How Ghislaine Was My Valley

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.

Ghislaine in court (not a photo)

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: