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Three Weeks Inside a Pro-Trump QAnon Chat Room

sw0mp_d0nk3y

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This is pretty interesting if you still have any of your four free NYT's reads left. The audio soundbites are great.

THREE WEEKS
INSIDE A
PRO-TRUMP QANON CHAT ROOM​

By Stuart A. ThompsonMr. Thompson is a writer and editor for Opinion.Jan. 26, 2021

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As President Biden’s inauguration ticked closer, some of Donald Trump’s supporters were feeling gleeful. Mr. Trump was on the cusp of declaring martial law, they believed. Military tribunals would follow, then televised executions, then Democrats and other deep state operatives would finally be brought to justice.
These were honestly held beliefs. Dozens of Trump supporters spoke regularly over the past three weeks on a public audio chat room app, where they uploaded short recordings instead of typing. In these candid digital confessionals, participants would crack jokes, share hopes and make predictions.
“Look at the last four years. They haven’t listened to a thing we’ve said. Um … there’s going to have to be some serious anarchy that goes on. Otherwise, nothing is going to change.”
I spent the past three weeks listening to the channel — from before the Jan. 6 Washington protest to after Mr. Biden’s inauguration. It became an obsession, something I’d check first thing every morning and listen to as I fell asleep at night. Participants tend to revere Mr. Trump and believe he’ll end the crisis outlined by Q: that the world is run by a cabal of pedophiles who operate a sex-trafficking ring, among other crimes. While the chat room group is relatively small, with only about 900 subscribers, it offers a glimpse into a worrying sect of Trump supporters. Some conspiracists like them have turned to violent language in the wake of Mr. Trump’s electoral loss.
“If the Biden inauguration wants to come in and take your weapons and force vaccination, you have due process to blow them the [expletive] away. Do it.”
Times Opinion has included audio clips from the chat in this story because the group is public. Names and any identifying information have been omitted.



There’s a persistent belief that the online world is somehow not real. Extreme views are too easily dismissed if they’re on the internet. While people might say things online they would never do in person, all it takes is one person for digital conspiracies to take a deadly turn. That should be clear after the Capitol riot, which was largely organized online and resulted in five deaths.
Listening to the conspiracists — unfiltered and in their own voices — makes that digital conversation disturbingly real.
To participants, the channel is mainly a way to share and “fact-check” the news, cobbling theories together from fringe right-wing websites, posts on Facebook, and private channels on the messaging apps Telegram and Signal. They say their main focus is reinstituting paper ballots.
The most commonly used phrase is some version of “I heard,” followed by a theory:


“So I heard when, in 2016, when Hillary was supposed to be president, the military actually stepped in and appointed Trump as the commander in chief.”
“There’s people that are actually sleeping inside that building to watch over the area, I guess. Um, I have no link to confirm this. Just from people that I’ve heard that should know what they’re telling me.”
“But if you look into it and read the post, it’s actual emails from Pence trying to get Trump out before he even won the election.”
“I just read somewhere that Biden just lowered the age of consent to age 8. Has anybody heard anything about that?”
“You know, you laughed about Tupac and Biggie? He was murdered, and I think it was the deep state that murdered him.”

Sometimes the chat is lighthearted, like when supporters swap details about grocery runs or wish one other happy birthday. But the conversation can also turn dark, like when they speak longingly about “brutal” televised executions or simply ask, “Can the people declare war inside the country if they wanted to?”
Key to sustaining their beliefs is the expectation that the other shoe is always about to drop. One prediction, concerning “10 days of darkness,” was perpetually about to come true in the form of media blackouts, social media bans or power outages.
Nearly every day, there were signs that the “10 days of darkness” had begun in some form. Power outages in India and at the Vatican were possible signs. Then blackouts were reported across the world. Then state-of-emergency orders were circulated for various storms, recalling a Q catchphrase, “The storm is coming.”
“It’d be wise to stock up water, canned foods, ammo and cash, gasoline in your vehicles,” one said days after the Washington rally.
The Q delusion requires fitting unexpected events into a bigger narrative. The riot in Washington was one such opportunity. The day before, many in the chat room were worried about antifa attacking their friends. Yet it was also clear they wanted a confrontation.
“I wish they’d storm the Congress and the Senate and pull all them treasonous guys out of there.”
As the rally began, participants uploaded dispatches from the ground. The mood was positive, even emotional. In the chat, they shared their real-time reactions as Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.
“Patriots are in the building. It’s beautiful.”
And when Mr. Biden went on television to demand an end to the siege, one chatter asked, “Does he not realize President Trump called us to siege the place?”
Another remarked, “Honestly, I think the patriots should have been allowed to go in there, grab those S.O.B.s and pull them out of the building and, you know, have an execution right there.”
But by the next morning, members who had called for the siege had changed their tune. Now it was antifa that was responsible for the Capitol raid and any violence that followed.
Over and over again, confusing decisions, unexpected outcomes and a lack of evidence were recast as part of Mr. Trump’s master plan.
“I’m hoping that he was planning on antifa showing up there and doing what they did,” one woman said. “And he has a master plan behind that. I’m hoping.”



They believed Mr. Trump would use his Washington rally to announce mass arrests and release long-awaited evidence supporting Q’s theories. None of that happened.
Instead of coming to grips with that loss, they moved on to another idea: Mr. Trump needed to allow the vote to be certified to spot his enemies. He could use the Insurrection Act at any moment, putting America under martial law and using the military to seize control of the government.
“I am ready to see something go down. I want to know that this is all real, or we’ve just been being yanked around by a bunch of idiots sitting in their bedrooms, throwing all this fake information out there. I mean, I want to believe that Trump is holding all the cards, and that he’s just being deceitful right now so that he can nail everybody.”
They had been through this cycle so many times before, with promises of lawsuits that could overturn the election or a Supreme Court intervention that Mr. Trump had planned for months. None of it came to pass. Still, they had hope.
“It’s very hard to be patient ’cause we — you know, remember, we’re like, ‘Oh, the executive order,’ and ‘We’re waiting for D.N.I. report.’ We’re waiting for this, we’re waiting for that, that passed, and then Jan. 6, and that passed, and then … it’s hard, but we have to stay focused, and I think we’re so close. I mean, there’s just a couple of days left.”
As the inauguration approached, signs were adding up in their favor. Thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to the city, and many of them were deputized to perform arrests — surely a sign that Mr. Trump’s plan for martial law would come true.
Days went by, and nothing. Yet, as the inauguration drew closer, it was still raised as a possibility.


“It’s taking longer than it should be, but possibly he could announce what he’s going to do next. We still have the Insurrection Act.”
“If anything goes down, it’ll be today or Inauguration Day. I don’t think it would be Monday.”
“If it does get signed, if the Insurrection Act gets signed, it’ll be today or tomorrow. Not a day later.”
“The source I follow, I heard, said, Trump can file — or call martial law even up to five minutes before Biden’s inauguration if he has to.”
“I think midnight — there’s going to be a lot of stuff happening.”

One member described her prediction in vivid detail: “His farewell speech is going to be, he declares martial law, and then as he’s doing that, they’re arresting the people, like Biden’s administration and all those corrupt suckers, and that’s why they have all the security around the White House, Capitol Hill area. And as they’re doing that, he’s going to read to us all the evidence, show us everything, and lay it all out right there.“
But when Jan. 20 came, Mr. Trump left the White House, rattled off some accomplishments, said, “Have a good life,” then boarded a jet to Mar-a-Lago. Mr. Biden was inaugurated. Nothing they predicted came true.



When Mr. Biden’s inauguration played out as normal, participants were frustrated. By rejecting mainstream news, they embraced liars who fed them exactly what they wanted to hear.
“We know not to watch CNN. We know not to watch these people. But when we have people that we trust on the right, and we’re pushing that information out — because we don’t have many media sources, so the ones that come out, they need to be pretty damn good. And for them to take advantage of people’s hope? We cannot have that.”
If the Q movement had a slogan, it would be “Do your research.” The conspiracy is designed like a game. Discovering clues that clarify Q’s cryptic missives produces a eureka effect, which offers a hit of dopamine and improves memory retention. It’s the same satisfaction that comes from solving a puzzle or finding the answer to a riddle.
Believers apply the same approach to everyday news: Find information that confirms any existing beliefs, then use it to augment their understanding of the conspiracy. Reject facts or information that counter the existing beliefs. It’s one of the reasons they struggle to recruit their family members, unless they’re persuaded to do research themselves.
I wondered what would happen in the days after Mr. Biden’s inauguration. Rather than re-evaluate their approach in the wake of Q’s failures, many doubled down. The problem wasn’t that the whole worldview was false, just that they had been led astray by inaccurate reports and misinterpretations. Their response was to improve their process. They would develop a list of sources, vet credentials, link to original material, and view unconfirmed information skeptically. They were, in a sense, inventing journalism.
Others made excuses. Theories spread that Q was actually part of a deep state plot to keep Mr. Trump’s supporters complacent. A few members tied Q’s strategy to a C.I.A. psychological operation. And if that was true, their prophets, like Q and Mr. Trump and major personalities in the community, weren’t everything they hoped they would be.
“By us believing that, you know, there’s all these things going on behind the scenes. It’s preventing us from doing anything because we’re just sitting down, waiting and watching for all this to secretly happen. And I don’t think it’s happening,” one said.
“We can’t be digital warriors our whole life. We can’t be keyboard warriors our whole life,” another said, recommending they focus on banking, education and passing real laws instead. He added: “We can’t put all our eggs in one basket like we’re doing and waiting on Trump. Our forefathers never relied on one man. We rely on each other going forward.”
If the current version of the Q conspiracy theory dissolves, what happens to its followers? They already found a community, and their friendships weathered Mr. Biden’s inauguration. If anything, their bonds have been strengthened. The channel was thriving, keeping hope alive for dozens of followers. Right-wing activists were organizing with fervor on Signal and Telegram. A few in the chat discussed plans to meet in person.
“It didn’t play out the way we wanted, but it showed that we can — we’re powerful when we’re together,” one said. “It’s created a whole new era. It’s not done. It’s far from over.”
After the inauguration, Ron Watkins, one of the main pushers of QAnon’s theories, whom some suspect is actually Q, seemed to signal the end of the movement. In a message to followers, he focused on the strength of the community, writing, “As we enter into the next administration please remember all the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years.”
The original version of the conspiracy seems in tatters, but the community is strong. And that will be harder to unravel.
“Trump has changed things forever. It’s a lot of seeds that he planted. And history is going to be very kind to him and the people that fought on the right side of the war.”



What should Q’s followers inspire in us? Anger? Sympathy?
The audio chat offers a clearer picture of these believers than the Facebook pages and Telegram channels where they also gather. The all-caps screeds of the internet give way to gentler moments, like when they talk about their pets or babysitting their grandkids. Many members were struggling in some way — financially or emotionally, with legal troubles or addiction. As Covid-19 swept their states, many got sick, and some family members died. A few members were recently out of prison. Another was living in a sober house.
“I don’t think they understand that we’re not all evil,” one member said about how the left views them. “Like you said, we’re not evil. We’re not bad people.”
As I listened over these three weeks, I saw that they’re drawn to Q and Mr. Trump for many reasons. The political status quo wasn’t working for them. Mr. Trump was an antidote to Washington and was beholden to neither party. And Q offered not just a political orientation but also a way to place themselves in a bigger narrative that explains life’s shortcomings.
Many believers have paid a price for their views. Some were shunned by friends and family. Apps and social networks, like this audio chat room, stepped in, offering a welcoming community with shared beliefs.
“Does anybody else’s family members on here think you’re crazy?” one asked.
“I have family that think that way. I think they’re crazy for not seeing what the heck’s going on,” another replied.
“I’ve stopped talking to every single person that isn’t on board with this,” another said.
“I can’t even express it enough — I’m so thankful for every person in this group.”
In the process, followers have become more isolated, stuck inside an echo chamber from which they may never escape.
Beneath the anger in their voices is often pain or confusion. When the chat dies down to just a few members, they’ll share stories about their struggles with affording health insurance or the shame of going on government assistance. Hearing them talk with one another, I could start understanding the pull of conspiracy communities — how they exploit the vulnerable and create a worldview out of shared enemies. Then you can watch those views harden.
And while none of it excuses participation in a dangerous collective delusion, it takes the complex process of radicalization and gives it a human dimension. What seemed like a preposterous descent into a kind of madness made slightly more sense.
“Not every politician is bad. Not every Democrat is bad. But we’re going to automatically assume that they’re deep state. So, I mean, you have people, a small few, that makes the majority look bad.”
As I spent more time in the group, I understood why the conspiracy has such gravitational pull. And while I didn't lose my way, I was taken aback by the experience. It turned my brain to mush. I was left rattled and deeply concerned. About what would become of this group when I left. And more important, how one can lessen the appeal of a conspiracy that gives so much purpose to people’s lives.
Listening in, I came to realize what extremism researchers and cult experts have long known to be true: You cannot just destroy a community and expect it to disappear when it is load bearing. If we are to deradicalize Q believers in a Biden era, how will we do it? What can we offer them in its place?
One woman had an idea for how to solve some of these problems. They could try hearing from their opponents directly. Maybe they could understand their point of view, learn what motivates them. But then she paused. “I’d love to get into their heads, but it scares the [expletive] out of me,” she said. “So I keep my distance and stay with you patriots.”
Stuart A. Thompson (@stuartathompson) is a writer and editor for Opinion.
 

Alcibiades

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"As I spent more time in the group, I understood why the conspiracy has such gravitational pull. And while I didn't lose my way, I was taken aback by the experience. It turned my brain to mush. I was left rattled and deeply concerned. About what would become of this group when I left. And more important, how one can lessen the appeal of a conspiracy that gives so much purpose to people’s lives."

You might as well be talking about the belief on Twitter/CNN/NYT/MSNBC that Trump is a Russian agent because reasons...

The Russia collusion stuff gave meaning to people's lives for 4 years and few journalists seem to have a problem with the government using the FBI to go after a political opponent simply because they hated Trump that much.

QAnon like many other conspiracies can be dangerous, but no more so than other conspiracies. And the media amplified Q in the first place to the point where more Biden voters knew about it than Trump voters.
 

MastaKiiLA

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"As I spent more time in the group, I understood why the conspiracy has such gravitational pull. And while I didn't lose my way, I was taken aback by the experience. It turned my brain to mush. I was left rattled and deeply concerned. About what would become of this group when I left. And more important, how one can lessen the appeal of a conspiracy that gives so much purpose to people’s lives."

You might as well be talking about the belief on Twitter/CNN/NYT/MSNBC that Trump is a Russian agent because reasons...

The Russia collusion stuff gave meaning to people's lives for 4 years and few journalists seem to have a problem with the government using the FBI to go after a political opponent simply because they hated Trump that much.

QAnon like many other conspiracies can be dangerous, but no more so than other conspiracies. And the media amplified Q in the first place to the point where more Biden voters knew about it than Trump voters.
When you start assuming that everyone engages in lunacy, it diminishes the threat. Sorry, this isn't even remotely close to the Russian investigation. You know, people can wax philosophical about that shit without devolving into apocalyptic fantasies that land them maskless at the Capitol, thinking they're starting a revolution. Qanon is not idle chatter based on a very legitimate investigation that resulted in a number of convictions. Qanon is Pizzagate. If you can't see the clear delineation there, then that's all you need to know about why this brand of lunacy thrives on the right.

The whole "they do it too" argument don't sell. There's one side that's gone off-kilter here. Just compare to other mainstream western political movements, and try to spot the significant outlier.
 

daveonezero

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Q always looked like a psyop. Most likely a disoinfo campaign or a lullaby to make everyone feel like some thing was going to change. Also these people just know something is wrong but do not know what to do about it.

Trump was probably in on it. He gave a bunch of people a nice warm feeling that "the system works" and "their guy will change things" and then he didn't. Pacification through representation.

This is not "violence".
Some conspiracists like them have turned to violent language in the wake of Mr. Trump’s electoral loss.
“If the Biden inauguration wants to come in and take your weapons and force vaccination, you have due process to blow them the [expletive] away. Do it.”
Ignoring or defending yourself from government aggression is not a "call to violence". It is self defense. Conflict has started with a lot less than disarmament and forced injections.

Also it's always a good idea to be stocked up in food water and fuel.
 
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oagboghi2

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When you start assuming that everyone engages in lunacy, it diminishes the threat. Sorry, this isn't even remotely close to the Russian investigation. You know, people can wax philosophical about that shit without devolving into apocalyptic fantasies that land them maskless at the Capitol, thinking they're starting a revolution. Qanon is not idle chatter based on a very legitimate investigation that resulted in a number of convictions. Qanon is Pizzagate. If you can't see the clear delineation there, then that's all you need to know about why this brand of lunacy thrives on the right.

The whole "they do it too" argument don't sell. There's one side that's gone off-kilter here. Just compare to other mainstream western political movements, and try to spot the significant outlier.
Seeing people live in constant fear of QAnon will be interesting to watch

Kenan Thompson Reaction GIF by Saturday Night Live
 
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fart town usa

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When you start assuming that everyone engages in lunacy, it diminishes the threat. Sorry, this isn't even remotely close to the Russian investigation. You know, people can wax philosophical about that shit without devolving into apocalyptic fantasies that land them maskless at the Capitol, thinking they're starting a revolution. Qanon is not idle chatter based on a very legitimate investigation that resulted in a number of convictions. Qanon is Pizzagate. If you can't see the clear delineation there, then that's all you need to know about why this brand of lunacy thrives on the right.

The whole "they do it too" argument don't sell. There's one side that's gone off-kilter here. Just compare to other mainstream western political movements, and try to spot the significant outlier.
For having the name of one of Wu Tang's most underrated members, you sure do post some milquetoast nonsense when it comes to political discussions. Find a different avenue for information because yours isn't doing you any favors. Might I suggest C-Span.
 
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SF Kosmo

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It's funny because Q is gone, and the 8kun hustlers who had been manning the account have washed their hands of it, like the whole thing has more or less been exposed as a larp to boost traffic to a dumb 4chan spinoff.

And yet even without the claims of insider knowledge or connections, they'll all just literally make shit up at each other. Like they just make these declarative posts about what's going to happen, like they've all crowned themselves their own personal Q. They're no longer interpreting breadcrumbs or anything, it's fucking unhinged.
 

Rentahamster

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Q always looked like a psyop.
I think the more likely explanation is that it's just another troll that started as a gag but eventually got out of hand due to the amount of paranoid weirdos that latched onto it and worked itself into a mark.

When something can be explained by either intentional malice or general stupidity, the more likely explanation is usually going to be "stupidity", especially on the interwebs.
 

BadBurger

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As I listened over these three weeks, I saw that they’re drawn to Q and Mr. Trump for many reasons. The political status quo wasn’t working for them. Mr. Trump was an antidote to Washington and was beholden to neither party. And Q offered not just a political orientation but also a way to place themselves in a bigger narrative that explains life’s shortcomings.

Two years ago psychologists in several places were pointing out why people fall victim to illogical conspiracy theories like QAnon. The quoted was one of the main reasons, as was a deep distrust of intellectual and factual authorities.
 
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daveonezero

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I think the more likely explanation is that it's just another troll that started as a gag but eventually got out of hand due to the amount of paranoid weirdos that latched onto it and worked itself into a mark.

When something can be explained by either intentional malice or general stupidity, the more likely explanation is usually going to be "stupidity", especially on the interwebs.
Yes but a lot of the time if it can benefit those in power they will use it.

Hegelian Dialectic.

The establishment has co copted all modern "movements"

Occupy
Tea party
Anonymous
BLM
Antifa.

I'm sure there are others. It comes out later they are all funded by the establishment.
 
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Burnttips

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All that and it's still not as crazy as Trump being a puppet of Russia. I mean 45% of the nation fell for that and a lot still believe. So it's like 1 million to 65 million ratio of nuts on the right than on the left.
 
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SF Kosmo

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All that and it's still not as crazy as Trump being a puppet of Russia. I mean 45% of the nation fell for that and a lot still believe. So it's like 1 million to 65 million ratio of nuts on the right than on the left.
I don't think Trump is a Russian plant, but you gotta admit he fucking acts like one. Not only has he failed to check Russia at every juncture, but he's totally eroded NATO, brought our alliances with Ukraine into question, and deeply diminished American influence and respect on the world stage.

Now, just because a girl puts out doesn't make her a whore, but man did Trump ever put out for Putin.
 
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desertdroog

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I don't think Trump is a Russian plant, but you gotta admit he fucking acts like one. Not only has he failed to check Russia at every juncture, but he's totally eroded NATO, brought our alliances with Ukraine into question, and deeply diminished American influence and respect on the world stage.

Now, just because a girl puts out doesn't make her a whore, but man did Trump ever put out for Putin.
NATO erroded NATO. President Obama started to call them out at the end of his Administration, President Trump just put their dicks to the fire. Everything else you wrote comes off as a women wearing a skimpy dress must be a whore since someone took advantage of her due to wearing a skimpy dress.

Which means your fever dream of Trump being Putin's inadvertent puppet is bull-shit. The influence Putin has ascended into is a failure of NATO's obligations and stepping on their own dicks during the Crimea incursion a couple years ago.
 

Horns

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I think the more likely explanation is that it's just another troll that started as a gag but eventually got out of hand due to the amount of paranoid weirdos that latched onto it and worked itself into a mark.

When something can be explained by either intentional malice or general stupidity, the more likely explanation is usually going to be "stupidity", especially on the interwebs.

Qanon didn't spend thousands if not tens of thousands of hours posting content and referencing prior posts and information. A lot of effort and information was poured into Qanon. A lot more than a single person could do. It likely was a coordinated effort which suggests stupidity doesn't explain things.

My guess is we will eventually learn it was funded by a party who it would benefit. And that will likely lead back to a Trump ally or foreign organization.
 

Sejan

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I don't think Trump is a Russian plant, but you gotta admit he fucking acts like one. Not only has he failed to check Russia at every juncture, but he's totally eroded NATO, brought our alliances with Ukraine into question, and deeply diminished American influence and respect on the world stage.

Now, just because a girl puts out doesn't make her a whore, but man did Trump ever put out for Putin.
Our alliance with Ukraine was thrown out the window when Obama let Russia waltz into Crimea without any real repercussions. If anyone in the past 30 years should be attacked as a puppet of Russia it should be Obama for that overwhelming surrender. Nothing Trump did with Russia is anywhere near Obama’s handling of that.
 

SF Kosmo

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Our alliance with Ukraine was thrown out the window when Obama let Russia waltz into Crimea without any real repercussions. If anyone in the past 30 years should be attacked as a puppet of Russia it should be Obama for that overwhelming surrender. Nothing Trump did with Russia is anywhere near Obama’s handling of that.
Wasn't Trump personally responsible for removing defense of crimea from the GOP platform in 2016?
 

Rentahamster

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Qanon didn't spend thousands if not tens of thousands of hours posting content and referencing prior posts and information. A lot of effort and information was poured into Qanon. A lot more than a single person could do. It likely was a coordinated effort which suggests stupidity doesn't explain things.
You underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.
 
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Sejan

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Wasn't Trump personally responsible for removing defense of crimea from the GOP platform in 2016?
To be honest, I don’t know, but by 2016 it was two years too late to do anything in regards to Crimea at all. Obama had already rolled over and ceded it to them. There was nothing that Trump could have done at that point.
 

ManofOne

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But but but

I like big butts and I can not lie
You other brothers can't deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung, want to pull up tough
'Cause you notice that butt was stuffed
Deep in the jeans she's wearing
I'm hooked and I can't stop staring
Oh baby, I want to get wit'cha
And take your picture
My homeboys tried to warn me
But with that butt you got makes (me so horny)
 

Batiman

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And herein lies the problem.
Well of course. That’s like asking why isn’t Fox News reporting on something like we see here. Nothing new. It’s always been like that and only seems to be getting worse. Media bias on either side should be nonexistent, but instead they create separation between the country. It seems one sided, because one side is winning.
 

Burnttips

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I don't think Trump is a Russian plant, but you gotta admit he fucking acts like one. Not only has he failed to check Russia at every juncture, but he's totally eroded NATO, brought our alliances with Ukraine into question, and deeply diminished American influence and respect on the world stage.

Now, just because a girl puts out doesn't make her a whore, but man did Trump ever put out for Putin.


They armed Ukraine. They armed the Poles. They extended NATO operations and exercises in ways that even the Obama administration had not done. They maintained the sanctions. Biden's own people said he would take the same approach. You added no facts but what lies you've been fed. He wanted NATO to pay up and do it's part. If you think that's wrong you're a pussy. He also stood against Germany's oil pipeline deal.
 

Mass Shift

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Our alliance with Ukraine was thrown out the window when Obama let Russia waltz into Crimea without any real repercussions. If anyone in the past 30 years should be attacked as a puppet of Russia it should be Obama for that overwhelming surrender. Nothing Trump did with Russia is anywhere near Obama’s handling of that.
You wanted to go to war over Crimea? Because that honestly was the only repercussion that would have reversed the move by Putin.

With its (at the time) 62% Russian population? As illegal as the act was, we would not have been welcomed as liberators. And even the most blood thirsty warhawks in Washington wanted no part of it and arming the Ukrainians wouldn't have changed it either.

And lets not kid ourselves. We're not talking about shootouts with lightly armed insurgent fighters like the kind we've faced down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our forces would have been dealing with heavily armed divisions that could very easily mobilize right over the border. Divisions with T-80 tanks, A-15 Springer missiles and mobile anti-aircraft platforms. Just getting U.S. forces assembled for a long hard siege would be a logistic nightmare. Could the Ukrainians have held out for that long?

And this is the best case scenario, no one wanted to calculate a set of circumstances where Putin felt like he was losing and decided to go from conventional to nuclear weapons.

One thing was certain, Putin was willing to go to war to keep Crimea, we weren't willing to go to war to get it back.
 
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Cleared_Hot

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Holy shit this guy gets paid to hang out on forums for three fucking weeks? A forum that only the far right enjoys? Please tell me they hired somebody to do an antifa forum too. Maybe he could actually like help prevent all the violence.
 

Sejan

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Sep 28, 2018
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You wanted to go to war over Crimea? Because that honestly was the only repercussion that would have reversed the move by Putin.

With its (at the time) 62% Russian population? As illegal as the act was, we would not have been welcomed as liberators. And even the most blood thirsty warhawks in Washington wanted no part of it and arming the Ukrainians wouldn't have changed it either.

And lets not kid ourselves. We're not talking about shootouts with lightly armed insurgent fighters like the kind we've faced down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our forces would have been dealing with heavily armed divisions that could very easily mobilize right over the border. Divisions with T-80 tanks, A-15 Springer missiles and mobile anti-aircraft platforms. Just getting U.S. forces assembled for a long hard siege would be a logistic nightmare. Could the Ukrainians have held out for that long?

And this is the best case scenario, no one wanted to calculate a set of circumstances where Putin felt like he was losing and decided to go from conventional to nuclear weapons.

One thing was certain, Putin was willing to go to war to keep Crimea, we weren't willing to go to war to get it back.

Appeasement only ever emboldens a dictator to take more drastic actions. Obama and the west’s record on Russia was so weak by 2014 that they knew they wouldn’t face any real resistance in attacking and taking territory from Ukraine by force. Russia simply realized that the US was unwilling and unable to honor its military alliance and figured an invasion was superior to more legitimate ways of solving their perceived problem. They were proven right further emboldening Putin and his regime.

Anyone claiming that Trump was somehow worse with Russia than Obama or the rest of the world at that time for that matter clearly has failed to look past preconceived notions. Obama was horrible when it came to Russia. He was far worse than Trump in any measurable way that I can imagine.

Was military intervention in Crimea in 2014 the right answer? Maybe or maybe not. The best answer would have been standing up to Russia far earlier to ensure that they wouldn’t have taken these sorts of actions in the first place. The US problems with Russia and Putin came far earlier than Trump ever stepped foot into the political arena.

It’s simply untrue to say he was somehow worse on Russia than his predecessors.
 

Bragr

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Jun 24, 2020
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Obviously, if you go on an extreme far-right wackjob forum you will find wackjob opinions. He's not wrong, it's a sick crazy place, but what's missing here is the context. These are common attitudes you find everyone online these days, on both the right and the left.

During BLM you had half the gaming press and twitter in general saying stuff like "burn the buildings, fuck the ones opposing this, we need to burn the system and everyone in it". There were times when cops would get executed on the street and people would cheer "fuck yeah they deserve this shit" on facebook and twitter and those messages were not getting removed either.

It's not only the far-right wackiness that's the problem, but crazy fucking people in general that get mindfucked by the internet and feel like the only way to save their opinions is to attack whoever has opposite ones. Even most politicians nowadays sit on twitter talking shit about the other side, rather than enforcing and proclaiming their own views and virtue it's all about dragging everyone else down.
 
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Torrent of Pork

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So some asshole spent three weeks hanging out in an Alphabet Soup honeypot, and now wants to call himself a journalist.

The participation trophy generation is now entering the workforce, God help us all.
 
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GeorgPrime

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This is pretty interesting if you still have any of your four free NYT's reads left. The audio soundbites are great.

THREE WEEKS​

INSIDE A​

PRO-TRUMP QANON CHAT ROOM​

By Stuart A. ThompsonMr. Thompson is a writer and editor for Opinion.Jan. 26, 2021

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As President Biden’s inauguration ticked closer, some of Donald Trump’s supporters were feeling gleeful. Mr. Trump was on the cusp of declaring martial law, they believed. Military tribunals would follow, then televised executions, then Democrats and other deep state operatives would finally be brought to justice.
These were honestly held beliefs. Dozens of Trump supporters spoke regularly over the past three weeks on a public audio chat room app, where they uploaded short recordings instead of typing. In these candid digital confessionals, participants would crack jokes, share hopes and make predictions.
“Look at the last four years. They haven’t listened to a thing we’ve said. Um … there’s going to have to be some serious anarchy that goes on. Otherwise, nothing is going to change.”
I spent the past three weeks listening to the channel — from before the Jan. 6 Washington protest to after Mr. Biden’s inauguration. It became an obsession, something I’d check first thing every morning and listen to as I fell asleep at night. Participants tend to revere Mr. Trump and believe he’ll end the crisis outlined by Q: that the world is run by a cabal of pedophiles who operate a sex-trafficking ring, among other crimes. While the chat room group is relatively small, with only about 900 subscribers, it offers a glimpse into a worrying sect of Trump supporters. Some conspiracists like them have turned to violent language in the wake of Mr. Trump’s electoral loss.
“If the Biden inauguration wants to come in and take your weapons and force vaccination, you have due process to blow them the [expletive] away. Do it.”
Times Opinion has included audio clips from the chat in this story because the group is public. Names and any identifying information have been omitted.



There’s a persistent belief that the online world is somehow not real. Extreme views are too easily dismissed if they’re on the internet. While people might say things online they would never do in person, all it takes is one person for digital conspiracies to take a deadly turn. That should be clear after the Capitol riot, which was largely organized online and resulted in five deaths.
Listening to the conspiracists — unfiltered and in their own voices — makes that digital conversation disturbingly real.
To participants, the channel is mainly a way to share and “fact-check” the news, cobbling theories together from fringe right-wing websites, posts on Facebook, and private channels on the messaging apps Telegram and Signal. They say their main focus is reinstituting paper ballots.
The most commonly used phrase is some version of “I heard,” followed by a theory:


“So I heard when, in 2016, when Hillary was supposed to be president, the military actually stepped in and appointed Trump as the commander in chief.”
“There’s people that are actually sleeping inside that building to watch over the area, I guess. Um, I have no link to confirm this. Just from people that I’ve heard that should know what they’re telling me.”
“But if you look into it and read the post, it’s actual emails from Pence trying to get Trump out before he even won the election.”
“I just read somewhere that Biden just lowered the age of consent to age 8. Has anybody heard anything about that?”
“You know, you laughed about Tupac and Biggie? He was murdered, and I think it was the deep state that murdered him.”

Sometimes the chat is lighthearted, like when supporters swap details about grocery runs or wish one other happy birthday. But the conversation can also turn dark, like when they speak longingly about “brutal” televised executions or simply ask, “Can the people declare war inside the country if they wanted to?”
Key to sustaining their beliefs is the expectation that the other shoe is always about to drop. One prediction, concerning “10 days of darkness,” was perpetually about to come true in the form of media blackouts, social media bans or power outages.
Nearly every day, there were signs that the “10 days of darkness” had begun in some form. Power outages in India and at the Vatican were possible signs. Then blackouts were reported across the world. Then state-of-emergency orders were circulated for various storms, recalling a Q catchphrase, “The storm is coming.”
“It’d be wise to stock up water, canned foods, ammo and cash, gasoline in your vehicles,” one said days after the Washington rally.
The Q delusion requires fitting unexpected events into a bigger narrative. The riot in Washington was one such opportunity. The day before, many in the chat room were worried about antifa attacking their friends. Yet it was also clear they wanted a confrontation.
“I wish they’d storm the Congress and the Senate and pull all them treasonous guys out of there.”
As the rally began, participants uploaded dispatches from the ground. The mood was positive, even emotional. In the chat, they shared their real-time reactions as Mr. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.
“Patriots are in the building. It’s beautiful.”
And when Mr. Biden went on television to demand an end to the siege, one chatter asked, “Does he not realize President Trump called us to siege the place?”
Another remarked, “Honestly, I think the patriots should have been allowed to go in there, grab those S.O.B.s and pull them out of the building and, you know, have an execution right there.”
But by the next morning, members who had called for the siege had changed their tune. Now it was antifa that was responsible for the Capitol raid and any violence that followed.
Over and over again, confusing decisions, unexpected outcomes and a lack of evidence were recast as part of Mr. Trump’s master plan.
“I’m hoping that he was planning on antifa showing up there and doing what they did,” one woman said. “And he has a master plan behind that. I’m hoping.”



They believed Mr. Trump would use his Washington rally to announce mass arrests and release long-awaited evidence supporting Q’s theories. None of that happened.
Instead of coming to grips with that loss, they moved on to another idea: Mr. Trump needed to allow the vote to be certified to spot his enemies. He could use the Insurrection Act at any moment, putting America under martial law and using the military to seize control of the government.
“I am ready to see something go down. I want to know that this is all real, or we’ve just been being yanked around by a bunch of idiots sitting in their bedrooms, throwing all this fake information out there. I mean, I want to believe that Trump is holding all the cards, and that he’s just being deceitful right now so that he can nail everybody.”
They had been through this cycle so many times before, with promises of lawsuits that could overturn the election or a Supreme Court intervention that Mr. Trump had planned for months. None of it came to pass. Still, they had hope.
“It’s very hard to be patient ’cause we — you know, remember, we’re like, ‘Oh, the executive order,’ and ‘We’re waiting for D.N.I. report.’ We’re waiting for this, we’re waiting for that, that passed, and then Jan. 6, and that passed, and then … it’s hard, but we have to stay focused, and I think we’re so close. I mean, there’s just a couple of days left.”
As the inauguration approached, signs were adding up in their favor. Thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to the city, and many of them were deputized to perform arrests — surely a sign that Mr. Trump’s plan for martial law would come true.
Days went by, and nothing. Yet, as the inauguration drew closer, it was still raised as a possibility.


“It’s taking longer than it should be, but possibly he could announce what he’s going to do next. We still have the Insurrection Act.”
“If anything goes down, it’ll be today or Inauguration Day. I don’t think it would be Monday.”
“If it does get signed, if the Insurrection Act gets signed, it’ll be today or tomorrow. Not a day later.”
“The source I follow, I heard, said, Trump can file — or call martial law even up to five minutes before Biden’s inauguration if he has to.”
“I think midnight — there’s going to be a lot of stuff happening.”

One member described her prediction in vivid detail: “His farewell speech is going to be, he declares martial law, and then as he’s doing that, they’re arresting the people, like Biden’s administration and all those corrupt suckers, and that’s why they have all the security around the White House, Capitol Hill area. And as they’re doing that, he’s going to read to us all the evidence, show us everything, and lay it all out right there.“
But when Jan. 20 came, Mr. Trump left the White House, rattled off some accomplishments, said, “Have a good life,” then boarded a jet to Mar-a-Lago. Mr. Biden was inaugurated. Nothing they predicted came true.



When Mr. Biden’s inauguration played out as normal, participants were frustrated. By rejecting mainstream news, they embraced liars who fed them exactly what they wanted to hear.
“We know not to watch CNN. We know not to watch these people. But when we have people that we trust on the right, and we’re pushing that information out — because we don’t have many media sources, so the ones that come out, they need to be pretty damn good. And for them to take advantage of people’s hope? We cannot have that.”
If the Q movement had a slogan, it would be “Do your research.” The conspiracy is designed like a game. Discovering clues that clarify Q’s cryptic missives produces a eureka effect, which offers a hit of dopamine and improves memory retention. It’s the same satisfaction that comes from solving a puzzle or finding the answer to a riddle.
Believers apply the same approach to everyday news: Find information that confirms any existing beliefs, then use it to augment their understanding of the conspiracy. Reject facts or information that counter the existing beliefs. It’s one of the reasons they struggle to recruit their family members, unless they’re persuaded to do research themselves.
I wondered what would happen in the days after Mr. Biden’s inauguration. Rather than re-evaluate their approach in the wake of Q’s failures, many doubled down. The problem wasn’t that the whole worldview was false, just that they had been led astray by inaccurate reports and misinterpretations. Their response was to improve their process. They would develop a list of sources, vet credentials, link to original material, and view unconfirmed information skeptically. They were, in a sense, inventing journalism.
Others made excuses. Theories spread that Q was actually part of a deep state plot to keep Mr. Trump’s supporters complacent. A few members tied Q’s strategy to a C.I.A. psychological operation. And if that was true, their prophets, like Q and Mr. Trump and major personalities in the community, weren’t everything they hoped they would be.
“By us believing that, you know, there’s all these things going on behind the scenes. It’s preventing us from doing anything because we’re just sitting down, waiting and watching for all this to secretly happen. And I don’t think it’s happening,” one said.
“We can’t be digital warriors our whole life. We can’t be keyboard warriors our whole life,” another said, recommending they focus on banking, education and passing real laws instead. He added: “We can’t put all our eggs in one basket like we’re doing and waiting on Trump. Our forefathers never relied on one man. We rely on each other going forward.”
If the current version of the Q conspiracy theory dissolves, what happens to its followers? They already found a community, and their friendships weathered Mr. Biden’s inauguration. If anything, their bonds have been strengthened. The channel was thriving, keeping hope alive for dozens of followers. Right-wing activists were organizing with fervor on Signal and Telegram. A few in the chat discussed plans to meet in person.
“It didn’t play out the way we wanted, but it showed that we can — we’re powerful when we’re together,” one said. “It’s created a whole new era. It’s not done. It’s far from over.”
After the inauguration, Ron Watkins, one of the main pushers of QAnon’s theories, whom some suspect is actually Q, seemed to signal the end of the movement. In a message to followers, he focused on the strength of the community, writing, “As we enter into the next administration please remember all the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years.”
The original version of the conspiracy seems in tatters, but the community is strong. And that will be harder to unravel.
“Trump has changed things forever. It’s a lot of seeds that he planted. And history is going to be very kind to him and the people that fought on the right side of the war.”



What should Q’s followers inspire in us? Anger? Sympathy?
The audio chat offers a clearer picture of these believers than the Facebook pages and Telegram channels where they also gather. The all-caps screeds of the internet give way to gentler moments, like when they talk about their pets or babysitting their grandkids. Many members were struggling in some way — financially or emotionally, with legal troubles or addiction. As Covid-19 swept their states, many got sick, and some family members died. A few members were recently out of prison. Another was living in a sober house.
“I don’t think they understand that we’re not all evil,” one member said about how the left views them. “Like you said, we’re not evil. We’re not bad people.”
As I listened over these three weeks, I saw that they’re drawn to Q and Mr. Trump for many reasons. The political status quo wasn’t working for them. Mr. Trump was an antidote to Washington and was beholden to neither party. And Q offered not just a political orientation but also a way to place themselves in a bigger narrative that explains life’s shortcomings.
Many believers have paid a price for their views. Some were shunned by friends and family. Apps and social networks, like this audio chat room, stepped in, offering a welcoming community with shared beliefs.
“Does anybody else’s family members on here think you’re crazy?” one asked.
“I have family that think that way. I think they’re crazy for not seeing what the heck’s going on,” another replied.
“I’ve stopped talking to every single person that isn’t on board with this,” another said.
“I can’t even express it enough — I’m so thankful for every person in this group.”
In the process, followers have become more isolated, stuck inside an echo chamber from which they may never escape.
Beneath the anger in their voices is often pain or confusion. When the chat dies down to just a few members, they’ll share stories about their struggles with affording health insurance or the shame of going on government assistance. Hearing them talk with one another, I could start understanding the pull of conspiracy communities — how they exploit the vulnerable and create a worldview out of shared enemies. Then you can watch those views harden.
And while none of it excuses participation in a dangerous collective delusion, it takes the complex process of radicalization and gives it a human dimension. What seemed like a preposterous descent into a kind of madness made slightly more sense.
“Not every politician is bad. Not every Democrat is bad. But we’re going to automatically assume that they’re deep state. So, I mean, you have people, a small few, that makes the majority look bad.”
As I spent more time in the group, I understood why the conspiracy has such gravitational pull. And while I didn't lose my way, I was taken aback by the experience. It turned my brain to mush. I was left rattled and deeply concerned. About what would become of this group when I left. And more important, how one can lessen the appeal of a conspiracy that gives so much purpose to people’s lives.
Listening in, I came to realize what extremism researchers and cult experts have long known to be true: You cannot just destroy a community and expect it to disappear when it is load bearing. If we are to deradicalize Q believers in a Biden era, how will we do it? What can we offer them in its place?
One woman had an idea for how to solve some of these problems. They could try hearing from their opponents directly. Maybe they could understand their point of view, learn what motivates them. But then she paused. “I’d love to get into their heads, but it scares the [expletive] out of me,” she said. “So I keep my distance and stay with you patriots.”
Stuart A. Thompson (@stuartathompson) is a writer and editor for Opinion.

Ok. Now waiting for Part 2:

"Three Weeks Inside a Pro Biden Resetera Forum"

Then we just need to compare which one affected our brain more.
 
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