New Zealand shooter, QAnon fans get their radicalization from the exact same place

According to initial reports, the accused Christchurch shooter had no link to QAnon, the supposed plot by Donald Trump to sweep up the deep state in military tribunals. And the 77-page manifesto that he uploaded to 8chan shortly before allegedly going on his killing spree makes no direct mention of QAnon.

But the anarchic image board, where QAnon drops are made, was also the likely source for the shooter’s radicalization. Its rapid-fire mix of memes, conspiracy theories, incomprehensible internet references, and racism are the same brew that QAnon is made of. So even though there’s no evidence that the shooter is a Q believer, the radical anti-immigrant rhetoric of the shooter matches up perfectly with the fascistic beliefs of QAnon.

For one thing, the manifesto is strikingly similar to the recently published QAnon book in its tone and style, as both are full of long rambling digressions and personal grievances, often backed up by Wikipedia citations.

The manifesto also makes frequent mentions of sex abuse and of using memes to get out its writer’s racist message—both critical components of QAnon. And this wasn’t lost on the most prolific Q “bakers” who decode the messages.

Beyond the manifesto itself, we’ve seen time and time again how QAnon pulls in everything around it, from plane crashes to typos in Trump tweets, and uses these events as firewood to keep the conspiracy burning. So it’s natural that Q believers would see the Christchurch massacre as yet another front in the endless battle between good and evil at the core of their beliefs.

By far, the most prevalent conspiracy theory imagined by Q followers was that the attack was a false flag, an incident staged by the cabal.

And what’s the distraction from? The revelations of QAnon, of course. It was QAnon himself who claimed that the shootings had to be a false flag, ginned up by a desperate and terrified deep state, doing anything they could to keep Q’s latest prediction, of a 21-day countdown ending on March 18th from hitting zero.

Q claimed that the attack was “not big enough to pull away headlines,” and that “days matter.” Never mind that Q’s predictive track record is worse than strip mall psychic. All it took was for Q to hint that the shooting was a false flag, and a false flag it became.

Major QAnon accounts immediately pick up on the thread, spamming out false claims and conspiratorial nonsense to their hundreds of thousands of followers

They quickly declared that the attacks were designed to give the deep state an excuse to pull down 8chan, advance the globalist (ie, Jewish) agenda through gun confiscation, tar conspiracy theorists as untrustworthy lunatics, or codify some kind of anti-Trump agenda carried out by the signatories of the “Five Eyes” treaty, which counts New Zealand.

The allegations were then eagerly regurgitated on the QAnon boards on 8chan, Voat, and elsewhere. Pretty soon, it was “obvious” that the attack was staged, the manifesto faked, and the culprits obvious.

What was the evidence for any of this? None. They are the same claims made about almost every mass shooting and terrorist attack of the last quarter-century—baselessly proferred without evidence—a result of wishful thinking, cognitive bias, and willful misreading of the events of the shooting.

Q believers claimed the shooter was “too invested” in American politics for being an Australian, that there was some link to the 737 crash in Ethiopia because there are “no coincidences,” that there’s a sinister link to Pizzagate enemy No. 1 John Podesta visiting New Zealand a few days before the attack (he spoke at a conference in a different city), and that it’s a sign of deep state “panic” at what’s to come.

None of these details are relevant, and most aren’t even true. They aren’t evidence of a conspiracy, nor motive for one. Why would it matter if John Podesta was in the same country as a mass shooting? After all, he spends most of his time in the United States, which has more mass shootings than any other country. Is he responsible for all of them? (Don’t answer that, Q believers probably think so.)

And what does a plane crash have to do with a shooting half a world away? Just saying they’re linked because “no coincidences” does not actually link them.

In reality, the conspiracy to be investigated is not some invisible deep state writing a meme-filled manifesto and sending a killer into a mosque—it’s the complicity and malaise of tech companies who are unwilling or unable to police the racism and radicalization on their platforms.

Facebook couldn’t stop the killer from livestreaming his massacre, and all major social venues have struggled to contain the video since then. Social media radicalization is a problem growing in size and scope by the day, yet those who could stop it simply can’t find their way around doing it.

QAnon is part of this radicalization, with its believers espousing end-of-the-world fantasies about shooting looters, hanging the Clintons, and scooping up their enemies in ad hoc trials. All the while, Twitter and Facebook allow it to continue with little moderation. And several times these fantasies have spilled into real-life, in the form of murder, arson, and police standoffs.

Ultimately, the major tech companies could prevent another Christchurch by removing, banning, or deplatforming many of the worst offenders spreading the messages and incitements to violence racist violence. This includes the QAnon conspiracy.

And that could be the biggest reason of all that Q believers want so badly to latch on to this horrific crime. Some of them want to get away with it too.

Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild is a writer who specializes in researching and debunking conspiracy theories and fringe beliefs. He also writes about politics, history, and breaking news.