As the bizarre QAnon group emerges, Trump rallies go from nasty to dangerous

By | August 1, 2018

Margaret Sullivan writes:

Hostility toward the media at Donald Trump’s rallies is nothing new. It infected the presidential campaign and has marred every raucous gathering of supporters since the election.

But on Tuesday night in Tampa, the extreme aggression dropped the basement floor another level.

This was a new low. And a scary one at that.

“I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in someone getting hurt,” CNN’s much-maligned reporter Jim Acosta noted, as he posted video of the scene.

It showed a sea of worked-up Trump supporters screaming curses at him and aggressively gesturing with their middle fingers.

The New York Times’s Katie Rogers agreed, calling it “as hostile as I’ve seen people.”

Making matters worse was a dark novelty: The emergence at the rally of a cultish group called QAnon. These are the deranged devotees of a supposed government agent who they believe is waging war against the “deep state” that threatens the Trump presidency.

Believers were front and center at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall, as The Washington Post reported.

“As the president spoke, a sign rose from the audience. ‘We are Q,’ it read. Another poster displayed text arranged in a ‘Q’ pattern: ‘Where we go one we go all.’ ”

The group, born on Internet message boards such as Reddit and 8Chan, is a close cousin to the Pizzagate conspiracy theory that led a gunman to open fire in a D.C. restaurant last year. The Huffington Post’s Andy Campbell described it as a mishmash: “It’s every conspiracy, all at once, an orchestra tune-up of theories.”

And although the group has staged public events in recent months, Tuesday night’s Trump rally was its real coming-out party.

What’s particularly troubling about QAnon’s embrace of Trump rallies is its love for armed conflict and quasi-military associations: This crowd likes guns. [Continue reading…]

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