QAnon, Boogaloo Bois, and the current wave of protests
The threat is... really something
Help spring a deserving protestor from jail. Make a contribution to Pittsburgh Jailbreak: https://www.gofundme.com/f/aftercare-for
New episodes of Failed State Update:
Episode #7: The Battle of Pittsburgh (June 1, 2020)
Episode #8: Protest in the Age of Magickal Thinking (June 4, 2020)
My other podcast: The So-Called Prophet from Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has seen a non-stop series of street actions over the last week. The death of George Floyd was the spark, but the protests are obviously about much more than that. When I chose the name Failed State Update for this podcast, it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Little did I know!
The last few episodes of the podcast have looked at violence at protests, the threat of police repression of activists, and two truly bizarre right-wing social movements, QAnon and the Boogaloo Bois. As the unrest continues, groups like this will increasingly look for ways to take advantage of it to further their extreme agendas.
Marc-Andre Argentino is a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University in Montreal who studies how extremist groups use and leverage technology to create propaganda for recruitment, to inspire acts of violence, and the impact that these groups have on democratic institutions. Follow him on Twitter at: @4ngl3rf1sh
FAILED STATE UPDATE: Until recently, I haven't really taken QAnon seriously, because their claims are so absurd.
MARC-ANDRE ARGENTINO: That's the feeling that a lot of people have had, and that's how the reporting on them has been since they've come to the surface. It is a group that we need to pay attention to because they've shown not only to be an extremist threat, there's been a few instances of terrorism, kidnappings, one murder. And, you know, there is evidence that this is an ideology that can radicalize. But also we've seen that during the pandemic they've raised concerns as a public health threat. You know, they've made viral the movie the Plandemic, they promoted the drinking of bleach, alternative cures. There are different levels of harm. But ultimately, you know, if you're promoting alternative medicine, or that a global pandemic is a hoax, it means that certain proponents of a community will believe this and then go into their society and spread a virus, because that's the belief system they have adopted.
And then, let's not forget, there's also a threat to democratic institutions where, if a group like QAnon is so capable of running disinformation campaigns and getting hashtags, trending and spreading disinformation, it would be ignorant for people not to believe that foreign actors will not leverage this as a power to interfere in elections…
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