A new conspiracy theory called “The Storm” has taken the grimiest parts of the internet by, well, storm. Like Pizzagate, the Storm conspiracy features secret cabals, a child sex-trafficking ring led (in part) by the satanic Democratic Party, and of course, countless logical leaps and paranoid assumptions that fail to hold up under the slightest fact-based scrutiny. However, unlike Pizzagate, the Storm isn’t focused on a single block of shops in D.C., or John Podesta’s emails. It’s much, much bigger than that.
As most terrible things do, this story begins with a post on /pol/, a sub-board of the more-or-less-anonymous, anything-goes website 4chan. Over the last few years, /pol/ — which technically stands for “politically incorrect” — has slowly but surely become a top contender for the ever-coveted title of the most upsetting community online. It’s the sort of place where neo-Nazis and people who believe women shouldn’t have basic human rights used to meet before we started verifying them on Twitter and electing them to public office. And as of late, it’s expanded its ranks to include fringe members of all shapes and sizes.
On October 28, someone calling themselves Q began posting a series of cryptic messages in a /pol/ thread titled “Calm Before the Storm” (assumedly in reference to that creepy Trump quote from early October). Q claimed to be a high-level government insider with Q clearance (hence the name) tasked with posting intel drops — which he, for some reason, called “crumbs” — straight to 4chan in order to covertly inform the public about POTUS’s master plan to stage a countercoup against members of the deep state. It was, in short, absolutely insane. However, thanks to some rather forced coincidences — like Q kind of, sort of guessing that Trump would tweet the word “small” on Small Business Saturday, and this one time the internet decided that Q was “totally on Air Force One” because he posted a blurry picture of some islands while Trump was on his trip to Asia — and a whole heck of a lot of wishful thinking, people believed he was the real deal.
So he kept talking.
According to Q, Trump was never really involved with Russia, and isn’t actually under investigation by Mueller & Co. On the contrary, Q insists that it’s actually Clinton and Obama who were corrupted by Putin (and are now actually under investigation by Mueller) because they’re obviously just evil, money-hungry globalists who’ll do anything for the highest bidder. (Oh, yeah, and they’re also apparently into raping and killing children, though the crowd is split over whether this is because they’re satanists or just part of some weird blackmail scheme involving the CIA.) Q also claims that Trump, the genius that he is, figured all of this out way back when he was just a measly presidential candidate, and has been pretending to love Putin and/or be involved with Russia ever since as a way to force a third party to investigate these horrors — without drawing the attention of those evil Dems-who-must-not-be-named, of course — because he’s just that selfless of a leader.
In this fantasy world, all of the far right’s wildest dreams come true: Q promises that Clinton, Obama, Podesta, Abedin, and even McCain are all either arrested and wearing secret police-issued ankle monitors, or just about to be indicted; that the Steele dossier is a total fabrication personally paid for by Clinton and Obama; and that the Las Vegas massacre was most definitely an inside job connected to the Saudi-Clinton cabal.
They believe all of this will be coming to a head any day now. That “The Storm” — of arrests, political turmoil, and Republican vindication — is coming. Though there have been some, uh, miscalculations as for exactly when.
For example, take this “crumb” left by Q on November 1:
Q Clearance Patriot
My fellow Americans, over the course of the next several days you will undoubtedly realize that we are taking back our great country (the land of the free) from the evil tyrants that wish to do us harm and destroy the last remaining refuge of shining light. On POTUS’ order, we have initiated certain fail-safes that shall safeguard the public from the primary fallout which is slated to occur 11.3 upon the arrest announcement of Mr. Podesta (actionable 11.4). Confirmation (to the public) of what is occurring will then be revealed and will not be openly accepted. Public riots are being organized in serious numbers in an effort to prevent the arrest and capture of more senior public officials. On POTUS’ order, a state of temporary military control will be actioned and special ops carried out. False leaks have been made to retain several within the confines of the United States to prevent extradition and special operator necessity. Rest assured, the safety and well-being of every man, woman, and child of this country is being exhausted in full. However, the atmosphere within the country will unfortunately be divided as so many have fallen for the corrupt and evil narrative that has long been broadcast. We will be initiating the Emergency Broadcast System (EMS) during this time in an effort to provide a direct message (avoiding the fake news) to all citizens. Organizations and/or people that wish to do us harm during this time will be met with swift fury – certain laws have been pre-lifted to provide our great military the necessary authority to handle and conduct these operations (at home and abroad).
POTUS will be well insulated/protected on AF1 and abroad (specific locations classified) while these operations are conducted due to the nature of the entrenchment. It is time to take back our country and make America great again. Let us salute and pray for the brave men and women in uniform who will undertake this assignment to bring forth peace, unity, and return power to the people.
It is our hope that this message reaches enough people to make a meaningful impact. We cannot yet telegraph this message through normal methods for reasons I’m sure everyone here can understand. Follow the questions from the previous thread(s) and remain calm, the primary targets are within DC and remain at the top (on both sides). The spill over in the streets will be quickly shut down. Look for more false flags — stay alert, be vigilant, and above all, please pray.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Love is patient, love is kind.”
God bless my fellow Americans.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but November has come and gone without the slightest hint of a Q-style military-backed Armageddon. Yet, this pretty glaring mistake doesn’t seem to have weakened anyone’s faith in Q. If anything, it’s brought more followers into the fold.
Over the last month and a half, the Storm has spread from the depths of 4chan and 8chan to Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter, where it’s found hundreds of thousands of devout followers. Some of the most popular explainer videos boast nearly 200,000 views, and the QAnon hashtag has gotten so popular, it’s honestly difficult to track. (I signed up for one of those freebie “Track Your Hashtag Now!” services and #QAnon hit the 2,000-post limit within four hours.) Some poor soul even took the time to write a 117-page book charting Q’s rise to power, which I’m guessing has been seen at least as many times as this very aggressive Imgur guide, which was at 137,000 views as of Sunday night.
It’s been a little over a year since Edgar Welch, military-style assault rifle in hand, walked into a D.C. pizza parlor, convinced it was part of a child sex-trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton, and the internet hasn’t gotten better. If anything, it’s worse.
Sure, in the wake of Pizzagate’s brief encounter with reality, a lot of changes were made: Reddit shut down the conspiracy’s designated sub, Twitter suspended some of the movement’s most vocal supporters, and the whole thing was debunked time and time again by the press. But it’s more evident now than ever that this was merely a Band-Aid, not a cure. And now, here we are a year later with the same thing. Sure, it’s a bit bigger and a whole lot less focused, but at its core, it’s the same. What is there even left to try? We know that stopping the conversation doesn’t work. Neither do the facts. How can we even begin to argue with hundreds of thousands of people who choose to believe that a top government agent is speaking to them through 4chan, that Trump has been playing a game of 4-D mind chess this whole time, and that the Las Vegas massacre was an inside job? Is the next Edgar Welch already out there, scrolling through the Calm Before the Storm thread, and if so, is it even possible to stop him?