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'Trust the Plan' explores influence and absurdity of QAnon, from satanic Democrats to Trump as a god

The cover of "Trust the Plan" by Will Sommer. (Courtesy of HarperCollins)
The cover of "Trust the Plan" by Will Sommer. (Courtesy of HarperCollins)

By now, many are familiar with QAnon, the once-fringe conspiracy group that gained millions of supporters in the U.S. and abroad over the last 5 years.

For those who aren’t, here’s author and journalist Will Sommer‘s summary: “The world is run by a cabal of Satanic cannibal pedophiles from the ranks of the Democratic party, Hollywood and global finance, who sexually abuse children and even drink their blood in rituals.”

Absent from that summary are aliens, lizard people and a liquid called adrenochrome extracted from terrorized children, some of them in subterranean tunnels. At the movement’s core is the belief that former President Donald Trump is a messianic figure who will bring world peace, absolve debt and cure disease.

What’s the latest on the group, particularly as Trump gears up for the 2024 primary? Sommer joins host Robin Young to talk about his new book, “Trust the Plan: The Rise of QAnon and the Conspiracy That Unhinged America,” a deep dive into QAnon.

Book excerpt: ‘Trust the Plan’

By Will Sommer

Introduction: The Storm

The morning of January 6, 2021, a few hours before Congress would vote to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win, hundreds of Donald Trump’s most fer- vent supporters encircled the U.S. Capitol. Some of the protesters were set- ting up gallows for lawmakers who supported the “stolen” election. Others prowled in military-style body armor, zip ties in hand. Across town, Trump was giving a speech near the White House, urging tens of thousands of his voters to join the crowd already at the Capitol to “show strength.”

Outside of Congress, the scene rippled with anger and open promises to commit violence if Trump wasn’t reinstalled for four more years. Red hats and Trump flags featuring a muscular, armed Rambo-style Donald were popular. But there was another symbol in the swelling mob, too: a flag with a single letter. A Q.

Therese Borgerding, a middle-aged Trump fan from Ohio, had traveled to Washington with her own gear, carrying a giant blue cardboard Q on a pole twice her height, and a neck gaiter that put a large red Q over her mouth. She wanted to tell me something: not about Joe Biden or Donald Trump, but about the children in the tunnels.

As Borgerding told me, nefarious forces led by the most powerful peo- ple in the world—titans of Hollywood, the Democratic Party, and big business—had forced these children to live in thousands of miles of under- ground tunnels. Hidden out of sight, these “mole children” are terrorized by pedophiles until their bodies produce adrenochrome, a highly coveted liquid that celebrities and the world’s richest financiers drink to stay young. Now Trump and the military were using the global Covid-19 pandemic as a cover to rescue the children. The Navy hospital ships deployed to re- spond to the virus were secretly treating the rescued mole children. For that matter, most earthquakes aren’t even earthquakes—they are seismic events created when the Army demolishes the pedophile lairs underground.

Borgerding told me she was getting this information from a secretive military intelligence agent called “Q.” He posited that the whole tunnel operation was run by a globe-spanning cabal of bankers, politicians, and Hollywood stars who could only be stopped by Donald Trump. Now Borg- erding and thousands of her compatriots had come to Washington to make sure Trump stayed in office until his God-given mission to destroy that ca- bal and bring America into a new Christian era, free of war and disease, was accomplished. Rescuing the mole children was just one part of that plan, healing a symptom of a terminally sick world that only Trump could save.

“There’s criminals in there that need to be arrested,” Borgerding said, gesturing across the street toward the Capitol building. “The Democrat Party has done Satanic rituals on little children.” For Borgerding and many others at the Capitol that day, the vote count in Congress wasn’t just about who would be president. It was a physical struggle with Satan himself, a fight for the soul of the world. The Capitol was the latest battlefield in a brewing war, and they were on the front lines.

By the final days of the Trump administration, conspiracy theories abounded. Republicans concocted the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump by rigged voting machines or even a rogue CIA supercom- puter; for liberals, there were fantasies in the “Steele dossier” about Trump paying prostitutes to urinate on a bed Barack Obama once slept in.

Trump broke into politics by pushing conspiracy theories about Obama’s birthplace, then fueled his campaign with a series of similarly bizarre claims about his fellow Republican opponents. He suggested that Senator Marco Rubio wasn’t eligible to be president and that Senator Ted Cruz’s father helped kill John F. Kennedy. Now Trump was the most powerful man in the world, the conspiracy-theorist-in-chief. His constant promotion of outlandish lies throughout his presidency gave his fans permission to dive headlong into conspiracy theories themselves. If the president really thought Cruz’s father shot JFK, what was off-limits for his followers?

The conspiracy theory boom had practical benefits for both politicians and internet hucksters. People convinced that Democrats drank chil- dren’s blood, or that Hillary Clinton ran an assassination squad gunning down her foes in the streets of Washington, came into view for Repub- licans as motivated grassroots activists and voters. The GOP’s budding conspiracy-theorist bloc opened their wallets to buy zinc pills and meal kits to stock their apocalypse bunkers. But they also provided the raw material to keep their favorite politicians in office, donating to campaigns and the legal defense funds of Trump allies. Fearful that the lunatic fringe was no longer so fringe, most Republican lawmakers avoided attacking them.

Conspiracy theories had been gaining ground in the Republican Party since Obama was elected. But there was only one that had the power to move its supporters offline, to turn the usual online trash talk into thou- sands of people in the streets willing to march for their beliefs, and some- times do worse than that. It had more resources and staying power than all the others combined. Borgerding and millions of other Americans had signed on to the biggest conspiracy theory of them all: QAnon.

From ‘Trust the Plan’ by Will Sommer, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 2023 Will Sommer. All rights reserved.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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