by Sydney Linholm
The article by Mark Scott for Politico discusses how the American conspiracy theory QAnon has made it’s way to Europe and settled within populist groups and conspiracy theorists such as the Yellow Jacket movement in France, the anti-vaccine community in Italy, and the Brexit followers in Britain. The author alleges that the reason for this embracing of QAnon both online and in these movements in Europe comes from the COVID-19 pandemic. And it’s true—the same people who participate in anti-lockdown protests across Europe are the ones who buy into QAnon theories about political leaders and secret government agendas.
With people spending so much more time online because of the pandemic, it’s easy for them to discover QAnon’s rhetoric and jump to the conclusion that COVID is a hoax and lockdown is just the new world order being pushed by crooked officials. QAnon is all about fighting against the elites: the basis for their theory is that Donald Trump was recruited by the U.S. Military to win a war against crooked democrats, and QAnon capitalized on those who already didn’t trust the government and bought into theories such as Pizzagate. The distrust of influential world leaders is what allowed them to gain such a strong following, and they take advantage of American fear.
While the movement is still small in Europe, it’s quickly spreading, and similar groups are emerging. QAnon has influenced things like Qactus.fr in France which promotes conspiracy theories about local politics, praises Trump, and supports the Yellow Jacket movement. In the Netherlands, QAnon has influenced social media accounts that support far-right politician Geert Wilders. In Britain, movements like “Citizens Unite UK #wakeup” borrow from QAnon’s theories and make allegations about secret pedophile rings, the global elite, and the government limiting their rights and freedoms through COVID lockdown. QAnon’s global reach was sped up by the pandemic and the conspiracies that emerged from it, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.