Qanon, Authoritarianism And Wishful Thinking
Few people have noticed that child abuse leads to apocalyptic fantasies.
Imagine the following scenario. You’re two years old. You figured out walking less than a year ago. You can point to things that are cool or interesting. You can have conversations with other people. You can share your thoughts. You can use your hands to feed yourself. You can explore the house all by yourself.
But one day, you happen upon a bottle of baby powder. You pour some on your hands. You pour some on the floor. You delight in the way baby powder works. You like the smell. A half-hour later, the kitchen floor is covered in baby powder. Mommy finds you and whack!
Wait? What just happened? Mommy punished you for spreading baby powder all over the kitchen. You’re crying hard while Mommy ignores you as she cleans the floor. She grumbles about having to clean the floor and missing “Days Of Our Lives”. No one is there to hug you. Daddy’s at work. You miss Daddy. You just suffered your first apocalypse.
This kind of situation is not uncommon in America, you say. But statistics still show that 90% of kids are hit by their parents at least once before they reach the age of 5. This kind of situation repeats itself in isolated households because it is often assumed that corporal punishment passes for discipline.
I believe that corporal punishment or even psychological punishment makes people more susceptible to apocalyptic fantasies such as those promoted by the now infamous, Q, leader of the Qanon movement. We don’t know who Q is, but he, she, or they, like to write in grand apocalyptic terms to describe the struggle between Donald Trump, President of the United States, and just about everyone that he hasn’t appointed to office in the federal government. Q calls that contingent of government, “The Deep State”.
I just finished reading, “Evangelicals are looking for answers online. They’re finding QAnon instead”. from MIT’s Technology Review. I found it fascinating because therein, they describe a very strong correlation between the apocalyptic messages in the Bible and in the words of Q. I found it refreshing to see that yet another group of scientists took note of this correlation and wrote about it in a way that is accessible for most people. It’s a long article at more than 3,000 words, so get comfortable if you decide to read it.
One fact that stands out in the MIT article is that the stories about pedophilia, Satan and eating babies have been around since the 1980s. So Q is recycling ancient stories for political gain. Ask a believer and they’ll deny it, but the clergy in the churches are taking notice of what’s happening. The priests and the pastors who are seeing Qanon turn up in their churches can see the politics around Q, and they’re very uncomfortable with it.
Qanons claim to want to “save the children”. Yet most of them believe that “the storm is coming”, and that retribution against those imagined baby-eating liberals will be swift. If they really wanted to save the children, they could start in their own homes by noticing when they punish their kids either physically or emotionally. They could consider a system of discipline that doesn’t include physical or psychological violence, a system that is supported by science. They could volunteer their service in places where they could actually do some good. Instead, they’re spreading gossip about people they don’t know and treating that like it’s the gospel.
I never hear about Qanons reporting what they learned from 8chan, 4kun, or whatever, to the relevant authorities. Maybe that’s because Q says, “Do nothing. Trust the plan.” The plan is that Trump is waiting for just the right time to expose those who have been abusing the children in pedophilia rings. Indictments will fly, they say. I won’t deny that there’s a problem with human trafficking and pedophilia. But people who engage in human trafficking and pedophilia were raised in a sea of abuse that most of us cannot even fathom. I’m not here to excuse their behavior, I’m just saying that if we really want to save the children, we can start at home.
For those who have put their eggs in Trump’s basket, take note that Trump has retweeted more than a hundred Qanon tweets to his 85 million followers, amplifying their conspiracy theories and promoting the idea that “the storm is coming.” You know, if I were two years old, living in an abusive household, I’d want there to be a storm coming, too. I’d want that storm to come for my parents so that they’d be compelled to go to parenting classes.
This Qanon thing is just too Trump-centric for me. It seems like Qanon is a custom-built psyop designed to boost Trump. 14% of the American people have an IQ of 85 or less. That’s 42 million people that the armed forces won’t call upon to serve because they can’t follow orders. The average American IQ is 95, and that’s not far above the baseline. These people vote. These people are susceptible to Qanon. Anyone smarter than that and still believes in Qanon has almost certainly sustained abuse as a child.
So when I hear that “the storm is coming” I hear the word, “authoritarianism”. I know, that’s a really long word, but this is what it means:
“The enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom.”
When I see the police beating up on protesters and shooting people, I think of that word. When I see the United States bombing other countries I think of that word. When I see Republicans telling us that we should get back to work during a pandemic, I think of that word. When I see Trump doing everything he can to get us to vote in person knowing that we will wait for hours in long lines to vote with voting machines that are vulnerable to hackers, during a pandemic, I think of that word. Trump is, in every respect that I can think of, authoritarian.
If you believe that Trump isn’t authoritarian, check out this interview of Eric Trump, son of Donald Trump, on the One America Network. I have to say it’s interesting that OAN prominently includes an eagle in their logo. Eagles are predators. And boy, this predator is really pro-Trump. In that interview, Eric had this to say about his parents:
“If I ever acted the way some of these…anarchists are in some of these cities…my father and mother would have beaten the life out of me, they really would, they would have killed me.”
Eric Trump speaks his truth here. He has had a real fear of his parents. He lives in a Skinner Box designed by his parents and for now, it serves him well.
But this idea that the storm is coming and that Donald Trump is going pull the covers off of some giant conspiracy, well, that’s just magical thinking. Here’s more magical thinking: Donald Trump is going to save the economy with more tax cuts. Donald Trump is going to make sure America finds a vaccine for the coronavirus first. Donald Trump is a fantasy imagined by adult children who honestly believe that if we apply enough force, we can make humans live in peace together and get them all to go to the same church.
To me, Trump, Qanon, and all their grand plans represent wishful thinking at an enormous scale. And as Google is so fond of saying, “everything breaks at scale.” They should know. This is why I avoid Trump. This is why I won’t vote for Trump. Qanon is a strike against Trump. It is pure fantasy to think that Trump is a hero and that he’s working day and night to make things right. Maybe he is, but I have to say, he’s not very efficient at his job if he really is working to set things right.
So take note of the magical thinking, the grand fantasies, and apocalyptic predictions. Those are not attributes of reasonable or healthy people. Anyone who thinks that one man is going to save us all should stop watching movies and read some history. That isn’t going to happen. If anyone saves our country, it will be the rest of us, practicing habits that lead to healthy lives, inside and out. We can save this country through honest political discourse and collaborative problem solving that leads to durable, reliable solutions that all us can use. There is no other way.