QAnon Way Ahead Of You With Conspiracy Theory About FBI Calling Their Conspiracy Theories A Domestic Terror Threat
For the last couple weeks, Ted Cruz has been leading the fight to get Antifa branded as a terrorist organization despite the fact that it isn't actually an organization. Trump himself has recently jumped on that train as well. There are two big problems with this. For one, it's not the president that declares a group a terrorist threat, and for another, unlike right-wing extremists, people who engage in Antifa -- short for anti-fascist -- activities haven't killed anyone or done anything that would traditionally come under the label of terrorism. While punching someone in the face or throwing a milkshake at them is a form of assault, it's not "terrorism."
Alas! It's not Antifa getting that designation, but rather far-right, pro-Trump conspiracy theorists.
A memo published Thursday on Yahoo revealed that the FBI is now considering far-right conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and QAnon to be a domestic terror threat, simply because there have been several actually serious violent incidents and attempted violent incidents in the past few years in which belief in one or more of these theories was a factor.
Sure, "LOL guess who's a domestic terrorist now!" is cathartic, but I'm not at all certain that this designation alone is all that helpful. If they're just slapping a label on these conspiracy communities and not actually doing any follow-up in terms of paying attention to them, their targets and —most importantly — the specific dates they're looking forward to, this might not do much more than feed into the persecution complexes these people already have. Judging by a statement provided to Yahoo by the FBI's national press office, they don't intend on doing any of that:
"While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI routinely shares information with our law enforcement partners in order to assist in protecting the communities they serve," the FBI said.
In its statement, the FBI also said it can "never initiate an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity. As with all of our investigations, the FBI can never monitor a website or a social media platform without probable cause."
If there's probable cause to label this a domestic terror threat, how is there not probable cause to find out what these people actually believe and what people or things they see as targets? They're acknowledging that these theories could make certain targets vulnerable, but without any monitoring of websites and social media sites (which are public, by the way), they can't do anything to make these targets more safe in advance of someone going off the rails.
As ridiculous and poisonous as all the QAnon bullshit is, I actually don't think the vast majority of people involved with it are prone to doing any kind of "domestic terrorism." Their whole mantra is "trust the plan" — meaning that anything that happens, even if it seems really bad for them, is all part of Donald Trump's master plan. All they are supposed to do, they believe, is assist him with "research" and then sit back and "enjoy the show" when martial law is enacted and the mass arrests of everyone they've ever disliked begin. I would actually argue that the people who are most dangerous here are the ones who "lose their faith" in the face of Q's predictions not coming true and who then attempt to take things into their own hands.
For instance, while you might think that they would see the FBI's memo and wonder, if "Q" were truly in cahoots with Donald Trump and if the Q people were "helping" Trump with their "research," why he would allow the FBI to call the QAnon conspiracy shit a domestic terror threat. But they have multiple explanations!
One, currently being promoted on Gateway Pundit by Stupidest Man on the Internet Jim Hoft, is that the designation doesn't count somehow because the document cites Snopes and Wikipedia as sources.
Another is that Yahoo actually fabricated the document, in cahoots with Jill McCabe, wife of former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe:
There is indeed a Jill McCabe who works in the Phoenix field office, but Andrew McCabe's wife, Jill, is an emergency room pediatrician. We think they might be different people. Or lizard people. Maybe that too.
Then there is the theory that this was done on purpose in order to "force the question."
What they mean by this is that the Q people have long been hoping for a reporter to ask Trump about Q, at which point they expect that he will say that "Q" is real and is acting at his behest or whatever.
One particular sentence in the FBI memo that acknowledges the fact that the existence of actual, proven conspiracies and cover-ups makes people more likely to believe in stupid, unproven conspiracies is being taken by the "anons" as "proof" that the reason the FBI considers them a threat is because what they are uncovering is real.
Another factor driving the intensity of conspiracy theorizing in the United States, and the subsequent threat from conspiracy-minded extremists, is the uncovering of real conspiracies or cover-ups involving illegal, harmful, or unconstitutional activities by government officials or leading political figures.
Reading comprehension is not their strong point!
I do believe that having a greater understanding of these conspiracy theories can help law enforcement when they are in the middle of a situation in which a perpetrator believes in one of them, but the publication of this particular memo may cause more harm than good.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse