Several members of the mob that stormed the Capitol in Washington DC this month wore or carried signs invoking the pro-Donald Trump QAnon conspiracy theory, which is laced with antisemitism.
QAnon, which began in 2017 and has gained millions of adherents, alleges that an elite cabal of paedophiles, run by Democrats, is plotting to harvest the blood of children and take down Trump. Trump has praised the movement and espoused its baseless ideas.
The letter represents a purported high-ranking government official who shares inside information with QAnon followers through cryptic posts on fringe websites. QAnon followers often wear T-shirts emblazoned with
a huge Q — and several of them were part of the Capitol mob.
Trust the Plan
As Q’s supposed predictions have proven false over the years — including the election of Joe Biden, which Q predicted would not happen — many QAnon followers became disillusioned.
Others told them to ‘trust the plan’ and place their faith in QAnon’s theories. The phrase has become one of the conspiracy theory’s slogans. Trust the Plan logos were also visible in the Capitol, referring to the ‘plan’ QAnon followers believe is happening.
Save the Children
Messaging related to saving children is a core tenet of QAnon because it alleges a global paedophile ring. Adherents have been seen carrying signs saying ‘The children cry out for justice,’ referencing children whom QAnon conspiracists falsely believe have been abducted by Democrats and progressives, including the Jewish billionaire George Soros.
Prominent Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis were part of the Capitol mob. A far-right activist known as Baked Alaska livestreamed from inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Another extremist, Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist who leads the far-right Groyper Army, was said to be in the room with him. Fuentes denies this but he was seen outside the Capitol.
The Neo-Nazi group NSC-131 also joined the insurrection, according to reporter Hilary Sargent. NSC stands for Nationalist Social Club and has small regional divisions in the United States and abroad. The 131 division is from New England.
In a video, one participant can be seen brandishing a flag with what some Twitter users identified as a swastika, though it isn’t entirely clear.
Confederate flags and nooses
Other flags on display were associated with histories of white supremacy. At least one protester carried a Confederate battle flag into the Capitol building. Nooses — a prominent symbol of racist violence — were placed outside. In one instance, after members of the mob started destroying camera equipment from The Associated Press, they made a noose out of the cords, according to BuzzFeed News reporter Paul McLeod.
Anti-government militia symbols
Flags bearing the phrase ‘when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty’ (a version of a quote dubiously attributed to Thomas Jefferson) and the Roman numerals III also were seen. ‘III’ is the logo of the Three Percenters, also known as the III% militia, an anti-government militia founded in response to the election of President Obama.
The Anti-Defamation League defines the Three Percenters as part of the militia movement that support the idea of a future civil war or ‘boogaloo’, when dedicated ‘patriots’ protect Americans from government tyranny. The Three Percenter concept, created in 2008, is based on an inaccurate historical claim that only three percent of Americans fought in the Revolutionary War against the British.
The group gained prominence last year when its members showed up to anti-lockdown protests and racial justice marches. At least one man wearing a shirt advocating for a civil war was present at the Capitol. The Oath Keepers, an anti-government group like the Three Percenters, were also in DC.
Members of the Proud Boys, the violent far-right group that Trump told to “stand back and stand by” during a September presidential debate, wear black-and-yellow Fred Perry polo shirts along with red Make America Great Again caps. (Fred Perry, a UK brand, has said it would stop selling the shirts because of their association with the group.) Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, who said he quit the group in 2018, was reportedly seen in the DC crowd. The group’s current leader, Enrique Tarrio, has been arrested on weapons charges.
‘Kek’, an online term which is a variation of ‘lol’ and has roots in online gaming, has taken on a new meaning on the far right. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, kek has become the ‘deity’ of the semi-ironic ‘religion’ the white nationalist movement has created for itself. The word is used alongside the cartoon character Pepe the Frog, who has been appropriated as a mascot of white nationalists. The kek flag, above, resembles a Nazi war flag, with a kek logo replacing the swastika and the colour green used in place of red.
The gunman who carried out the 2019 massacre at a New Zealand mosque appropriated symbols of the Crusades, and they’ve become popular with other far-right, ethnonationalist groups. The symbols, such as medieval-style helmets or Templar and crusader crosses, are meant to harken to an era of white, Christian wars against Muslims and Jews.
Marvel comic anti-hero The Punisher has been adopted in recent years by white nationalists and neo-Nazis, to the dismay of its creator. Referring the “tragic misunderstanding”, Gerry Conway told the website Inverse: “It’s a misappropriation of the character and a blatant disregarding of reality.”
Anti-circumcision activists, also known as ‘intactivists’ (a portmanteau of ‘intact’ and ‘activist’) support banning all forms of circumcision, or what they call ‘male genital cutting’ and claim circumcision is equivalent to female genital mutilation. The intactivist movement often features anti-Jewish imagery. An intactivist comic book called Foreskin Man portrays blond Aryan superheroes fighting mohels, who perform Jewish circumcision.
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