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Many Americans Are Halfway to Joining a Terrorist Group and Don’t Know it

E. Rosalie
Aug 24, 2020 · 5 min read

The FBI identified Q-anon as a domestic terrorist threat in 2018. We need to call it what it is and condemn it. Sharing their material and saying, “some of it is true,” or, “some of what they say is good though,” must be seen as we would if people did it with any other terrorist organization.

We want to understand the world and we want to believe we are a force for good, so we share their materials about human trafficking and feel helpful. It is not. It’s disrupting genuine efforts to stop human trafficking, and it’s distorting reality.

Wanting to help is admirable — that comes from a good place.

Groups like Q-anon prey on our best instincts and twist them. Police arrested a follower of Q-anon with bomb-making materials in 2018. He intended to use the explosive to alert the public about human trafficking.

The most tragic part is that this ideology has hurt actual victims of real human trafficking, most of whom ended up there because of their families. That’s the most common way people end up in human trafficking.

How do I know?

International Organization for Migration | Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Providers

Trafficking is a serious concern for public health, just like mental health and suicide, two issues about which the group has sown prolific misinformation to devastating consequences.

There are actually people in public health who really study and fight against these problems. Those people are also familiar with Fauci, from decades of working with him. That is why they respect him.

If you have never heard of him before 2020, but you have strong negative feelings about him, then Q-anon has likely already affected you. It isn’t because he’s done something wrong.

He is likely the first person to include minority input on policy affecting them after he ordered the FBI not to arrest protestors outside the NIH in Bethesda, MD. Instead of dismissing them, he invited the protestors to meet, and he listened to them. Many of his staunch opponents became friends. He has always been that man.

If you do not see that, Q may be a part of your life. Before you get sucked into these narratives, ask yourself, what is the proof? Has anyone said this is happening to them?

Is there a simpler explanation since we know conspiracies with vast numbers of people do not stay secret? That’s how we know about Watergate and many other conspiracies.

If you are attempting to fight human trafficking, that’s wonderful. Join a legitimate organization because you’re not doing it, spreading a pseudo-religious cult based upon an unsubstantiated fantasy that is actively endangering the public.

The movement has gained traction within the Republican party, but true conservatives should know this party has nothing for those who have traditional values. They only play on what they know you want to hear, muddying the line between groups so people in the Republican party feel this is just another value in their party line.

The Republican party in Texas sells merchandise with Q-anon slogans, and other minor politicians affiliated with the party have given it subtle nods.

Some followers believe Q to be JFK Junior and believe he will return to be Trump’s running mate, something that is both ridiculous and an insult to the memory of a man who would not have associated with the theory. The logic of people who espouse this ideology — tacitly supported by the current president — strikes people as unbelievable.

“Trump tweeted… ‘I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE.’ The Q crowd seized on both tweets, arguing that if you ignore most of the letters in the messages, you’ll find a confession from Trump: ‘I am… Q.’”

the Atlantic in Prophesies of Q

After a time, people get used to the ideas. The messages bleed into mainstream culture. The ideas resemble something moral, superficially. People want to stop human trafficking, but by falling into this group, their impact is anything but helpful.

Instead, they fray the fabric of society. Violence from Q- followers has popped up around the world. This past February in Hanau, Germany, a lone gunman espousing Q-anon like beliefs massacred nine people in bars frequented by immigrants before killing his mother and himself. This is what Q-anon brings, regardless of what they proclaim.

Remember the memes saying masks helped human traffickers? Q-anon. Have you seen people comparing slavery to human trafficking, attempting to downplay the massive evidence for racial inequality in the US? Q-anon. Have you seen people saying that the news is against Trump and wants to unseat him because he is a force against the establishment? Q-anon.

Mainstream media is a liberal propaganda machine? This is a commandment in the Q sacred text — thou shalt not trust mainstream media. Not liking the headlines appears to be enough to dismiss them. It’s far from the most exceptional leap a person makes on their path to Q.

Even knowing what I do about the group, it shocked me to realize how many of their ideas had affected me and it led me to care about the integrity of the sources and outlets I consume in the media. Be very careful what you read, even what you spend time around.

Think about what you share.

If you are saying it is OK that it’s Q-anon, the group has already affected you. If you are suddenly concerned about human trafficking but never had a concern about it before 2020, that might be Q-anon influencing you. That is how people end up joining these organizations.

People see a noble cause, stopping trafficking, and never even notice the fact nothing they do has any effect on victims. Where are the victims they have helped? Stop and ask yourself basic questions, like why do I think this is true? Do I have proof? Where is the proof from and does a source have an interest in getting me to believe something?

No one thinks they’re joining terrorism, just like people rarely think they’re biased. Now, other countries have had a problem with the US exporting this ideology in the way some used to fear terrorists immigrating here.

If you don’t see the problem with sharing Q-anon content because it has a decent message, you’re well on your way into a domestic terrorist organization.

— E

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E. Rosalie

Written by

Public health biologist studying at Johns Hopkins | Science writer & artist | Views reflect me alone | Subscribe @

Digital Diplomacy

Tech, digital, and innovation, at the intersection with policy, government, and social good.

E. Rosalie

Written by

Public health biologist studying at Johns Hopkins | Science writer & artist | Views reflect me alone | Subscribe @

Digital Diplomacy

Tech, digital, and innovation, at the intersection with policy, government, and social good.

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