will be missed by many analysts and other readers because they are blind to religion, is the religious emphasis present from the title, The Prophecies of Q, through the italicized intro, with its subhead “Genesis”, its talk of “adherents” and a “clash between good and evil” and “Great Awakening” that is coming — shades of the “Great Awakening” that Jonathan Edwards was associated with! Indeed, the eschatological (end times) content is even more explicit:

    QAnon carries on a tradition of apocalyptic thinking that has spanned thousands of years. It offers a polemic to empower those who feel adrift.

    and:

    “There are QAnon followers out there,” Shelly said, “who suggest that what we’re going through now, in this crazy political realm we’re in now, with all of the things that are happening worldwide, is very biblical, and that this is Armageddon.”

    Too, there’s the suggestion that QAnon effectively comprises a system of belief, enshrined in the closing, one line paragraph:

    You know all this because you believe in Q.

    And the next day, the Atlantic took things a declarative stage further, heading a note:

    QAnon Is a New American Religion

    **

    Okay, QAnon Is [according to the Atlantic] a New American Religion. But Marc-André Argentino‘s approach is more tight-focused: he actually attends “ekklesia” [roughly, here, “house church”] services with strong QAnon content over a period of a couple of years, and reports back:

    What I’ve witnessed is an existing model of neo-charismatic home churches — the neo-charismatic movement is an offshoot of evangelical Protestant Christianity and is made up of thousands of independent organizations — where QAnon conspiracy theories are reinterpreted through the Bible. In turn, QAnon conspiracy theories serve as a lens to interpret the Bible itself.

    Here are a couple of samples:

    At a service held on April 26, Wagner and Bushey spoke about a QAnon theory, called Project Looking Glass, that the U.S. military has secretly developed a form of time-travel technology. Wagner suggested to e-congregants that time travel can be explained by certain passages in the Bible.

    On May 3, the theme of the QAnon portion of the service was about COVID-19. Bushey spoke about a popular QAnon theory that the pandemic was planned. (There is no evidence of this.) And when an anti-vax conspiracy theory documentary called “Plandemic” went viral , the video was shared on the HCW websites as a way for e-congregants to consume the latest in a series of false theories about the coronavirus.

    **

    The QAnon ekklesia Marc-André Argentino attended is called the Omega Kingdom Ministry, and quotes Q:

    It’s going to be Biblical

    — where Biblical is intended both literally and metaphorically — enormous!!

    This is emphasized in large letters on a greenboard reproduced in Argentino’s subsequent twitter thread, which is also used for four panels explaining the parallels between the Biblical Passover and “Passover II” associated with QAnon, of which I’m reproducing on here:

    The rhetoric here, “For as Benjamin Netanyahu is to Israel, so shall this man be” is nicely reminiscent of Romans 8:14, James 2:26, and [forgive me] I Corinthians 11:12, “For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman>”

    **

    Whether or not the entire QAnon movement as a whole can be considered a NRM [New Religious Movement], there certainly exists within it an ekklesia and ministry.

    NRM scholars, as well as FBI agents and other terrorism analysts, should keep their eyes on the QAnon phenomenon.

    Coronavirus meets the limits of logic

    May 20th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — this one’s strictly for fun ]
    .

    We have my friend the bead game designer JustKnecht to thank fo passing along this gem:

    That’s a screen-grab, it has to be — and it’s pretty astonishing to find the chyron to a screen-grab referencing Bertie Russell, let alone Russell’s paradox. I must have grabbed dozens of chyrons a few months back, when I was looking for game and sports metaphors for warfare — I never saw anything like this!

    Kudos!

    BTW, it’s an ouroboros paradox too, isn’t it?

    Coronavirus meets extremism

    May 19th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — juggling far too many balls, here’s white supremacist and Islamist extremism, closing with an Aaron Zelin tweet and a happy — I hope — note on the Taliban & Kashmir ]
    .

    Extremism in general:

  • CBS, Extremists are using the coronavirus to radicalize and spread conspiracies online
  • As cities and countries around the world take drastic steps to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, extremist groups are trying to use the pandemic to radicalize people online.

    According to a report released by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, “Supporters of domestic and international extremist groups have encouraged followers to conduct attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic to incite panic, target minorities and immigrants, and celebrate the deaths of their enemies.”

    Note that: “domestic and international extremist groups” — we need to be on the watch for both domestic and foreign extremist groups.

    Likewise:

  • CTP, Tech & Terrorism: Extremist Groups Leverage Coronavirus Pandemic Online
  • **

    White Supremacism, Militias, and Alt-Right, &c:

  • NYT, The Coronavirus Becomes a Battle Cry for U.S. Extremists
  • April is typically a busy month for white supremacists. There is Hitler’s birthday, which they contort into a celebration. There is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the domestic attack 25 years ago that killed 168 people and still serves as a rallying call for new extremist recruits.

    But this April, something else overshadowed those chilling milestones. It was the coronavirus, and the disruption it wreaked on society, that became the extremists’ battle cry.

    Embellishing Covid-19 developments to fit their usual agenda, extremists spread disinformation on the transmission of the virus and disparage stay-at-home orders as “medical martial law” — the long-anticipated advent of a totalitarian state.

  • Politico, DHS warns of increase in violent extremism amid coronavirus lockdowns
  • Those arrested in the last month include an “anti-government extremist” who threatened to kill New Mexico’s governor over the coronavirus restrictions, and another individual who was arrested late last month for allegedly threatening to blow up the Orlando Police Department’s headquarters — hours after a countywide stay-at-home order was put into effect — because people are being “put … out of work” because of the pandemic.

  • Charles Bethea, A Coronavirus Turf War in Klickitat County
  • Betty Barnes, the mayor of Bingen, just to the east of White Salmon, agreed. “I haven’t been lynched yet, but I know some of the guidelines we’re supporting aren’t popular with some people, especially in Goldendale,” she said. “And they’re the ones with the biggest outbreak in our county, so that’s not really understandable to me.”

  • Sara Burnett, Michigan militia puts armed protest in the spotlight
  • The “American Patriot Rally” started on the statehouse steps, where members of the Michigan Liberty Militia stood guard with weapons and tactical gear, their faces partially covered. They later moved inside the Capitol along with several hundred protesters, who demanded to be let onto the House floor, which is prohibited. Some protesters with guns — which are allowed in the statehouse — went to the Senate gallery, where a senator said some armed men shouted at her, and some senators wore bulletproof vests.

  • Craig Mauger, Senator: Threats are ‘about spreading blood’ on Michigan Capitol lawn
  • Heated speeches at the end of the Michigan Senate session Tuesday featured Democratic lawmakers demanding action to limit guns in the Capitol and the Republican leader denouncing threats against the Democratic governor.

    The speeches came less than two weeks after dozens of protesters openly carried firearms inside the Capitol building as they demonstrated against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, which is meant to stem the spread of COVID-19.

  • CEP, Extremist Content Online: White Supremacists Urge Followers On Telegram To Exploit COVID-19
  • This week, white supremacist and neo-Nazi accelerationist Telegram channels continued calling for the exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, British neo-Nazi group Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD) launched a Telegram channel challenging a membership ban that the British government implemented last month. Also, chan imageboard and Telegram chat users praise Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant following his guilty plea.

    **

    Jihadists, AQ and ISIS &c:

    The clearest religious rhetoric is found in this piece:

  • Brad Hunter, ISIS, al-Qaida commandeer COVID-19 as a ‘soldier of Allah’
  • ISIS and al-Qaida claim that the virus and ensuing global pandemic are retribution on the wicked West courtesy of God.

    In typical, flowery al-Qaida style, the death cult released a statement.

    “Allah, the Creator, has revealed the brittleness and vulnerability of your material strength,” reads the maniacal missive. “It is now clear for all to see that it was but a deception that could not stand the test of the smallest soldier of God on the face of the Earth.”

    The next two headlines speak for themselves:

  • HS Today, ISIS: Cities Distracted by Coronavirus Should be Hit with Attacks Like Paris, London, Brussels
  • HS Today, ISIS Magazine Calls for Attacks on ‘Easy Target’ Military, Police During Coronavirus Chaos
  • Then there’s this, from the esteemed Aaron Zelin:

    **

    I’d like to close on what is, or might be, a positive note:

    Taliban & Kashmir:

    Taliban acknowledges Kashmir internal matter of India after fake tweets

    The Taliban reaffirm their interests extending only to the boundaries of the present state of Afghanistan, and their acceptance of India’s claim to Kashmir –with a detail I explore in Religion meets the coronavirus #13.

    Very proud of my nephew — Sunday surprise

    May 17th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — as some of you may know, my nephew Daniel Harding is a celebrated orchestral conductor — but did you know he was also a qualified commercial pilot? — he’s been planning on taking a year’s vacation to pilot for Air France ]
    .

    I’m very fond of ‘air conducting” music I’m listening to — but that’s just my mode of “dancing while sitting down” as one of my teachers called it. Much more wonderful, IMO, is the work of my nephew, the conductor Daniel Harding. Today I ran across his performance, some years ago, of three Beethoven symphonies with the orchestra he loved and worked with for years, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

    I’ll share them — Beethoven, Symphonies ## 5, 6, and 7— such bodily enthusiasm, so fresh the well-worn music:

    **

    Here, more recently, is Daniel‘s Beethoven #3, the Eroica, with the London Symphony Orchestra:

    **

    And how could I not offer you Daniel conducting Beethoven #9:

    **

    Daniel, who holds a commercial pilot’s license, was going to take a year’s sabbatical from music to work as an Air France pilot, but .. coronavirus. If I get any news, I’ll pass it along.

    The one great pressing Question

    May 17th, 2020

    [ by Charles Cameron — I wish to acknowledge the impact Prem Rawat has had on my thinking during the course of this lockdown ]
    .

    A sequence of headlines says it all:

    The Question:

    **

    Ouch:

    **

    To be Specific:

    **

    The Opportunity:

    **

    The Answer:

    Science gives a patina of the factual, the tested, the proven, the real, and fiction allows both the extrapolation of strict science to future possibilities (Larry Niven, Ringworld, if I remember correctly), but also the intrusion of the magical (RA Lafferty, Narrow Valley).

    The question is both obvious and pressing, but of all those writing about it, and the essays above are a decent sample, Kim Stanley Robinson is the one with heart and mind most attuned to possible futures — so of all the above essays, hers is the one I’d trust, and would offer you for your consideration. Her thesis, in the small italic print above:

    What felt impossible has become thinkable. The spring of 2020 is suggestive of how much, and how quickly, we can change as a civilization.

    Chew on that for a while.

    **

    I suspect this is likely to become a series: I’ve accordingly labelled it #1. This is just setting the scene.

    **

    A hint from Maa Ganga, the goddess of India’s most sacred river Ganges:

  • Deccan Chronicle, Coronavirus caused lockdown is healing the holy Ganga
  •  
    The ganga, which flows through five states and is most polluted in Varanasi — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency — is now regaining all its lost glory, slowly. Pollution in the sacred river has come down by over 40 per cent and is likely to increase as the lock down continues across the country. Though successive governments including the present Modi government spent thousands of crores in cleaning the ganga and still failed miserably, looks like nature always finds its own way of healing.

    **

    Sources:

    Offered here so you can read in detail according to your interests and time
    availability:

  • Adam Gopnik, Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Really Change the Way We Think?
  • John Cassidy, Will the Coronavirus Create a More Progressive Society or a More Dystopian One?
  • Rama Mohana R. Turaga, Will COVID-19 Lockdowns Generate Public Support for Climate Change Mitigation?
  • Siddharth Goel, Public Awareness of the Pandemic Is Our Chance to Enforce Better Climate Plans
  • Kim Stanley RobinsonThe Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations

  • Switch to our mobile site