The Question of QAnon: How deep do conspiracy theories run in NH politics?

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QAnon and Politics: What started as a fringe following has gone mainstream fueled by social media and proliferating hashtags.

Republican senatorial candidate Bryant “Corky” Messner and his advisors have been posting tweets with a hashtag that has been taken over by the QAnon movement, a group of conspiracy theorists who believe in easily debunked plots about the world being controlled by pedophiles.

Messner’s team did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. On Aug. 19, Messner posted a tweet about missing children, using the hashtag #SaveTheChildren, a well-known code among the QAnon set.

QAnon adherents use #SaveTheChildren as a signal to spread conspiracies, such as that the global cabal of elites, Hollywood liberals, and prominent politicians are running a child sex-trafficking ring in order to obtain the blood of children. The QAnon adherents believe that the cabal of elites extract a life-prolonging drug from the blood of children who have been sexually abused.

While human trafficking is a serious concern, critics of QAnon say the adherents will swarm legitimate child protection agencies with fake calls about conspiracy theories, like a recent panic QAnon started over false claims that furniture seller Wayfair was engaged in human trafficking. Polaris, a non-profit dedicated to ending human trafficking, recently issued a statement that its hotline to help actual victims was being swamped with QAnon callers.

“While Polaris treats all calls to the Trafficking Hotline seriously, the extreme volume of these contacts has made it more difficult for the Trafficking Hotline to provide support and attention to others who are in need of help,” the statement read.

A recent New York Times article details how the #SaveTheChildren hashtag started out as a legitimate part of a fundraiser to help a children’s charity, but soon became swamped with QAnon adherents using it to spread tales of Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and Pope Francis as being part of the pedophie elite.

QAnon believers think there is a highly placed government official sending out cryptic messages about the plot to control the world. They claim Q, President Donald Trump and John F. Kennedy Jr., will come to the rescue of the children taken by the “elites.”

Kennedy Jr. died in a 1999 plane crash, though QAnon adherents believe he is actually in hiding.

The QAnon theories often veer into blatant anti-Semitism, with adherents claiming that Jewish people are behind the plot. Mary Ann Mendoza, who was scheduled to address the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, was removed from the lineup after her QAnon tweets became public. Mendoza retweeted an anti-Semitic Twitter rant and ordered her followers to investigate the supposed Jewish plot to enslave the world.

Donald Bolduc, left, and Corky Messner. are vying to be the Republican nominee who will challenge Jeanne Shaheen in the 2020 U.S. Senate race. Messner and his advisors have used hashtags on social media that are linked to the QAnon movement and Bolduc confirmed his belief that Microsoft magnate Bill Gates aims to plant microchips in vaccines to control the population, another QAnon theory.

Though it is largely an Internet phenomenon, the FBI has listed QAnon as presenting a possible terrorist threat, and there have been instances of QAnon believers acting violently in real life, such as the armed QAnon adherent Edgar Maddison Welch who barged into Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C., in 2016 to save children from the “elites” sex dungeon in Comet Ping Pong’s basement. That restaurant does not have a basement.

In June 2018, Matthew Wright blocked traffic by parking his vehicle on the Hoover Dam in order to advance the QAnon theories. Wright had guns and 900 rounds of ammunition.

In an Aug. 19 press conference, Trump appeared to encourage QAnon when asked about the group’s support. For his administration.

“I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” Trump said

New Hampshire’s Corey Lewandowski defended Trump despite the FBI warning about the group while appearing on the Jack Heath radio show. Lewandowski is Trump’s former campaign manager and a frequent media surrogate for the administration.

“Just because the FBI says something doesn’t necessarily make it true,” Lewandowski said on Heath’s show.

Messner’s opponent in the primary race, Don Bolduc, did not respond to a request for comment. He has stated in a previous Manchester Ink Link interview his belief that Microsoft founder Bill Gates plans to implant microchips in vaccines in order to control people, another common QAnon conspiracy theory.