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EYE ON ILLINOIS: Be wary of anyone claiming belief in outlandish Q conspiracy theory

Watch what you tweet – always.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, won her 14th Congressional District primary Tuesday, becoming a virtual lock to win in November. On top of anti-Muslim rhetoric and pro-gun ads deemed too provocative for Facebook, Greene also is a QAnon acolyte.

The Anti-Defamation League defines QAnon’s underlying theory: “Almost every president in recent American history up until Donald Trump has been a puppet put in place by a global elite of power brokers hell bent on enriching themselves and maintaining their Satanic child-murdering sex cult. Q is a reference to ‘Q clearance’ or ‘Q access authorization,’ terms used to describe a top-secret clearance level within the Department of Energy.”

The FBI classifies it as a domestic terror threat. Some followers have curious beliefs, such as that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death and soon will replace Mike Pence on the GOP ticket.

A Trump tweet congratulating Greene called her a “future Republican star … strong on everything,” prompting U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, to tweet: “Qanon is a fabrication. This ‘insider’ has predicted so much incorrectly (but people don’t remember PAST predictions), so now has switched to vague generalities. Could be Russian propaganda or a basement dweller. Regardless, no place in Congress for these conspiracies.”

Matt Wolking, the Trump campaign’s deputy communications director, asked when Kinzinger would “condemn the Steele Dossier fabrications and conspiracy theories pushed by Democrats? That actually WAS Russian propaganda.”

In June, I interviewed hometown friend Mike Rothschild, a fringe belief student who recently released his book, “The World’s Worst Conspiracies.” 

“A cursory look through the social media accounts of the biggest figures in QAnon reveals a constant stream of violent ideation, memes, fantasies and, at times, actual crimes,” Rothschild wrote. “In just the past few months, a QAnon follower took his five children on a high-speed car chase with police because he thought Q was talking to him through his radio, and a woman was arrested for trying to hire a posse of armed Q believers to kidnap her son in a custody dispute. These aren’t the actions of a peaceful movement of patriots.”

Acolytes will dismiss me and all “mainstream media,” but I’ve seen their posts and, like them, came to my own conclusion: They’re out for retribution (at best) or blood (at worst) and will not hear contrarian arguments.

“People can believe what they want as long as they aren’t hurting anyone,” Rothschild said, “but Q is a movement that ultimately believes in the extrajudicial and unconstitutional military tribunal and execution of ‘traitors.’ ”

The conspiracy is madness, but its believers must be taken as serious threats. Kinzinger is right to sound those alarms, and I urge caution regarding anyone who disagrees.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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