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Friday, April 16, 2021

Explained: Why is March 4 significant for QAnon supporters?

Last year, the FBI said fringe political conspiracy theories including QAnon are a domestic threat and likely to “motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to engage in criminal or violent activity”.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
March 4, 2021 6:11:20 pm
Rioters storm the Capitol, in Washington. (AP Photo: John Minchillo, File)

Some of former US President Donald Trump’s followers, who believe in the QAnon conspiracy, think that he will return to power on March 4. As per some media reports, US Capitol Police believe that the group may be plotting to breach the Capitol again, following the events of January 6, when an armed mob of Trump supporters clashed with the police.

Last year, the FBI said fringe political conspiracy theories including QAnon are a domestic threat and likely to “motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to engage in criminal or violent activity”.

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What is QAnon?

QAnon is a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that took shape around 2017 when an anonymous user called “Q” or “Q Clearance Patriot” started posting conspiracy theories. “Q” refers to a security clearance given by the US Department of Energy for access to top-secret information. Q, who claims to be a high-ranking intelligence officer with access to sensitive information of the Trump administration, started posting on the platform 4chan in 2017, and now posts on 8kun, a website run by the founders of 8chan (which was shut down after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas in 2019 — the killers had posted hate content on 8chan). It is not clear if Q is a single user.

The followers of this movement believe that the world is being run by a cabal of paedophiles who worship Satan and that one of Trump’s aims as US President is to unmask the cabal and punish them. According to the conspiracy theorists, Trump is secretly preparing for a day of reckoning, “The Storm”, when members of the “deep state” will be executed. This theory had been gaining traction among some far-right voters ahead of the November 3 presidential election.

The conspiracy theorists believe that Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and Hollywood actors Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey, are part of a global child sex-trafficking ring. This takes off from the “Pizzagate” theory, long debunked, which circulated during the 2016 presidential election. Far-right activists had claimed that Clinton was running a child trafficking racket from the basement of a pizza parlour in Washington, DC.

March 4 was the official day for presidential inaugurations until 1933, when the 20th Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified. Since this ratification, the inauguration has been held on January 20. In 1933, the 20th Amendment, also referred to as the Lame Duck Amendment, moved the inauguration day from March 4 to January 20 and the first meeting of the new Congress to January 3.

This was because due to technological advancements, a shorter time period was required to count, tabulate and report votes and travel to the capital. On January 20, 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the first US president to be sworn into office in January.

What is the significance of March 4 for QAnon supporters?

Until January 20, the supporters of the conspiracy believed that January 20 would be the day of reckoning, when Trump who they believe will unmask the cabal will take charge once again. But after Biden was successfully sworn in, the idea lost steam and instead March 4 was thought to be the new day of reckoning.

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