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Sep 22, 20

This Week in Fascism #75: How Qanon is Creating a Culture that Justifies Mass Violence

photo via Left Coast Right Watch and Sierra Foothills Stump

Welcome, fellow antifascists!

This week, we’ve got an explainer on Qanon and its obsession with pedophilia, the Department of Justice declaring three cities to be “anarchist jurisdictions,” Portland police accusing the District Attorney of being “antifa,” plus doxxes of Operation Werewolf, the Proud Boys, and the Midwest head of neo-Nazi group Patriot Front.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Explainer

What’s the Deal With QAnon’s Focus on Pedophilia and Human Trafficking?

At the heart of Qanon lies the belief, inherited and passed down from past conspiracy theories, many directly stemming from anti-Semitic sources, that a shadowy collection of “Satan worshiping pedophiles” which in turn controls Hollywood, the media, the Pope, and liberal elite politicians – are all involved in ritual child human sacrifice, sex trafficking, blood drinking, and cannibalism. These elites make up the “deep state” and only Donald Trump can bring them to justice. Leaking information about this epic conflict, is an anonymous person from within the intelligence community (but somehow not the deep state) with Q level security clearance that has knowledge of this whole plot and has been leaving clues, known as “Q-drops,” on racist far-Right boards like 4chan and 8chan (because where else would a senior official do so?). Q’s followers then take the seemingly nonsensical clues, known as “crumbs,” that are posted online and try and make sense of them.

Widely written off as a fringe conspiracy theory, in the lead up to the 2020 election, Qanon has launched itself from the bowels of the far-Right internet and racist message-boards like 8chan and 4chan and into the real world. Recently, rallies across the US took place under the banner of #SavetheChildren, and Qanon followers were there to hijack a legitimate discussion around child trafficking back into their own pro-Trump movement. Moreover, Qanon supporters have also become a recent fixture at far-Right demonstrations, taking their place besides militia members, Proud Boys, and white nationalists.

Despite the movement taking a dive in late 2019, Qanon in the post-pandemic world has exploded within pro-Trump and far-Right circles; even being embraced more and more by the Trump team. Already, there are Qanon politicians currently running for office, with many more on the way. Trump has taken to sharing content from Qanon followers and calls Qanon followers simply people who “love their country” very much. In many ways, Qanon has come to replace the Alt-Right as one of bedrocks of shared culture within the existing far-Right and pro-Trump world, both online and off. It’s also a culture that has managed to animate a section of the working and middle-classes as well as a sizeable part of Trump’s aging base.

And like the Alt-Right did in 2017, Qanon now wants to leave the confines of the internet and flex its muscle on the street. But Qanon’s obsession with pedophilia and its attempt to hijack the anti-human trafficking movement is simply that – an attempt to platform their own reactionary, pro-Trump ideas while flying under the radar. As NBC News reported:

QAnon spent years on the fringes of the internet, with the theory evolving and often growing less specific. What was originally a conspiracy theory that centered on an anonymous internet poster has now become something of a catchall for a variety of beliefs about a hidden group of child abusers in positions of power.

That’s helped create a palatable entry point for many people who might not spend much time in dark parts of the internet but are active on Facebook. It’s a strategy that has led to a significant growth in people who might not necessarily be among the most ardent QAnon die-hards, but are beginning to warm to some of its ideas.

“This is not about pedophilia,” said Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University and co-author of the book, “You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories and Our Polluted Media Landscape.” “This is not about child protection. This is about a conspiracy theory that’s trying to couch itself in other terms to get more people involved and sympathetic.”

And those sympathetic people are showing up at rallies and trying to take action. People who have spent years working for organizations that fight human trafficking and child abuse say that they have been flooded by bizarre claims and tips, as well as criticism and sometimes threats.

Eddie Kim at Mel Magazine wrote:

Human trafficking has been a crisis all throughout American history, but the advent of the internet and online socializing has made trafficking and abusing kids an especially profitable venture, in the U.S. and abroad. But the Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse case, plus new developments about the involvement of socialite Ghislane Maxwell, has made child trafficking the source of fuel for a cottage industry on social media that promotes, above all, saving the children. Much of the content appears benign, yet the movement is carried on the backs of QAnon conspiracy theorists and MAGA stans.

They blame progressive activists and the “mainstream media” for perceived sins ranging from mass ignorance to a concerted agenda to sexualize children and normalize pedophilia. They believe the biggest crisis that must be addressed in 2020 is child trafficking, rather than the economic collapse or America’s reckoning with a racist justice system. And amid all this fury and righteousness, “Save the Children” has become social media’s hottest new issue to co-opt. Meanwhile, the muddying of a legitimate tragedy makes it hard to contain the spread of fringe theories, with people unknowingly sharing posts from authors who have a questionable grasp of the facts.

Qanon’s conception of what is driving child and human trafficking also does a disservice to our understanding of these actual problems. By reducing the issue of pedophilia or human trafficking down to the fictional actions of “the deep state” or “liberal elites,” Qanon supporters are removing the conversation from reality. This is in line with how the Right often views the core problem of sexual-abuse – as something alien that is always secretly creeping into the lives of good and normal people by outside, subversive, or conspiratorial forces: from Satanic Democrats, heavy metal music played backwards, or the Drag Queen Story Hour. Any discussion of the role of patriarchy and authoritarian values is thus thrown out the window in an embrace of a far-Right fever dream.

Qanon also acts as a giant “All Lives Matter” flood gate in the face of increasing grassroots popular anger and action. Who cares about fighting structural racism and white supremacy when there are kids being trafficked? And who cares about actual kids in cages when liberal elites are drinking the blood of children in order to live forever? And who cares about kids being sent back to school in the midst of COVID-19, when there’s Satanic pedophiles out there running the world? In short, Qanon suddenly has become the greatest whataboutism of all time.

According to Mother Jones reporter, Ali Breland, support for Qanon dropped in late 2019, after 8chan was shut down following various white nationalist mass murderers posting their manifesto to the site. Trump’s campaign staff also attempted to distance the campaign from Q, however, by the spring of 2020 things changed, as Qanon quickly became woven into the growing reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic response – and the quarantine pushed people to spend more time on social media. And there, inside far-Right echo chambers, especially on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, Qanon hashtags, videos and posts exploded in March of 2020 as the lockdown began.

While Qanon can easily be brushed aside as simply the re-animation of past anti-Semitic and David Ike conspiracies of the past, what weaponizes Qanon in the current terrain is that it uplifts Donald Trump as the sole savior of the human race – especially “the children” – while also compositing all his opponents as literal pedophiles. It’s this feeling of life and death that’s already led to several acts of Qanon related violence.

Thus, it’s no surprise that at recent pro-Trump rallies, Qanon speakers have openly called for the murder of Democratic officials they accuse of pedophilia, while Proud Boy shirts loudly proclaim that “all our enemies are pedophiles” and that the only solution is to kill them. Also, in a nod towards the Alt-Right, some within the Qanon movement have also made a hard turn into an open embrace of full on anti-Semitism, a move which racializes the movement’s “opposition” to what they view as ruling elites.

In short, the Right is creating a narrative that not only justifies extreme violence against its enemies, but also Trump staying in office for as long as possible.

News

Portland Police Union Boss Accuses District Attorney of Being “Soros-Backed,” Officer Calls DA “Antifa”

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, a progressive who recently took office and announced on August 11th that his office would not be prosecuting most protest-related charges, was accused of being “George Soros-backed” by the head of the Portland Police union, with one officer calling him “antifa” at a recent meeting.

Since the announcement, Portland Police have only grown more brutal, enacting punishment on the streets. It follows a pattern similar to other cities where progressive District Attorneys have taken office and declined to prosecute most peaceful protesters, like Philadelphia and Boston.

The accusations also follow a pattern of law enforcement and Republican officials repeating far-Right propaganda. In July, journalist Nathan Bernard documented how the Department of Homeland Security spread rumors about “bricks… placed strategically” to local law enforcement via intelligence briefings. The origin of the tip was Ray Andrews, a far-Right activist who used the name “Wolfmann” to organize Re-Open rallies with far-Right group Super Happy Fun America, the sponsors of the Straight Pride Parade. Most recently on Twitter, President Trump shared a video falsely accusing antifascist activists of spreading wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the claims of right-wing media and the Trump administration, an analysis from Shane Burley and Alexander Reid Ross found that the vast majority of protest-related violence came from law enforcement and the far-right, not from protesters. The two reporters documented a string of vigilante attacks on journalists and protesters in a new article for Truthout.

Seeking to further stigmatize cities where anti-police protests have occurred, the Department of Justice declared New York City, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon, to be “anarchist jurisdictions,” with instructions to remove federal funding from locations in-which the city has voted to reduce the annual budget of the police department.

Doxxes

Richard Bowman, Operation Werewolf member, of Wilsonville, Oregon

Eugene Antifa uncovered the identity of Richard Bowman. Bowman is a member of Operation Werewolf out of Wilsonville, Oregon. Bowman spends his time on social media spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories, and talking the “the great replacement,” another conspiracy theory that claims that white people are being systematically replaced in majority-white countries. “The great replacement” is also called “white genocide,” and it’s the same conspiracy theory that inspired the Christchurch shooter, who murdered 51 people in March 2019.

On August 22nd, Bowman also attended the far-Right rally in downtown Portland, armed with a collapsible baton, hard knuckle gloves, and a full-length wooden shield. At some points, he appeared to be commanding the far-Right shield wall.

He’s a trucker for R+L Carriers, which you can contact online here: https://rlcarriers.com/contact/contactform

For a much more detailed writeup of Bowman, head on over to Eugene Antifa’s blog post here.

Jeffrey Perrine, White Nationalist Street Harasser, Orangevale, California

Antifa Sacramento has uncovered the identity of Orangevale, California White Nationalist, Proud Boys associate, and far-Right organizer Jeffrey Perrine. Perrine has been engaged in far-Right organizing and the Patriot movement for the past year. He’s known for attempting to disrupt leftist events and harassing activists and community members by being openly anti-immigrant, racist, and a transphobic supporter of Trump.

As a roundup of his participation, Perrine frequently travels to participate in extremist rallies, including Patriot Prayer in the Pacific Northwest, the recent No to Marxism rally in Berkeley, and the MOAR (Mother of All Rallies) Trump rally in Washington, D.C. He has also been previously affiliated with the Sacramento Proud Boys, but was eventually kicked out for being short-fuzed and openly white nationalist, traits that are commonplace among Proud Boys but that leadership prefer to be more covert. It’s been reported that his propensity for violence toward LGBTQ people, immigrants and leftists has escalated over the last year. Community members with information about Perrine can contact Antifa Sacramento: antifasac[at]riseup[dot]net.

For a detailed report of Jeffrey Perrine, check out the blog here.

Max Misch, White Nationalist, Vermont

Idavox reports that self-proclaimed white nationalist Max Misch was arrested on August 30th, 2020 in Bennington, Vermont, for walking through and defacing a Black Lives Matter mural while Black Lives Matter activists were in the middle of painting it. According to Idavox, “Misch engaged in a verbal altercation with a painter that caused paint to spill and then walked through the mural with wet paint on his shoes. He was charged with disorderly conduct — tampering with painted portions of the mural and for pushing and shoving.” Misch is also known for harassing the first Black woman elected to the Vermont House of Representatives. The harassment was so bad that the representative eventually resigned.

Idavox reports that Misch is “…an Iraq war veteran… originally from Bayside Queens, a community in New York City known for tensions between the formerly mostly White residents and Hispanic and Asian residents who have been moving in…[and] has been known to spread antisemitic conspiracy theories despite being himself ethnically Jewish, even having been Bar Mitzvoh.”

Check out the entire Idavox article for a more detailed account of Misch.

Trevor Valescu, Patriot Front Midwest Network Director, Minnesota

Minnesota United Against Fascism have identified the Patriot Front Midwest Network Director as Trevor Valescu, who has been in this role since June of this year. In December 2019, he met up with the American Identity Movement leader of Minnesota to coordinate organizing efforts. In telegram chats, where he discusses recruitment, he goes by the alias Johnny MN.

For an archive of his social media, head on over here.

Harvey “Zipper” Williams, Neo-Nazi and Panzer Streetwear Customer of Bryan, Texas

Antifascist activists Panic in the Discord, in collaboration with Utah 161, Corvallis Against Fascism, and Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists have identified another Panzer Streetwear customer out of Bryan, Texas. His name is Harvey “Zipper” Williams and according to the dox, he is an unabashed bonehead covered in racist symbols. The now defunct Panzer Streetwear was a hotbed for neo-Nazis of all stripes, providing clothing that promotes fascism through the use of overt neo-Nazi imagery ranging from photos of baby Hitler to totenkopfs to threats toward anti-fascists. You can read background on Panzer Streetwear here.

Williams is said to have been a frequent, loyal customer who would typically post photos of himself in their clothing to his social media accounts, but it’s not just his clothing that is concerning. Williams is known to wear a Thor’s hammer necklace, a symbol that may seem innocuous but has been appropriated by neo-Nazis and in conjunction with his tattoos, speaks volumes on his ideology. At one point, Williams had a giant ‘GESTAPO’ tattoo across his neck which got him fired from his last job, at which point he decided to get it covered up. However, in a post on Instagram, he states that even though the tattoo has been covered, his ideology never changed.

You can read more about Williams here.

Williams works for Sanderson Farms, a chicken processing plant, and those who are able are asked to contact them and ask them about their policies around hiring neo-Nazis.

Robert (Bobby) Michael Williams, Boogaloo Supporter and Neo-Nazi, East Peoria, Illinois

Panic in the Discord were able to identify a Boogaloo Boy on Facebook by the name of Robert “Bobby” Michael Williams from East Peoria, IL. As we’ve discussed extensively over the course of the summer, the Boogaloo Boys are a loosely affiliated group of pro-gun accelerationists who desire a second civil war. Organizing has taken place primarily on Facebook since the George Floyd Uprising began at the beginning of the summer, and Bobby has found his place in it.

Following the murders of two anti-racist protesters in Kenosha by “Back the Blue” supporter Kyle Rittenhouse, Bobby spammed pages on Facebook with Boogaloo imagery and graphic photos of murdered and injured protesters. What is most alarming is that Bobby works as a janitor at Riverview Elementary School. Panic in the Discord are asking folks to reach out to the school and ask them their thoughts on having a neo-Nazi and accelerationist working in such close proximity to children.

Panic in the Discord asks that you send school administration this thread. You can contact the school through it’s Facebook page. Additional contacts for Riverview Elementary School can be found here.

Jonathan Adam Schutz, Trump supporter, White Supremacist, and Convicted Pedophile in Reno, Nevada

Reno Iron Front have identified a Reno Trump supporter and white supremacist by the name of Jonathan Adam Schutz. Additionally, as Reno Iron Front specifies, “feel(s) that Jonathan’s past conviction and choice to uphold the tenets of white supremacy is a threat to our community and you should know more about him.”

When Reno Iron Front tracked down Jonathan’s social media account, they found his Instagram avatar to be a “Valknot,” which is a Norse symbol that has been appropriated by neo-Nazis. Unsurprisingly, Jonathan is also an anti-masker. According to Nevada court records obtained by Reno Iron Front, in October 2005, Jonathan was convicted of lewdness with a child under 14 and as such, is a registered sex offender.

For more detailed information about Jonathan, follow this link to Biggest Little City’s full write up.

Call to Action

Saturday, September 26th, there will be a mass anti-fascist community mobilization and celebration in Portland, Oregon featuring food, music, speakers, and workshops. The gathering is being organized in response to the Proud Boys rallying on the same day. Come out, bring your friends, and stand together!

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This Week in Fascism

A weekly roundup of the latest and greatest happenings in the anti-fascist world. Each column features a roundup of news, actions, doxxes and current calls to action.

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