Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A dead man walks into Dealey Plaza. His father, a dead president, also reappears in the world for a week, alongside his dead wife, to anoint Donald Trump as either the king of kings—the Messiah, Christ himself—or one of seven kings mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The dead president then departs this terrestrial plane, leaving behind his dead son to serve as vice president to King Trump, or Trump the Christ. The dead president and his dead son were both Democrats, but apparently they returned from the grave so they could support the Republican leader.
This week, hundreds of QAnon supporters gathered in Dallas in anticipation of just that scenario. They reportedly expected President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to appear on Tuesday at the site of his 1963 assassination to ordain Donald Trump the king of kings. They believe that John F. Kennedy Jr. did not die in 1999 but has been in hiding in order to fight the deep state. Moreover, some of them believe that JFK Jr. may be “Q”—or may be one of the two potential QAnon influencers touted as being him—and that he will emerge (if he hasn’t already) to run as Trump’s vice presidential candidate in 2024.
Here’s a snippet of the crowd from Tuesday; you can see the “X” painted on the road where JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald:
Hundreds pack Dealey Plaza in Dallas in anticipation of return of JFK Jr. Conspiracy theorists in crowd tell me he’s expected to announce he’s running for office alongside Donald Trump. ETA was just before 12:30pm @WBAP247NEWS @570KLIF pic.twitter.com/4j0ITjRbYa
— Clayton Neville (@ClaytonNeville) November 2, 2021
Here’s one of the attendees explaining what brought her to Dallas:
A QAnon follower explains why she’s in Dallas today. She believes JFK wasn’t assassinated, and the 104-year-old former president is going to help usher in a Trump/JFK Jr. Administration. pic.twitter.com/Xl3PhgayLc
— Michael Williams (@michaeldamianw) November 2, 2021
There’s a lot to unpack here. For starters, we could analyze the obsession with dead celebrities coming back to life. It’s not just JFK père et fils; the QAnon crowd is apparently “seeing” other dead celebrities, such as Robin Williams, Dale Earnhardt, and Michael Jackson. On some level, there may be a deep connection—psychological, social, spiritual—between these sightings and our continued inability to collectively grieve over how much we have lost in the last two years. But given the lines where QAnon and evangelical Christianity blur, this mythic return from the dead to presage the glorious coming of the Kingdom of Trump is also an apocalyptic prophecy, in line with QAnon’s ultimately eschatological focus.
One of the many QAnon users who promoted the Dallas event goes by “WhipLash347” on Telegram, where he or she has 262,000 subscribers. WhipLash347 has posted extensively about JFK, JFK Jr., and ever more bizarre conspiracies about JFK’s secret lineage. The user seems to be focused on the idea that JFK himself was the secret descendant of Abraham Lincoln who was himself a descendant of Druze descendants of the line of Davidic Kings, going back to Jethro, Priest of Midian from the Book of Exodus, and that Lincoln’s two sons who died did not in fact die but moved to Libya. Somehow, Elvis Presley (speaking of sightings of dead people), Donald Trump, and Julian Assange are all related to Lincoln and JFK, too.
It will not make more sense when you read it again.
WhipLash347’s posts veered into prophecy: “John F. Kennedy Jr. is coming to Declassify EVERYTHING! JFK Jr. said he’d even take down the Government to expose those who killed his father.” “Trump Reinstated as 19th [sic] President calls up a new Vice President JFK Junior as everything from 1871 was illegal an unconstitutional.” Then came the prediction that Trump would take what we might call, for want of a better word, a promotion:
John will become President like he would of if it wasn’t for Killary plotting to kill him.
He will then call up General Flynn as his Vice.
Trump will become 1 of the 7 new Kings. Most likely the King Of Kings.
7 Presidential Msgs to all phones on EARTH.
This is a particularly weird theological grab bag—a detour through Sovereign Citizen theory (the reference to 1871), some weird political QAnon ideas (how well do you think the undead JFK Jr.-Michael Flynn ticket would poll?), and then some Revelation 17:10: “Also, they are seven kings, of whom five have fallen, one is living, and the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain only a little while.”
It is all sad and weird—and hilariously contradictory in its pick-a-passage-at-random Biblical illiteracy. The line in Revelation about the seven kings is generally understood to be a description not of Christ but of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that “Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations,” rides upon. In the Middle Ages, this passage was used to describe enemies of Christianity, as when the twelfth-century Italian theologian and Biblical commentator Joachim of Fiore presented Saladin as the sixth head of the Beast, a the precursor to the Antichrist. If Trump were one of the seven kings, that would make him not the Messiah but something more like the Antichrist. Yet the notion of Trump as the “King of kings” draws on language taken from elsewhere in the Bible, including Revelation 19:16, where it describes the Rider on the White Horse: “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.’” However mockable—the Trump-as-Napoleon-on-his-white-horse meme comes to mind—Trump’s elevation is a central QAnon idea.
QAnon has always used prophetic and Biblical language, clothing itself in the trappings of a patriotic, Christian, ultranationalist American rhetoric while advocating murder, a “wolf in wolf’s clothing,” to quote Bonnie Kristian. What’s so strange and interesting here is that all the wildness of these claims—the revived JFK and his son, the apocalyptic language—is in service of that most boring of ideas: the Big Lie that Trump is rightly president and will be restored to that office by extralegal means. At least until he steps back from so limited a position to take on his next big role.
Tuesday’s crowd in Dallas was drawn by QAnon’s inversion of the norms of society and reason: Losing means winning, immortality means morality, dead means alive, man means God, the internet is secretly reality. Trump is the Messiah because a dead man will return to proclaim him so? Sure, why not? It’s one of the more bizarre claims of QAnon, but probably not the most.
JFK Jr., of course, did not appear. At 12:29 p.m., the crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance, but even that incantation did not bring the dead Democrat son of a dead Democratic president back from the grave to anoint Trump the Messiah. The crowd slowly drifted away, dampened by the Dallas rain.
Yet the power of QAnon, of course, is that every setback, every failed prophecy, every bizarre idea that does not deliver, has little or no effect on believers. Q is silent. The apocalypse has once again not come. JFK Jr. is still dead (or, for QAnon adherents, in hiding). And Trump is still not president. But this week’s failed prophecy will be replaced with a new one. The prophecy never fails, its adherents just have to work harder to understand—through numerology, through ever more intensive study of old Q-Drops, through new gatherings, through violence—and the rest of us just watch on in horror.