By David Futrelle
If I were a conspiracy theorist, it would be easy, oh so easy, to make the case that Donald Trump is preparing to launch a massive crackdown on civil liberties in order to protect himself and fellow Republicans from massive losses in the midterms next month.
All the “proof” I would need to make such a case is out there, hiding in plain sight, in the words of Trump himself, as well as those of his most fervent followers.
Yesterday, as anti-Kavanaugh protests swelled and angry rape survivors confronted GOP senators face to face, Trump tweeted out his endorsement of an age-old anti-Semitic accusation, claiming (without the slightest shred of evidence) that “the very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals” carrying suspiciously un-handmade signs “paid for by Soros and others.”
Other GOP bigwigs, including Senators Chuck Grassley and John Cornyn have made similar claims. And Trump’s own lawyer — the increasingly erratic Rudy Giuliani — has even suggested that Soros’ assets be frozen in retribution for his alleged support of the protesters.
Trump has long dreamed of criminalizing dissent — recently declaring that he thinks “it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters” — and since his election the GOP has been doing their best to oblige him, And so Trump’s reference to Soros-paid protesters in his tweet yesterday can’t be dismissed as Trumpian grumbling; it’s an attempt to portray those who disagree with him and his fellow Republicans as traitors working for some sinister “international” cabal.
Trump has not himself publicly endorsed martial law, of course, but his most fervent supporters haven’t been quite so circumspect.
Believers in the rabidly pro-Trump conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon — based on the fiction that Trump is a bold freedom-fighter working diligently behind the scenes to defeat a traitorous “Deep State” — think that Trump has been signalling for some time that he’s about to launch a massive crackdown on his domestic foes.
But Q Believers aren’t just posting “proof” of this Trump plan; they are indicating — to the world, and to Trump himself — that they would enthusiastically support what would basically amount to a Trumpian military coup.
Many Q Believers thought that Trump’s text alert test run last Wednesday — Trump sent out an innocuous text message to millions of Americans to test new Presidential Alert system designed to warn Americans of natural and other disasters — was part of the run-up to a real declaration of martial law. As The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer writes,
Believers in QAnon … think the text could mark the start of “The Storm,” a fantastical MAGA dream in which Trump’s political enemies will be arrested and tried at military tribunals.
“That is how we will receive orders if all else fails,” wrote one QAnon believer on the 8Chan internet forum. “We are the next generation Minutemen! Standing by Sir!”
“SO HAPPY!” wrote another. “THANK YOU 45!”
More than a few Q Believers seem to be taking this “Minuteman” talk literally, with some hoping that they — like the Minutemen of old — will get an opportunity to murder leftist “traitors” in a sort of Trump-endorsed purge.
Lock and Load pic.twitter.com/s9yAtvGYCd
— Mr Puma ن (@MrPuma2072) October 3, 2018
Never thought I’d be 😊 to hear about boots on the ground in 🇺🇸 #justiceiscoming
Martial Law, already enacted into readiness mode, may go full power for the purpose of keeping the peace while #massarrests occur
— Ms. M! – #fulldisclosure (@sheshifts001) October 5, 2018
Q Believers are even more excited by the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, suggesting that his presence on the supreme court will make it easier for Trump to get authorization for the military tribunals that are a central part of QAnon’s fantasy of retribution against the evil libs. This was a major Q talking point in the last several weeks:
It started… IT'S HERE!!!
The emergency text on 10/3
Kavanaugh will be in by 10/8
They will declassify FISA 10/25ish
Its the fall if the fall…
Arrests, Military tribunal -is gizmo ready?
The Red October will win! 11/6#POTUS45 #QAnon#Q#QArmy#FISA#DECLSS#RedWave https://t.co/HuKiCjpTsq
— WQ2 (@WQ262402470) October 4, 2018
'Americans who contribute with the enemy can be considered ‘enemy combatant’ and be processed on a Military Tribunal’ _ #Qanon, Lindsey Graham & Brett Kavanaugh Warn The Deep State: Gallows & GTMO for Traitors Is Coming! (VIDEO) > https://t.co/4f8kBxS1oN pic.twitter.com/Gb7fhR6BcM
— Drude (@druderadio) September 29, 2018
One Q Believer explained the logic in a blog post several days before the final confirmation vote today:
Why are the dems so afraid of Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court? abortion? partly, but the real reason, courtesy of #Qanon: the deep state hacks are terrified of facing military tribunals; Kavanaugh will be the court tie breaker allowing the tribunals to go forward. …
they are terrified because they know its game over; they know President Trump will immediately declass FISA, the indictments will begin to be unsealed, and the arrests will begin these monsters will not be able stall the criminal judicial system and bribe and buy their way out of criminal convictions; they will face justice via the military courts and quick sentencing…some will get life in prison, and some will get a swift execution for their treason.
(Thanks to intrepid Q-monitor Mike Rothschild (no, really) for highlighting this post on his blog.)
On Twitter today, Q Believers are giddy over Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Q primed the pump with a “Q Drop” promising “pain” to the alleged Deep Staters, (CW: Rape joke.)
— Mike Rothschild (@rothschildmd) October 5, 2018
Q Believers’ bloodthirsty glee over this allegedly impending “PAIN” is palpable.
— Juanma Almodóvar (@jmalmodovar) October 6, 2018
Anti trump pro demonrats called to demonstrate again #KavanaughConfirmation open societys are paid again by soros, to bash #Kavanaugh . but the Darkness will make a end for his own side, light will win again. Fuck all DemonRats thats a threat to the Soveraign planet mother earth!
— Qanon-DutchPatriots (@QDutchpatriots) October 6, 2018
Lets drink beer and have a gangbang to celebrate #ConfirmKavanaugh #MAGA #WINNING #Kavanaugh #KavanaughConfirmation #JusticeKavanaugh #WalkAway #Q #QArmy #QAnon #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #KeepAmericaGreat #RedWave #KAG #Trump2020 #GreatAwakening #SaturdayMotivation #MeToo
— Shane 🇺🇸 (@Skinner147) October 6, 2018
One Q Believer even managed to work in a reference to the artist Banksy.
As alarming as this all is, it’s worth remembering that QAnon and his or her supporters have been wrong in virtually every specific prediction; hell, while correctly predicting that Kavanaugh would be confirmed (not exactly a difficult thing to predict), QAnon was off on the vote total, an inconvenient fact that Q Believers are now trying hard to explain away.
But Trump — an authoritarian to his core — has been obsessed with “retribution” his entire life, and the midterms represent a massive challenge to his continued power. Making things even more dangerous, Trump is well aware that many if not most of his fans would support some sort of crackdown on liberals and the left — none more enthusiastically than the QAnon contingent.
I would love to be able to dismiss all this as conspiracist nonsense. But with an impulsive, conspiracy-minded authoritarian in the White House — and energetically supported by a veritable army of wannabe Minutemen online — I can’t.
We need to put as much energy as we can into the midterms — they’re ours to win. But we also need to be prepared in case Trump decides to interfere in them, or worse — as so many of his fans not-so-secretly desire. These are dark days for American democracy. I can only hope the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the Trump Train.
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