When the history books are written about the Donald Trump era, one unnerving anecdote will undoubtedly be how elements of the right cast aside basic standards of decency. Among the worst offenders on the right has been Steve Strang, founder and publisher of Charisma magazine. In his effort to join the religious right’s ham-handed campaign to bully the nation into supporting Trump, Strang has given us plenty of reasons to suggest that his standards and morals have taken a dive.
For instance, Strang whined that by calling for an investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s claims that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, Democrats were trying to derail his confirmation over “nickel and dime stuff.” He claimed that the massive tax fraud orchestrated by Trump and his siblings wasn’t a big deal because the tax laws are soooo unfair. He thinks that Trump faced impeachment not because he abused his power, but because those mean old Democrats just didn’t like him. He saw fit to give platforms to anti-Semitic “pastor” Rick Wiles and quack doctor Stella Immanuel.
But if there was any doubt that Strang’s standards have taken a steep dive off the cliff, they should have been erased on Wednesday afternoon. Strang saw fit to publish an article that amounted to a paean to QAnon.
Author and nonprofit leader Amir George believes that “Q,” the Trump adviser dribbling out tidbits about Trump’s supposed plan to wipe out a massive pedophile ring encompassing nearly everyone who is everyone in the Democratic Party and Hollywood, is doing us a public service. As George sees it, there’s a “behind-the-scenes battle” between Trump and this “evil cabal” of devil-worshiping pedophiles in the deep state that supposedly control everything. Supposedly, we only know about this battle because “Q” has been telling us about it on 4chan and 8chan.
If that wasn’t enough, George claims that “Q” is telling us about a “great awakening.” According to George, this awakening involves “regular people standing up to defend freedom” against the evil plans of the deep state. For a snapshot of what these “regular people” believe, check out this clip from Comedy Central’s Jim Jeffries in 2018.
In a logical contortion that is bizarre even by religious right standards, George claims that his deep dive into QAnon still left him unsure about whether it’s “a hoax or a real movement.” And yet, he spent several paragraphs trying to convince us that it is a real movement. If that wasn’t enough, he claimed that there was “a sudden backlash and push to discredit” QAnon being driven by “the deep state and its various outlets.”
Um, Amir? Have you considered why there’s a drive to debunk QAnon? Dozens of people have been harassed, trolled, and threatened after being falsely accused of either being pedophiles or covering for pedophiles. Indeed, some of QAnon’s most ardent adherents have made clear that if you loudly oppose Trump, at best you’re covering for pedophiles. QAnon adherents have been linked to numerous instances of violent behavior, such as a man blockading traffic to Hoover Dam at gunpoint and at least one attempt on the life of Joe Biden.
This is why the FBI recently deemed QAnon a domestic terrorism threat. And this is why Facebook and Twitter have embarked on a long-overdue effort to crack down on QAnon. This has been widely reported, and yet barely rates a passing mention. Had this been published in a secular outlet, it would be reckoned as a complete breakdown of every safeguard that is supposed to prevent such outrageous bilge from being published. Even allowing for most of Charisma’s readers living in a bubble, this is embarrassing.
Indeed, this article draws parallels with SB Nation’s attempted deep dive into the life of Daniel Holtzclaw, a former college football player who was sentenced to over 200 years in prison for sexually assaulting at least 13 women. The story was roundly criticized for giving short shrift to Holtzclaw’s victims, and was taken down within hours. SB Nation described the story as “a complete failure” of its editorial process that was “insensitive to the victims of sexual assault and rape.”
George’s story is no different. It completely glosses over the real-world violence engendered by QAnon, even though they have been widely reported. And yet, George doesn’t see fit to acknowledge this. It says a lot about George that he didn’t do so. And it says almost as much about Strang and Charisma that they saw fit to publish this article in its present form.
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