First they came for the Querdenkers, and I said nothing because I was not a Querdenker. Then they came for the Querfronts, and I said nothing because I was not a Querfront. Then they came for Ghost Ezra and then the story was over.
If any of that made sense to you, I am sorry. The reader would have to be steeped in deep QAnon lore to recognize the stench of this supremely protean thing — a movement that’s so into schisms that it makes Protestantism seem sane and normal. The great body of Q-thought spins off new scary conspiracy theories and cults minute by minute, creating alternate histories with sometimes inscrutable themes and an ever multiplying cast of characters.
Hillary Clinton eating a baby? Sure. Old hat. JFK Jr. coming back from the dead? Okay, I’m still with you. JFK the original is also coming back? This is getting a little weird. Robin Williams and Prince are coming along too? Okay, I’m back on board.
The Q movement and its hundreds of bitter spawn are fixated on many lurid things: chiefly, the sexual abuse and trafficking of children, from which point it expands into an incredible embroidery of increasingly florid evils. It’s easy to dismiss Q as a symptom of the Internet destroying our minds; of the death grip Donald Trump inexplicably has on millions of ordinary Americans; or even as a merely weird hobby or sideshow, a LARP or RPG for lonely dwellers of the Web.
But it’s hard to write it off so easily. One has to wonder, and sincerely: where does the appetite come from that makes people want to think about child sexual abuse, like… almost all the time?
Or perhaps Q is a mythic way of digesting the fact that institutions across the board have failed us, and that rich, connected people really do get to do whatever they want. The currently unfolding trial of one Ghislaine Maxwell reveals that elites can romp through a ticky-tacky Eyes Wide Shut paradise of their own making, where everyone, even children, can be treated as little more than sexual furniture. That includes at least two former US presidents, prestigious academics, CEOs, finance ghouls, baby-seal clubbers, disgraced Kawasaki dealers from Spartanburg, wandering Men’s Rights activists, and so on.
Between school shooters, Nazis, climate change, literally dozens of COVIDs, capricious employers and landlords, and crazy people on TV, it’s not hard to understand why people would get a little bit of that hunted feeling. As the great historian Robert Wiebe once said, “Men in confusion clutched what they knew.” It’s just that, in this case what they know is Donald Trump.
I still can’t stop thinking about how excited Elaine Benes would be that JFK Jr. is coming back. Here is a long overdue update of our best reading picks:
- L.M. Sacasas on why You Can’t Optimize for Rest (Convivial Society)
- America’s unemployed are sending a message: They’ll go back to work when they feel safe – and well-compensated (WaPo)
- Querdenker, Querfront, and QAnon: On the German Far-Right and Its American Occupation (EuropeNow)
- Policymakers Used to Ignore Child Care. Then Came the Pandemic. (NYT)
- Steven Espada Dawson’s Elegy for the Four Chambers of My Mother’s Heart (Booth)
- Joyce Echaquan: Racism played role in death, coroner finds (BBC)
- How AT&T helped build far-right One America News (Reuters)
- The flood that drowned American dreams (BBC)
- Dreams are a precious resource. Don’t let advertisers hack them (Aeon Essays)
- Revolt of the delivery workers (The Verge)
- When McDonalds Came to Denmark (Matt Bruenig)
- ‘We’re talking about a big, powerful phenomenon’: Multiracial Americans drive change (WaPo)
- Filling In a News Gap for Black West Virginians (Yes Magazine)
- A small-town mom wanted to help her community. And then the community took aim at her child (CNN)
- Help! I Couldn’t Stop Writing Fake Dear Prudence Letters that Got Published (Gawker)
- China’s Ongoing Struggle Against ‘Sissy’ Young Men (Sixth Tone)
- The news is by — and for — rich, white liberals (Vox Conversations)
- The Distributed Empire of the War on Terror (Boston Review)
- South Koreans are so stressed, they’re forking out cash just to sit in a room and stare blankly into space (Insider)
- The Violence of the Fourth Wave: “One Thing We Have Learned Is that COVID Is an Asshole” (Der Spiegel)
- My Boyfriend Was the Writer Anthony Veasna So. This Is How We Met. (Buzzfeed)
- ‘A Loveable Anarchist’: The Oral History of Mr Blobby (Vice)
- Black Sci-Fi: Stories from the End of the World (BBC Sounds)
- Higher ed and public radio are enmeshed. So what happens when the culture wars come? (Nieman Lab)
- Was there no room for the queer individual in Arab history? (Aeon Essays)
- Meet ‘Little Amal’, 11-feet tall puppet, spreading awareness of Syrian refugees across Europe (Firstpost)
- Syrian detention camp rocked by dozens of killings blamed on Islamic State women (WaPo)
- A Remote Working Future Could Have A Big Impact On Gas Prices (WABE)
- 9/11 and the birth of the Big Lie (Lucian Truscott)
- BTS Billboard Removed in Pakistan For ‘Promoting Homosexuality’ (Out)
- Photomicrography Competition (Nikon Small World)
- What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation (Medium)
- The unusual headaches that upended this man’s life began with a new car (WaPo)
- “I was living in fast-forward, trying desperately to have a life before I died.” (Boston Review)
- Identifying the UK’s oldest meat-eating dinosaur (BBC)
- What if, instead of confronting China’s rise, we must manage its decline? (WaPo)
- This Nobel Prize is a game-changer (CNN)
- Michael Stipe is present (Bitter Southerner)
- WHAT?: Wyoming Can’t Stop Googling This Pumpkin Spice Food (KGAB)
- Rare Antarctic penguin accidentally travels 3,000km to New Zealand (BBC)
- The Unconventional Weapon Against Future Wildfires: Goats (NYT)