A Disturbing Poll About a Disturbing Movement

Nearly half of people who support the conspiracy theory group known as QAnon said they agree that the rise of liberalism has “equipped Jews to destroy institutions, and in turn gain control of the world,” according to a survey released last week by Morning Consult, an intelligence company that provides survey research tools and data services to organizations globally.

QAnon is a web-based network led by a shadowy figure known only as “Q,” who claims to be a high-level government insider. It has spread “information” like the assertion that there exists a worldwide cabal of Satanist child snatchers (in a quest for the children’s blood, an ingredient of which the evildoers believe, according to Q, will prolong their lives). The cabal, Q has said, is led by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, members of the Rothschild family and George Soros, and controls politicians and the media.

The group has also claimed that Princess Diana was murdered after trying to stop the September 11 attacks, and that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a puppet ruler who was installed by the CIA; that Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz hired the Salvadoran gang MS-13 to murder Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich; and that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a granddaughter of Adolf Hitler.

Despite the group’s obviously tenuous relationship with reality, it has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers, and has even been embraced or praised by candidates of Congress. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia once praised an article that promoted QAnon as “a refreshing and objective flow of information,” but has since walked her apparent endorsement of the group back.

The Morning Consult poll, which was conducted this past spring, found that 49% of QAnon supporters agreed with the canard spread by the infamous Russian antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion — a book that continues to be sold and celebrated in many parts of the world — that there is a devious global Jewish conspiracy aimed at controlling the world. 78% of U.S. respondents who accept the “Protocols” as truth also embrace QAnon.

Joanna Mendelson, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told Morning Consult that “Although we wouldn’t say initially that QAnon had antisemitic tropes, very quickly it became apparent that there was a strain within QAnon belief that articulated some of these very clearly antisemitic tropes.”

Although “Q” hasn’t posted anything for months, an assortment of other similar “influencers” have sought to capitalize on his popularity. One, who calls himself “GhostEzra,” has shared the widespread, though evidence-free, assertion that the 2020 election was rigged.

One of the rioters at the Capitol on January 6 wore a sweatshirt that said “Camp Auschwitz: Work Brings Freedom.”

“You can’t overstate, really, how much QAnon had a role in what happened on January 6,” Aoife Gallagher, an analyst with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s Digital Analysis Unit, told Morning Consult. “GhostEzra” has asserted, as well, that the earth is flat and that Joe Biden is actually deceased and the man currently in the White House is an impersonator.

The conspiracy theorist has also started to share extreme antisemitic content almost daily on an open-source social media platform, including Holocaust denialism and encouraging his followers to watch a 12-hour-long neo-Nazi propaganda film.

And he now has more than 339,000 subscribers.

The platform has become a popular web platform for QAnon believers, since other social media sources started cracking down on the group’s online “communities.” Twitter says that, since January 8, it has suspended more than 150,000 accounts that “were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content.”

But, while those efforts by the most prominent social media platforms are responsible and laudable, the sad and frightening reality is that the internet will always have places for deluded and hateful people to gather virtually and feed off one another’s dark and dangerous fantasies.

The inclusion of rabid anti-Jewish lies in a deluded populist movement is, of course, nothing new in history. Antisemitism finds hosts in all eras and on both fringes of the political spectrum. Of late, on one, it is routinely dressed up in more presentable but just as blood-stained “anti-Israeli colonialism” clothes; on the other, it is unclothed entirely.

Both groups of extremist ideologues are timely reminders, as we approach Tishah B’Av, of the fact that galus is… galus. And that, in the end, as the Gemara (Sotah 49b) reminds us: “Upon Whom is there for us to rely? Only on our Father in Heaven.”

May He hear our kinos and tefillos, and quickly end our tzaros by sending us the go’el tzedek.