- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden described the QAnon conspiracy theory as “mortifying” and “dangerous,” and suggested its followers should seek mental health treatment.
- “I’ve been a big supporter of mental health,” Biden said at a Friday campaign event in Delaware, as first reported by Politico. “I’d recommend the people who believe it maybe should take advantage, while it still exists, of the Affordable Care Act.”
- QAnon began as a fringe conspiracy theory floated on internet message boards but has recently become a staple of mainstream Republican politics.
- Multiple Republican congressional candidates who have voiced support for it are poised to pick up House seats this year, and President Trump himself praised QAnon followers from the White House last month.
- Some avid QAnon supporters have been arrested and charged with violent crimes, and the FBI described the baseless conspiracy theory as a domestic terrorism threat.
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday described the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory as “dangerous” and “embarrassing,” and suggested that its followers seek mental health treatment.
“I’ve been a big supporter of mental health,” Biden said at a campaign event in Delaware, as first reported by Politico. “I’d recommend the people who believe it maybe should take advantage, while it still exists, of the Affordable Care Act.”
He continued: “What in God’s name are we doing? Look at how it makes us look around the world. It’s mortifying, it’s embarrassing, and it’s dangerous. If the president doesn’t know better, which he has to know better, then my lord, we’re in much more trouble than I ever thought we were.”
“This can’t go on,” Biden added. “This cannot go on. It’s the deconstruction of our democratic system.”
The QAnon conspiracy posits that the world is run by a Satanic cabal of pedophiles and elites intent on bringing down Donald Trump’s presidency.
It alleges, among other things, that the former special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and other top Democrats who opposed Trump; and that the so-called American “deep state” tried to shoot down Air Force One before Trump’s summit in North Korea last year.
There is no evidence suggesting the conspiracy theory holds merit, and the FBI described it — and other fringe conspiracy theories — as a domestic terrorism threat in an intelligence bulletin last year.
“The FBI assesses anti-government, identity based, and fringe political conspiracy theories very likely motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to commit criminal and sometimes violent activity,” the document said. “The FBI further assesses in some cases these conspiracy theories very likely encourage the targeting of specific people, places, and organizations, thereby increasing the likelihood of violence against these targets.”
Some QAnon followers have been arrested and charged with violent crimes. In one case, a QAnon supporter was charged with murder over the death of a New York mafia boss last year. Another conspiracist was arrested earlier this year on suspicion of threatening to murder Biden.
QAnon began as a fringe theory on internet message boards like 4chan and 8chan but has made it into mainstream Republican politics in recent months. At least two Republican congressional candidates who have explicitly voiced support for the conspiracy are poised to pick up House seats in November, and Trump himself praised its followers from the White House podium last month.
“These are people who love our country,” the president said. When a reporter explained that the group claimed Trump was “secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals,” the president refused to disavow the theory and said he was, in fact, saving the world.
“We’re saving the world from a radical-left philosophy that will destroy this country. And when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow. The rest of the world would follow,” Trump said.