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Another day ending in -y, another Danish media “explainer” piece to help ensure the perpetual befuddlement of Denmark on all things American.

This time it’s my old employer, the ostensibly “borgerlig” Berlingske. “FBI, coronavirus og kongresmedlemmer: Sådan vokser konspirationsteorierne i USA.” 

It caught my eye because I thought someone at Berlingske was on the ball.  Was there finally a Danish outlet explaining how the accusations of “Russian collusion” (etc) against Trump have not only been incontrovertibly proven false, but proven to have been part of a secret and concerted effort by the Obama administration and Clinton campaign to use federal law enforcement and intelligence against a domestic political opponent?

I’m still so naïve after all these years!

The Berlingske piece is about a conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory.  It’s about people freaking out over the crazy conspiracy theory that a tiny little movement of crazies who embrace a crazy conspiracy theory of their own are a terrifying threat to democracy.

You can read all about the dread QAnon conspiracy in the article if you have some time to kill, but first let’s put it in some perspective.

QAnon is supposedly a right-wing group. But twice as many “liberals” (remember, in America that’s left) as conservatives have even heard of QAnon.

Why the crazy imbalance? The answer isn’t as complicated as you might think.

Six in ten people who have heard about QAnon get most of their news from the New York Times, and a higher share of Times readers (7%) say they’ve heard or read a lot about QAnon than that of any other outlet.

Furthermore, “Democrats who trust the media are roughly twice as likely as Republicans who trust the media to say they’ve heard or read something about QAnon (29% vs. 13%).”

These are pretty much the findings you’d expect if there was some obscure little splinter group of tin-foil conservatives embracing a stupid conspiracy that the leftist media decided to pump up with coverage as part of their ongoing campaign to discredit conservatism generally.

As you can see, the Pew survey is from a few months back, so those numbers have probably changed — not because QAnon is a massive and growing threat to democracy but because the hysterical leftists of American establishment media have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell conspiracies about the right.

The “hook” for this story is the recent Tweet by General Michael Flynn of a video in which he’s leading friends and family in taking an oath. Here’s how CNN characterizes it:

In the video, Flynn leads a small group in reciting a generic oath of office, the same oath taken by members of Congress. After finishing the oath, Flynn says, “Where we go one, we go all!”

Here’s how that same information is represented in the Berlingske piece (emphasis mine): “I en video på Twitter, ser man Michael Flynn og fem andre foran et bål, mens de med hånden for hjertet sværger troskab til bevægelsen.”

Apparently, you see, “Where we go one, we go all!” is the QAnon motto, and to say it is to pledge your loyalty to them, or it… or him:

(Some familiarity with Star Trek TNG required.)

The salient part of America’s “generic oath of office,” by the way, is: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Even adding “Where we go one, we go all” to that, it’s hard to see the fuss.

Did you know that Alexander Dumas pére, author of The Three Musketeers, ran guns for Garibaldi? So any time you hear the phrase “All for one and one for all,” the speaker is actually secretly communicating their support for the overthrow of… oh, come on, it’s too ridiculous.

From that hook, the authors promise “Berlingske er dykket ned i kaninhullet for at finde ud af, hvad QAnon-følgerne tror på og vigtigere endnu: Hvorfor?”

Their dive into the rabbit hole consists of citations from the following sources:

  • The hysterically leftwing website “Media Matters.”
  • A bulletin from the Phoenix office of the FBI citing concerns about a possible increase in violence motivated by conspiracy theories (which bulletin cites nine incidents from a six-year period, not all of which are explicitly tied to QAnon).
  • An interview with American Travis View, who hosts a podcast (QAnon Anonymous: “The QAnon Anonymous Pod chops & screws the best conspiracy theories of the post-truth era”), who seems to have a good sense of proportion and a sense of humor.
  • Marc-André Argentino, a Canadian academic who studies extremist groups’ use of social media and sees parallels between how QAnon and Islamic State use them.
  • Nobody else.

I’m no journalist (he said superfluously), but if I were, and if I were doing a story on the Vegan menace, I would want to hear from at least one Vegan.

If I were doing a story on the growing threat of Swedish Unitarians, I’d probably want a word or two with at least one Unitarian Swede.

And so on.

I’d want to ask them what they thought, and why they thought it. Just to give my article at least an illusion of being something like journalism.

Now, don’t misunderstand me: QAnon sounds completely Loony Tunes. And for all I know they are indeed a growing danger.

But go ahead and do a deep dive into the rabbit hole of current events in America. Survey the riots, the destruction, the arson, the violence. There seems to be another group out there with a potential for violence that’s being actualized before our very eyes on a daily basis… maybe they’re worth a look? Maybe we should prioritize actual violence over the threat of eventual violence with respect to our attention? Especially when the organization at the top embraces the most violent ideology in human history?

In the case of the current violence, however, we get nothing but fawning pieces on their “mostly peaceful” nature that only occasionally “intensifies:”

I don’t want to spend more time on this, but there’s one more thing: the source.

The byline of the Berlingske article attributes authorship to Selin Türker and Thomas Aagaard.

Selin Türker is a good example of a left-wing propagandist employed by a purportedly “borgerlig” paper.  Don’t take my word for it, have a look at her Twitter feed.  Her co-author Thomas Aagard’s feed seems reasonable enough when he’s writing about his primary beat of Lebanon, but his American coverage suffers from the same childish Manichaeism as that of Türker: right bad, left good.  (That I trust Aagard’s Lebanese coverage to be fair is a good example of the Gell-Mann amnesia effect.)

I’ll leave it at that because a Povl Høj article just caught my eye and sent my blood pressure through the roof…