“I’m sorry, I don’t follow. What is this ‘4D chess’ you say I’m playing?” (Photo: Win McNamee/ Getty Images)

It’s a curious thing that the same alt-right scumbags who scream about “facts” and “fake news” are many of the same people bellowing about unsubstantiated conspiracy theories propagated on forums like Reddit and, especially, 4chan. In the same way that Republicans bent over backwards to justify voting for an alleged child predator, others have resorted to conjuring elaborate fictions that prove, once and for all, that Democrats are pedophiles and Donald Trump is both good and right.

The latest, and most labyrinthian, story to squint at is “The Storm,” a catch-all name for the theories sprouting up around Q, an anonymous 4chan user who claims to be a “high-level government insider with Q clearance.” Q says he’s tasked with posting intel directly to 4chan to inform “the people” (if that’s what we want to call the gathering of neo-Nazis and misogynists that populate 4chan’s /pol/ thread) about Trump’s overarching plan to “stage a countercoup against members of the deep state.” Look, the lunacy here goes deeper than we can comprehend; thankfully, New York’s Paris Martineau has compiled a helpful primer.

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Of particular note is Q’s explanation for the appointment of Robert Mueller and the investigation into Russia’s collusion with the Trump campaign, which, surprise, is actually all about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In this scenario, Mueller is actually Team Trump, and the ding-dong who needs two hands to drink a bottle of water is actually running a long con to bring down the “globalists.” Also, the Las Vegas massacre was an inside job. 

Martineau writes:

According to Q, Trump was never really involved with Russia, and isn’t actually under investigation by Mueller & Co. On the contrary, Q insists that it’s actually Clinton and Obama who were corrupted by Putin (and are now actually under investigation by Mueller) because they’re obviously just evil, money-hungry globalists who’ll do anything for the highest bidder. (Oh, yeah, and they’re also apparently into raping and killing children, though the crowd is split over whether this is because they’re satanists or just part of some weird blackmail scheme involving the CIA.) Q also claims that Trump, the genius that he is, figured all of this out way back when he was just a measly presidential candidate, and has been pretending to love Putin and/or be involved with Russia ever since as a way to force a third party to investigate these horrors — without drawing the attention of those evil Dems-who-must-not-be-named, of course — because he’s just that selfless of a leader.

In this fantasy world, all of the far right’s wildest dreams come true: Q promises that Clinton, Obama, Podesta, Abedin, and even McCain are all either arrested and wearing secret police-issued ankle monitors, or just about to be indicted; that the Steele dossier is a total fabrication personally paid for by Clinton and Obama; and that the Las Vegas massacre was most definitely an inside job connected to the Saudi-Clinton cabal.

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Despite the mental gymnastics it takes to not only find logic in this but also to believe that Q is actually who they say they are, the Storm theory is spreading quickly. Martineau writes of the numerous texts, charts, and YouTube videos outlining the conspiracy, as well as the steady rise of the #QAnon hashtag on Twitter, all of which you can dig into yourself if you want to go insane.

All of which—the circa-2016 partisan conspiracy, the pedophilia, the elaborate deep state paranoia, and the spread among listless 4chan trolls—makes this sound a lot like Pizzagate. Hopefully things don’t go as far as that one did.