Las Vegas didn’t see the end of QAnon and his fervor for conspiracy theories


Jim Marchant speaks on November 3, 2020, during a Republican Election Eve party in Las Vegas. Marchant, who is now running for Nevada’s secretary of state, spoke this weekend at the Patriot Double Down event at the Ahern Hotel.

At a four-day convention in Las Vegas attended by far-right conspiracy theorists, speakers spoke passionately about premises such as COVID-19 introduced by Democrats to ensure Donald Trump is not not re-elected.

And they indicated that the “truth” would come out soon, and that this information would lead to the arrests of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The group of QAnon sympathizers and far-right figureheads also promoted false claims about voting security by claiming that the 2020 election was rigged and spoke out against the COVID vaccine warrants.

It is not known how many people attended the Ahern Hotel near the Strip, although a media report put the number at a few hundred. The Las Vegas Sun requested credentials to cover the Patriot Double Down, but heard nothing. Instead, we purchased a live streaming option on Monday for $ 17.76 to watch the event.

The stories circulated ranged from false to criminal.

Take motivational speaker Brett Bohl, also known as Ohio Brett, who announced plans to return to Capitol Hill on January 6, the QAnon membership celebration day, he said. Federal prosecutors have charged more than 600 people in more than 40 states for participating in the riot, where hardline Trump supporters tried to interfere with the certification of Biden’s presidential victory.

“It’s our day,” Bohl said at the convention. “And we are not going to let the evil take us.”

Some members of the Q movement, or # wwg1wga movement, which means “where we go one, we all go”, believe that the forces of evil are conspiring to hurt good people, especially children. They define themselves as patriots, courageous soldiers who wage a secret war against the “deep state” – a secret Illuminati who controls national politics.

Convention host Andre Popa, wearing an unbuttoned white shirt in a V-neck and white pants with an American flag printed on the right leg, asked the audience to sing “USA” and “Come on. -y, Brandon, ”a phrase that stems from a racing car driver, but that’s now a euphemism for“ F — Joe Biden, ”according to

Blogger Alan Fountain, whose speech apparently focused on “Pedogate,” detailed his traumatic experience as a child victim of abuse. He described how knowledge was planted in his life to spy on him and how he was secretly saved by a White Hat Special Forces Operation, with a State Department agent prompting him to follow the “Q Drops” – clues from an anonymous poster on the internet that goes by Q and claims to have high level security access and knowledge of the inner workings of what’s called the deep state.

While it might be easier to ignore this movement filled with wacky conspiracy theories, researchers warn not to underestimate the group.

“We really have to take their word for it when they tell us what they believe,” UNLV Ph.D. candidate Nicholas MacMurray said, pointing to the events of January 6 as the real result the group helped bring about. “It’s their understanding of reality. Putting them down and minimizing their ideas, I think that’s to the detriment of future events. Isolation is dangerous that way.

In 2016, a man fired a rifle into Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, which was targeted as the Child Trafficking Nest, because he claimed to be “investigating the plot himself”. online baseless, according to NPR.

Members of the QAnon group also have power and influence, whether in their positions in government or as media producers with many followers. For example, conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins, who attended the event and has more than 430,000 subscribers on his Telegram account, throws his hat in an Arizona congressional race.

Arizona State Representatives Wendy Rogers, Mark Finchem and Sonny Borrelli, as well as Nevada candidate for Secretary of State Jim Marchant spoke at the convention, calling for “integrity. electoral ”. And while some of them may claim not to follow or know about Q and the QAnon movement, they continue to promote some of the same baseless theories.

MacMurray co-wrote an article on QAnon that focused on entry into the movement, belief structure, and the role technology plays in the group. He found that membership in groups like QAnon is partly rooted in mistrust of social institutions like the media, government, religion and science, MacMurray said.

“If you feel like these institutions are working against you,” he said, “it’s an easier next step to believe in the conspiracy of elites that are holding you back and doing bad things too, like hurting children. . “

You might stumble upon something on the internet, like a podcast or a YouTube video, and then algorithms kick in and give you more of that content, MacMurray said, fueling chaos and radicalization. Then you find out about QAnon influencers playing those Q drops, he said. There are also people with political agendas who are part of the movement, he said.

What started out as a small group looking at those abandoned clues has grown into a subculture, and some would say a new religion, MacMurray said.

Another hallmark of the QAnon movement is an “us versus them” mentality, which is also common in youth culture in which teens rebel against parents, MacMurray said. Members feel they are inside of something and feel important. They also feel like they are part of a community.

Many speakers at the convention spoke about this sense of community and family they feel through the group and their common cause. He echoed the common community ties between religious institutions, with some speakers mentioning the importance of doing good, being kind and loving one another.

“There’s also that sense of historic significance,” MacMurray said. “You are involved in major historical events and the rest of the world does not understand it. Only you get it.

MacMurray and his colleagues compared it to moral panics, like the Satanic Panic of the 1980s which had a similar fervor in saving children.

This feeling was evident at the convention.

A speaker, Jason Frank, spoke candidly about his past drug addiction and his decision to dedicate his life to God and to “eradicate the evil” of child trafficking. He discussed Comet Ping Pong’s visit to “get as close as possible to the source” and gain his own understanding, he said.

“This is the greatest moment in history,” he said, adding that he was preparing to return to the battlefield. “The scribes will write parchments around this time. “

The belief that the forces of evil conspire to hurt good people is deeply rooted in the human psyche, wrote psychologist Jan-Willem van Prooijen of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in a 2018 NBC News article on the psychology behind QAnon.

“In the Dark Ages, witch hunts were based on the belief that young women gathered in the woods to conspire with the devil, and many traditional societies still accuse enemy tribes of witchcraft to harm or control them. He wrote.

Distinguishing fact from fiction is going to be increasingly important in order to curb these conspiracy theories, he said. But an extra layer comes when there is a denial of fact, which was another common theme throughout the convention. Speakers said throughout the event that they “were the truth” and had their own side of the story.

So what can we do? Can people come back from these extremes? MacMurray and his colleagues are beginning to examine various de-radicalization and “disinformation” projects that have been put forward to combat these false theories. Although he is reluctant to call the QAnon movement a cult, there are parallels that can be studied to help, such as how people broke with cults.

“How do you get someone to come back to these beliefs? ” He asked. This is something he hopes to learn more about.

It won’t be the last Las Vegas sees extremists. The convention’s organizers, John Sabal, or “QAnon John”, and his partner, Amy, have announced that there will be another convention in February at the Ahern Hotel.

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