QAnon targets Chinese people amid rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

QAnon targets Chinese and Jewish in ‘rebrand’ of conspiracy movement

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 25 March 2021 11:02
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<p>QAnon is spreading damaging conspiracy theories targeting Chinese and Jewish people, experts say. File photo. </p>

QAnon is spreading damaging conspiracy theories targeting Chinese and Jewish people, experts say. File photo.

Experts believe that QAnon is trying to “rebrand” its conspiracy movement by now attacking Chinese and Jewish people in a “plot to take over the world.”

QAnon, besides its anti-Chinese and anti-Jewish tropes, is also trying to instil “fear of vaccines” among people and this move is an indication that racism, lies and propaganda in US politics will “continue to have staying power,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Joel Finkelstein, the director of Rutgers University’s Network Contagion Research Institute, called this a “rebrand” that will allow conspiracy theorists to “pivot after a year of political upheaval, scrutiny and disappointing predictions.”

This comes amid an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the country. Mr Finkelstein told LA Times that “the switch, and the emphasis on suspicion toward Asians and Jews, could lead to more violence.”

Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a professor at American University in Washington, DC, who runs the Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab, told media: “That is what I worry about. Individuals who are either unstable or have been really radicalised during a long pandemic.”

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Experts believe that this move is aimed at keeping QAon relevant. Just before shutdowns were announced, much of QAnon’s theories surrounded the “disgust” toward Asians and virus originating in China with former US president Donald Trump calling Covid-19 “Chinese flu.”

Mr Finkelstein said, “Since the election, the anti-Asian sentiment has shifted to anxiety about worldwide dominance, specifically a communist overthrow of governments backed by Jewish people who control wealth.”

US president Joe Biden is seen as a “pawn of these elites.”

“They are unifying under a giant umbrella of a common enemy. Sometimes it’s the Jews. Occasionally it’s the Asians, usually, it’s the government. What is happening is they are fishing for different issues to cause violence with,” LA Times quoted Mr Finkelstein as saying.

Extremism trackers also pointed out that they observed a shift in memes and code words by conspiracy peddlers.

Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice and director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, was quoted as saying, “it really creates an attractive opportunity for extremists to ensconce themselves into divisive, emotionally charged issues where they can focus on the grievances and the villain and not necessarily their own baggage.”

“QAnon is like a newt’s tail. It can constantly reconstitute itself,” he added.

On Reddit, users discussed the “rebrand” threadbare. One user pointed that: “For anyone familiar with the dog-whistles, it’s obvious that antisemitism is deeply baked into the core of QAnon. Heck, large parts of their deep state horror stories are just run-of-the mill blood libel.”

“And going after Chinese people isn’t that new either, they’ve been at it at least since Covid.”

Mr Trump is viewed as a hero by the supporters of this movement. He has, in fact, called them “people who love the country.”

QAnon is a “wide-ranging, completely unfounded theory that says that President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles in government, business and the media.”

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