David Reinert holds up a large ‘Q’ sign, representing QAnon, a conspiracy theory group, while waiting in line to see President Donald J. Trump at his rally in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, August 2, 2018. (Rick Loomis/Getty Images via JTA)

We need to recognize the dangers of hateful beliefs like QAnon.

Most of us believe that in order for democracy to work, it must include us all. But Trump is trying to divide us by spreading blatant misinformation in the midst of an election. We all should be alarmed that on Trump’s recent live town hall on NBC in Miami, he repeatedly refused to publicly condemn QAnon, a bunk conspiracy theory that is rife with antisemitic undertones. Clearly, Trump, who has parroted QAnon claims numerous times, is unfazed that gross stereotypes directed towards the most marginalized groups in society are back in the political mainstream. This trend should alarm everyone, particularly Jews across the country.

Levi Teitel
Levi Teitel

We have seen this before: QAnon’s main set of beliefs borrows from some of the most pervasive stereotypes about Jewish people and other groups. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fabricated text from the early 20th century that claimed a secret force of Jews were planning for global domination, parallels QAnon’s baseless assertion that figures in Hollywood, the Democratic Party, the “deep state,” and “elites” seek to take over the government and control society. These are all the same dog whistle phrases antisemites have used for centuries.

As political extremism among the far-right takes hold today, the most fervent supporters of these conspiracy theories become radicalized on the internet. Enticed by the very real concerns of child abduction and trafficking, where QAnon crosses the line is how its central belief is a modern-day blood libel. It is then shocking and disturbing that the president would stoke the flames by giving these conspiracies a platform on his personal social media accounts as he has done more than 200 times.

Moreover, the number of Republicans running for office who hold QAnon close to their hearts demonstrates the depth of their influence in Republican Party. There are dozens of Republicans this year who have run and are unafraid to speak about their support for QAnon and its falsehoods. From QAnon’s beginning as a fringe belief to the mainstream, the Republican Party has failed to properly distance itself from QAnon, so much as even platforming individuals who are associated with it.

A right-wing activist was scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention this summer until — just hours before her slot — she was pulled because she posted a lengthy screed on social media that actually told people to read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Seventeen Republican Members of Congress voted against a House resolution condemning QAnon. And Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican candidate for Congress in Georgia, is quite open about her support for QAnon and has received plaudits from top Congressional Republicans and Trump.

Because of how QAnon has become so integral to the political landscape in 2020, it’s shocking but not surprising to see what occurred at Trump’s town hall on NBC. After given the chance to distance himself from the conspiracy theory and its adherents, he contradicted himself in just two sentences about his knowledge of QAnon and then pivoted to attacking his political enemies. Is this an acceptable answer for how elected officials should respond to threats to our communities?

The answer is no, and it’s more important now than ever to work together in order to fight back. With what the stakes are this November and what’s on the line for our communities, we need to unite across our differences this election season. Whether we are Black or white, Native or newcomer, Jewish or Muslim, we know that for democracy to work for all of us, it must include us all.

Levi Teitel is the rural communications coordinator for Progress Michigan.


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