Earlier this year, we had ourselves a little fun at the expense of the “For God & Country Patriots Roundup” conference, the cowboy-themed QAnon truther hootenanny hosted at the (taxpayer-funded) Omni Hotel in Dallas, Texas. By all initial accounts, it did not disappoint... well, like, it definitely disappointed in the grander sense of how far we’ve collectively failed as an informed, rational society capable of withstanding even the most egregiously bad-faith, easily disprovable bullshit. But it was also still kind of entertaining to hear the latest “proof” of Hillary Clinton’s cannibalistic infanticide, if you can divorce yourself from how dangerous that line of thinking has become.
Which you totally shouldn’t, as longtime The A.V. Club favorite, Andrew Callaghan has (once again) excellently reminded everyone in his latest dispatch from Channel 5. In their newest episode, Callaghan and his intrepid team of Daily Show heir apparents bravely plopped down the $4000 ticket-and-hotel fee and ventured into the Patriots Roundup back in March to survey the state of QAnon truthers in 2021. The results? About as horrific and heartbreaking as one can imagine... and then some.
From the get-go, Callaghan and Channel 5 do an excellent job of reminding viewers just how painful Q’s weaponized, online-induced group psychosis is for everybody involved. There have been a myriad of stories and profiles centered on family members reeling from the loss of loved ones to the dark, never-ending QAnon rabbit hole of global cabals, MAGA savior complexes, and proto-fascistic patriotism. Few, however, have turned the camera on those buried deep in said rabbit hole.
“How does that make you feel?” Callaghan asks simply of his initial interviewee after the Q-believer recounts her family’s ridicule and estrangement. “Sad! I cry all the time. But I just keep praying. That’s all I do. I keep praying and asking God to open up their eyes,” she explains, while vowing that she can “never turn back, no matter how many family members I lose.”
Of course, there are many at the Patriots Roundup that illicit very little sympathy including: the guy who doesn’t think “the ‘Hitler situation’ was as bad as it was,” a steroid-fueled bodybuilder referring to COVID-19 masks as “face diapers,” the Jewish man comparing social media deplatforming to concentration camps. Humanizing the other side can only take one so far when the “other side” in question are truly detached from any semblance of reality.
“Where do you get your news from?” Callaghan inquires one woman attempting to raise awareness of Prince’s murder at the hands of Deep State agents just days before he planned to expose Hillary Clinton’s Satanism. “From a divine source, from God. We are a prophetic justice ministry,” the woman says of her small cadre, adding that Nipsey Hussle (also murdered for knowing too much, apparently) is one of her “spirit guides.” Another person near her ominously proclaims, “We have a voice. We are the news now.” You’ll get no argument from us there, unfortunately.
“We have to return to the oldest technology of all, which is one-on-one conversation,” the Holocaust-comparing Jewish man tells us earlier in the clip, a lovely idea so long as one side of that conversation isn’t the human equivalent of a brick wall covered in grotesque graffiti caricatures of George Soros and InfoWars stickers.
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