Followers of the right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory are finding new ways to stay relevant, including running for school boards or local offices, according to a report.
They are spreading the “gospel” of QAnon but not calling it that, said a report by US news channel NBC, citing instances of this occurring in states like Florida, California and Pennsylvania.
While attending a school board meeting late June in Florida’s Seminole county, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) referee Drake Wuertz said “America’s children” were at risk of systemic abuse and the only way to stop this was to run for local elections.
Mr Wuertz, however, denied being a QAnon follower despite using material from the conspiracy theory in his speech. The core conspiracy theory posits former president Donald Trump as a messianic figure fighting “deep state” operatives. QAnon followers claim Democrats and Hollywood celebrities molest and murder children.
“I can tell you that I 100 per cent don’t subscribe to Q theories. Q theories hurt the mission of fighting sex trafficking and bring negative attention,” Mr Wuertz was quoted as saying by NBC.
This new plan of fighting for local office has come in the aftermath of MrTrump’s defeat in the 2020 elections and the disappearance of the anonymous online account “Q”, according to NBC.
This distancing from the QAnon brand while embracing the slogan has been attributed to several factors, said the report.
This included the disappearance of “Q” – the anonymous online account that served as QAnon’s inspiration – and a crackdown on similar handles by social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, that minimised the use of the term, said the report.
In a post last September, Q told followers to “camouflage” themselves online, while Great Awakening, an online forum calling itself the “public face of Q,” told followers to “take responsibility” for school committees and boards. “Local action=national impact,” it said.
The development prompted the National Education Association, a prominent teachers union, to issue a warning in early June. “Conspiracy theorists and proponents of fake news are winning local elections. And their new positions give them a powerful voice in everything from local law enforcement to libraries, trash pickup to textbook purchases,” said the association.
This was highlighted in another incident, where students in Grand Blanc, Michigan, demanded the resignation of a school board member after she showed support for the conspiracy theory on her social media, reported NBC. The member in question refused to resign and denied the existence of QAnon.
Since the 6 January riots at the Capitol Hill and Donald Trump’s defeat in the presidential elections, there has been growing dissatisfaction even within the movement and among its followers. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones lost his patience with the movement and told “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley on his InfoWars show that his prophecies were “lies.”
“I will not suffer your Q people after this!” Mr Jones said. “I knew what you were on day one and I know what you are now and I’m sick of it! I’m sick of all these witches and warlocks.”
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