I don’t swear in my headlines very often; however, this deserves to be addressed in the spirit of righteous indignation. But before I get too far into this post, I’d like to direct everyone to read conservative pundit Rick Wilson’s excellent take-down of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory and it’s followers. Read it first if you can, and then return to this post. Anyway, to quote Wilson from that piece:
When difficult realities confront people without the intellectual horsepower to understand and accept the truth, some turn to conspiracy theories to paper over the holes in their worldview. No matter how absurd, baroque, and improbable, conspiracies grow on their own like mental kudzu where inconsistencies aren’t signs of illogical conclusions, but of another, deeper layer of some hidden truth, some skein of powerful forces holding the world in its grip.
It’s true that there are a lot of dumb, ignorant people out there who fall for this stuff hook, line and sinker. But that’s what makes propaganda effective, and this is propaganda, cooked up in the filthy, unregulated meth lab that is 4chan by some white supremacist asshole who knew exactly what he was doing: taking the natural next step from the politically profitable Pizzagate episode and building on it by creating an obvious V-like character with an equally short code name and making up an entire backstory and mythos for him.
Whoever concocted this science fiction scenario is ultimately of little concern; what matters is its impact on the culture, and as we are starting to see by those t-shirts worn by many people at recent Trump rallies, it has made some headway into the mainstream. This is not only disturbing, it’s outright offensive to real sexual abuse survivors, of which I am one. Because for every dumb-ass who wholeheartedly believes in this nonsense, there’s another who knows it’s bullshit and happily repeats it anyway, choking it for all of its political momentum, and the fact that sexual abuse has now become such a politicized issue—having been weaponized by the far right in order to tar prominent Democrats with the most hated designation one can have—is a grave insult to actual abuse victims and survivors.
If abuse survivors are not offended by this, they should be. This sort of cavalier treatment of a very serious issue is, in effect, a regression to the days when few would believe you or do anything about it if you worked up the courage to report these crimes to them. It was a cultural coup for survivors to finally make society aware of both the ubiquity and seriousness of sexual abuse. And now, a group of shameless schemers exploiting that hard-won gravitas for political gain is the sort of thing that every real survivor, every person who has genuinely suffered at the hands of molesters, rapists and child pornographers, should be protesting in the streets. For what it does is reinforce the counterargument offered by abusers and abuse apologists that when survivors come forward and accuse someone of this most serious of crimes, they are just making it up for attention or personal advantage of some sort.
Well, that’s exactly what the creators and purveyors of Q-Anon are doing, and it threatens to undo every bit of social good will survivors have slowly engendered over decades and create a ‘boy who cries wolf’-type situation where an actual high-level politician is caught abusing a child and few people believe it happened because it’s someone in the trusted party and/or there have been too many false alarms like Pizzagate and Q-Anon thrown around. We saw this with Roy Moore, where white Republicans essentially dismissed or ignored what were very credible accusations because it didn’t fit with their worldview. This is a dangerous situation to create.
It becomes a very real possibility in that environment for abusers to get away with their crimes simply because they happen to belong to the popular party, are well-liked, succeed at whatever they do, hold all the “correct” beliefs. How many times have we heard the stories of victims whose abusers were successful and well-liked? It’s hard enough for the survivors of such offenders to get others to believe them when they say that the person is not who everyone thinks he or she is. And now, to throw politics into that already volatile mix, especially in such divisive times, is a slap in the face to bona fide survivors. It displays contempt for them by turning their tragedy into a well-crafted lie designed to bring down political rivals. It neither protects kids from abuse nor honors victims who have already been abused. In fact, it does the opposite by deflecting attention away from the true culprits.
The lie that the political left is attempting to justify sexual abuse of children through acceptance of LGBT folks is almost laughably absurd, but it’s part and parcel of the right’s deflection when it comes to its own corruption and hypocrisy. As I’ve said before, would it be easier to convince society that pedophiles should have civil rights akin to gays and lesbians, or to convince them that sex with kids was justified by tradition and religious beliefs? We don’t have to conjecture too far here, as we have evidence to support this point. The idea of pedophiles getting the exact same rights as those in the LGBT spectrum, including the right to have sex with their preferred partners, has never made the slightest headway in any society, no matter how liberal, in the forty or so years since NAMBLA and PIE were founded. Meanwhile, in many countries, including the United States, child marriage still occurs with semi-regularity on traditional and religious grounds, cults both large and small– e.g. Children of God, the Fundamentalist LDS Church led by Warren Jeffs, David Koresh’s Branch Davidian cult—have leaders who frequently get away with abuse right out in the open, even sanctioned by the followers (to say nothing of how long sexual abuse flourished and went unaddressed in the Catholic Church), and Roy Moore came very close to winning the special election in Alabama last year, only losing because his openly racist rhetoric brought out black Democrat voters in droves, and thank God for that!
The far right has always used these sorts of black propaganda tactics, but now these tactics are being embraced, or at best ignored, by much of Trump’s base, which comprises about 30% of the US population. That’s still millions of people, a good chunk of them spreading this obvious lie around. The seeds of the Q-Anon fable have been planted and cultivated by people like Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh for years, with the gradual raising of both the scale and heinousness of Democrats’ supposed crimes, to the point where almost anything will be believed now. But when the dust settles and people come to their senses again—and they will—the resulting knee-jerk reaction will almost certainly be a wholescale devaluing of abuse victims’ credibility and influence on the cultural landscape, especially if the accused is a politician or celebrity, and that will be a condition ripe for exploitation by politicians or celebrities who are, in fact, abusive to minors. They do exist, but they are thankfully rare.
I’ve been saying for awhile that the right loves to beat this particular drum louder than most, whereas in reality few of them are doing so because they care about the welfare of kids in general or about victims of abuse. That has been demonstrated time and time again by the nature of their attacks and the range of their targets, which include not only actual child molesters but MAPs who are committed to never offending, members of the medical and scientific community who are tackling this issue from a therapeutic standpoint rather than a forensic one, and even abuse survivors (some of them still minors) who do not line up with them politically.
All of the hard right’s beliefs about and policies for curtailing sexual abuse are either morally reprehensible, mostly ineffective, or both. These policies, especially the ones that tend toward violence, are neither logical nor compassionate. They have little or nothing to do with protecting kids or providing justice to survivors and almost everything to do with their own tendency towards expedient solutions to complex problems, including eradicating their own deep-seated insecurities. Pizzagate, and now Q-Anon, are just another manifestation of this, a false assurance to the faithful that the Democrats as an entity are thoroughly evil and will meet with the proper justice soon, when Q comes forward with all the hard evidence he’s apparently been hording for just the right moment. And then, somehow, all of Trump’s own crimes and corruption will be vindicated, his extremes and excesses overlooked or revealed to be illusions set up to catch all the sexual predators who supposedly gravitate to the Democrat party, even as in reality it is Republicans who are caught abusing minors at a rate of something like five to one.
Not that it matters. All offenders, no matter where they are on the political spectrum, should be exposed and treated precisely the same. But vulgar myths like Q-Anon are attempts by political partisans to make the issue entirely one-sided, to hide their own abusers while they point the finger at innocents across the aisle. If successful, it would be a win-win for the finger pointers and the real abusers and a net loss for kids and survivors. Let’s make sure that never happens.