Not merely rhetorical violence, though that’s important. QAnon is violence in its ideology, in its end goal, and in its imagination: the “Storm,” a military coup where Donald Trump defeats the so-called “Deep State” and arrests and executes their opponents in something very much akin to the white supremacist Turner Diaries’ Day of the Rope. We saw it on January 6, when coup plotters erected a makeshift gallows and shouted “Hang Mike Pence.” That blood lust hasn’t gone anywhere, even if some humorous headlines about dissension in the Q ranks is distracting attention from the underlying bloodlust at the heart of the movement.
QAnon has been in the news because two of its biggest figures, Lin Wood and Michael Flynn, are at war with each other. As a result, QAnon influencers have been forced to pick sides and engage in endless recriminations. QAnon John, whose “For God and Country Patriot Roundup” is one of several major QAnon traveling conventions, issued a statement of Telegram that, “It has become incredibly EXHAUSTING now that not only do we have to war with the obvious Deep State players, but now we also have to speak out against some incognito questionable actors on our side. I’ll let your discernment guide you, hopefully you are in tune to the Holy Spirit. … Believe me, I wish it didn’t have to be this way, and that we were all ‘one big happy family’ fighting for the same things, but NO.”
While John may have hopes of unity, other QAnon influencers think that the solution for in-fighting is direct action against their enemies.
Romana Didulo, who called herself the QAnon “Queen of Canada,” called on her 70,000 Telegram followers on November 21 to murder healthcare workers, writing, “Shoot to kill anyone who tries to inject Children under the age of 19 years old with Coronavirus19 vaccines/ bioweapons or any other Vaccines. This order is effective immediately.” She changed that to arrest two days later, but not because she doesn’t want these “traitors” dead: “Please, use airports, hospitals, schools, stadiums, and other public venues to hold and detain all traitors. They will stay there until Military Tribunal is held for each one of them until the day they are executed via firing squad or hanging.”
This is, of course, the heart of QAnon—mass executions—but calling on her followers to actively begin the process is not an everyday occurrence; one wonders how the self-proclaimed “Queen of Canada’s” followers will respond to her arrest.
Another mid-level QAnoner, Jarrin Jackson, posted a video calling for the formation of an unorganized militia on November 30th, essentially calling for the same things as Didulo but with more plausible deniability. He said:
The militia is congregated self-preservation, and so if you have the ability to congregate with people and peaceably assemble with them and if you have the ability to conduct self-preservation opportunities and activities … hmm … you put self-preservation together with the ability to assemble and you have an unorganized militia. You put those two things together and you and your neighbors defending your property, and let’s just say that your militia is organized around this specific idea that the government is tyrannical and abusive. Any militia that’s unorganized that’s organized along the premise and that conducts training and operations and actually goes through the motions of making sure the government does not abuse you on your property … you have the right to defend the Constitution by force.
But he has also posted to his 117,000 Telegram subscribers things like, “What do you do to your enemies?” with a picture of a dog lying down on top of a dog skull, and ends a number of posts with, “Now, go to war.”
Still, he is subtler than the people in the “SqvageDawg” Telegram, around 500 of whom listened and contributed to a discussion on November 28th about the Wood-Flynn fight. Over 50 minutes was spent attempting to figure out what was going on between Wood and Flynn and what their split meant for the future of the movement. Then the chat got more serious: some discussed the American Revolution and the three percenter theory, and one caller suggested organizing small local “strike teams” to do something now. Lin Wood, on his Telegram feed, had numerous fans commenting on “a rope would be cheaper than bullets,” posting links to execution by firing squads with fans promoting that as the fate of “all these evils who [sic] against humanity,” and other similar examples.
The newfound need to murder their enemies sooner rather than later is an attempt to create unity. Joe Oltmann, a mid-level QAnon influencer, called on Q acolytes via Telegram on November 28th to cease fighting amongst themselves, saying “We have to stop the chaos and stand on one of either side. The side of ‘we need more’ and the side of ‘build the gallows’. I’m not going to take a side on the American movement. I’m going to stand in the gap on the side of ‘build the gallows’. I want the fights to stop, but I also understand I am my own man as they are. They will figure it out or they won’t.”
He does not mean this metaphorically: “Build the gallows” is the end point of QAnon. The next day he wrote, “Good morning … grab your coffee … we don’t negotiate with terrorists. The radical left are terrorists. … Organize, walk door to door. Much like in 1776, we need to show them we are a nation with a voice and the courage to protect it.” Most charitably, he is advocating militia building and intimidation, but again, the reference to “build the gallows” is QAnon doctrine. Suspended New Mexico State University assistant professor of finance David Clements, who posts on Telegram as The Professor’s Record, took up this same point on December 2, writing, “Joe knows we have everything necessary to arrest, prosecute, and dispense justice to traitors now.” One of his fans followed that up with wondering why they don’t just start making citizen arrests now? Another Telegram user suggested, “Build the gallows and then put them to use executing 500 per hour accoss [sic] the nation would get rid of a lot of our problems in less than a year!!” Those unable to attend personally need not worry, as suggestions were made that they broadcast executions during a primetime pay-per-view.
Joe reinforced this on December 5th, writing, “You don’t like that I want to hang traitors to our nation? Sorry, not sorry. Men, women and children have died, suffered unimaginable pain and anguish at the hands of those who stole our voice and installed an illegitimate government.” Not only did his 55,000 Telegram subscribers see it, but Lin Wood transmitted it to his 750,000 Telegram subscribers. That’s a substantial audience for a call for murder.
This rhetorical violence is not new. But it is always worth highlighting, especially as these discussions have migrated away from more visible platforms like Twitter. These are not niche Telegram channels; these are mid-level to upper-level QAnon influencers, with audiences in the high five figures and low six figures. And the rhetoric has shifted temporal focus, from “trusting the plan” to “auditing the election” to “form a militia” to “shoot healthcare workers” and “build gallows now.” We are used to QAnon being a lot of talk, and therefore less dangerous than the Patriot militia movement or any of the more aggressive white supremacist movements. Atomwaffen or Oathkeepers, whose ideology starts from violent overthrow, remain more likely to engage in actual violence.
But this sort of accelerationist rhetoric is finding an audience. QAnon incited Matthew Taylor Coleman to murder his children. The FBI warned the government this summer that QAnoners might engage in violence when predictions fail to materialize. And however much we as a nation are choosing to ignore the coup attempt on January 6th, the active attempt to overthrow the government and murder members of Congress and the Vice President, QAnon ties are a common factor among participants.
The gallows they set up outside the Capitol may have been poorly constructed, but it was heartfelt—and QAnon’s bloodlust, far from diminishing, just gets stronger.