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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Opinion

Questioning information is great but developing conspiracy theories is dangerous


Juana Garcia/The Cougar

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

It’s OK to question what we’re told. We should always question authority so that we can make sure we’re getting the right information and hold media companies and politicians accountable. 

However, when we start questioning things, we need to be careful to not fall into any harmful conspiracy theories. 

Pizzagate and QAnon show that we need to be careful not to believe theories that have no proof, are anti-Semitic and just cause problems rather than find solutions. 

The Pizzagate theory started in 2016 when Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager’s emails were leaked. A specific conversation with James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant, was leaked about hosting a fundraiser for Clinton. 

Users of an anonymous messaging board, 4Chan, then started a rumor that the Clintons and members of the Democratic Party were involved in a child trafficking ring headquartered at this pizzeria.

One aspect of this theory included that code words used in emails such as “pizza” and “cheese” were code words for illegal behavior. 

There are no testimonies or physical evidence. This theory emerged from random 4Chan users simply speculating on things that have nothing to do with child trafficking such as pictures Alefantis posted on instagram of his goddaughter or overly analyzing the art in the restaurant.

There’s no real evidence and yet the theory has reemerged this year, now with the conspiracy theory QAnon. 

The theory has evolved, now including Hollywood celebrities with Democrats lumping them together as the “global elite.”

QAnon also believes that this global elite harvest these trafficked children’s blood and use it to prolong their life in satanic rituals.

Of course, we shouldn’t believe this theory because there is no proof. But we should also take a look at QAnon and see what it is.

The QAnon theory sees Trump as a hero fighting the global elite that supposedly traffic these children. 

They tend to only focus on theories of politically left people being pedophiles, despite the evidence that Trump and other conservatives were close with Epstein, just like the Clintons were. So this theory is clearly politically biased. 

The QAnon narrative also carries the idea that world rulers take orders from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fake document that attempted to make it look like Jews wanted to run the world, an age old anti-Semitic conspiracy. 

People talking about the “global elite,” when talking about QAnon, are usually using it as a dog whistle for Jewish people. This is, of course, insanely anti-Semitic.

There have been some major consequences of people believing this theory. In December 2016, a man showed up at theWashington pizzeria and fired his rifle. Thankfully nobody was harmed. The man claimed that he showed up to investigate the trafficking ring.

In 2019, a man came into the restaurant and committed arson, setting a curtain on fire. 

Pizzagate also detracts from actual issues of sex trafficking that exist. These crazy stories are more exciting, so they take up more space in the media talking about supposed sex trafficking than the actual sex trafficking happening around you in your own neighborhood. 

QAnon has co-opted the hashtag #SaveOurChildren to spread its theories that, in reality, have no basis. 

Many people don’t know about QAnon’s racist origins or have even heard of Pizzagate, but they care about children and boom they’re hooked onto nonsense theories. 

And of course, since QAnon is anti-Semitic, believing in these theories, even if you don’t believe in their hateful and racist foundations, still is supporting anti-Semitism and normalizing it in political discourse. 

QAnon appeals to people’s fears by giving them an explanation as to why things are bad in the world. Its bad because a group of global elite are doing satanic rituals and sex trafficking kids in a Washington pizzeria. 

The proof to gain popularity is not needed because QAnon appeals to these people’s fears, not their sense of logic. 

QAnon isn’t the only harmful conspiracy theory out there but it’s a good example of why we can’t immediately go believe in something that satisfies our need to have answers. 

When you see a theory, research it, and try to figure out if there is any physical evidence, any witness testimony or any proof in general. Also research if its anti-Semitic, because unfortunately, a lot of conspiracy theories are.

It’s OK to question things, but don’t feed into theories with no factual basis that only cause harm.

Anna Baker is an English junior who can be reached at [email protected]

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