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BOOK REVIEW: The Storm is Upon Us by Mike Rothschild

| 14 August 2021 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: The Storm is Upon Us by Mike Rothschild

Monoray | Hachette Australia
June 2021
Paperback $32.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Non-Fiction / Politics / Internet Culture

95% Rocking


In 2017, President Trump made a cryptic remark at a gathering of military officials, describing it as ‘the calm before the storm’-then refused to explain himself to puzzled journalists. But on internet message boards, a mysterious poster called ‘Q Clearance Patriot’ began an elaboration all of their own.

Q’s wild yarn hinted at a vast conspiracy that satisfied the deepest desires of MAGA-America. None of Q’s predictions came to pass. But did that stop people from clinging to every word, expanding Q’s mythology, and promoting it ever more widely? No.

Conspiracy culture expert Mike Rothschild is uniquely equipped to explain QAnon, from the cults that first fed into it, to its embrace by Trump and the right-wing media. With families torn apart and with the Capitol under attack, he argues that mocking the madness of QAnon will get us nowhere. Instead, he argues that QAnon tells us everything we need to know about global fear after Trump-and that we need to understand it now, because it’s not going away.



In one post-inauguration story, HuffPost spoke to nine children whose parents had been radicalized by QAnon. They told harrowing stories ranging from tales of parents sucked in via the Iraqi dinar and NESARA scams to that of a woman so ensconced in Q-driven COVID-19 denial that she wore a fishnet mask full of holes to the funeral of her own mother – who had died of COVID-19.

As bizarre as the Q movement might seem to many of us, chances are that you know someone who believes it. Friends, family, that person you went to school with or worked with, and they might have seemed sensible, you might not have thought they’d ever be the sort of person to fall into that sort of cult-like movement. You’ve likely had at least one baffling conversation where you tried to make them see sense, and they just danced around in circles, refusing to see your logic for what it was. 

I don’t debate conspiracy theory believers because as a skeptic and researcher, I’m beholden to the truth, while the conspiracy believer can use anything they want to in their argument. This should be your approach with QAnon. Attempting to debunk or fact-check QAnon to get someone out of QAnon will only send you down an endless path of knocking down every argument or half-baked Q proof they come up with.

Q, being a movement based around the righting of perceived wrongs, giving people who feel powerless a tangible enemy to rally against, and talk of the next “event” with vague figures that can be gestured at as proof at a later date, is a movement of shifting goalposts and intentional deception. And yet, the followers are loyal and see the rest of us as sheep, buying into the lies of the deep state, just waiting to have our eyes opened at the time of The Great Awakening.

Some of the things QAnon believers have touted, often as a result of their own “decoding” of Secret Agent Q’s “drops”:

  • The voting machines in the 2020 US election had been hacked with China being partially responsible.
  • Trump had really won the election, and efforts to decertify the vote had legal merit that would eventually pay off. 
  • Trump didn’t lose because he ran a poor campaign – he lost because of the conspiracy of a corrupt cabal to keep him from power. 
  • Trump would be installed as president for life.
  • Trump would remain president, and command the government from behind the scenes #shadowpresident
  • Liberals and traitors would be hanged.
  • Trump had won massively, Biden would never take office, and the corruption would be so obvious that Biden would concede and present himself for execution.
  • The media was corrupt and the Democrats were Satanic but the Trump administration’s bumbling and leaking were all just for show.
  • A “storm” of mass arrests and executions would sweep corruption, child molesters, and liberals out of government forever.
  • Barack Obama was a secretly gay Muslim usurper/Muslim sleeper agent.
  • Democrats, Hollywood elite, business tycoons, wealthy liberals, the medical establishment, celebrities, and the mass media are the bad guys.
  • Hillary Clinton is a blood-drinking ghoul who murders everyone in her way.
  • There are tunnels leading in and out of Comet Ping Pong’s basement, through which children are trafficked for sex slavery or blood rituals, and which is discussed in top-secret “pedo code”, in which young girls are “pizza” and young boys are “hot dogs”
  • A laptop owned by Anthony Weiner was discovered and said to be so full of sex abuse images so horrible that the NYPD members who saw them immediately killed themselves.
  • When James Comey tweeted about the death of his dog Benji in early November 2018, he was really signalling to the world that George H. W. Busy would be executed two weeks later.
  • There is a massive transcontinental network of elite Jewish pedophiles drinking the blood of hundreds of thousands of children to stay young.
  • A person doesn’t get cancer because of some randomly misfiring cells – they get it because of chemtrails or 5G Internet or microchips poisoning them. 
  • The COVID pandemic had been cooked up by “Big Pharma” as a hoax to make sure Donald Trump didn’t win a second term in 2020.
  • COVID was a planned genocide by the Jewish cabal draining “adrenocrhome” from trafficked children.
  • Bill Gates patented the COVID-19.
  • The virus was actually spread by the mysterious 5G internet towers.
  • Miracle Mineral Solution, Hydroxychloroquine, and Ivermectin are the miracle cures for the virus that THEY are trying to keep secret from us, despite studies being carried out that show they don’t help COVID sufferers in any substantive way.
  • Anything that seems to paint Q as a violent movement (such as Q followers taking decoding of Q’s messages to heart before having a breakdown and doing something violent) is a “false-flag”.
  • Sometimes Q’s intel would be wrong, and it was all part of the plan. “Disinformation is necessary.”

The list goes on and on, thus rendering Q a “movement, cult, and conspiracy theory of everything.”

QAnon is a cultish movement that’s not quite a cult, a movement with prophetic elements that’s not quite a religion,and a recipient of Russian boosting that’s entirely American. And despite being descended from long-running frauds, it’s not really a scam.Q’s creators and exploiters have evaded any kind of legal jeopardy for exactly this reason – it’s not illegal to pretend to be a prophet or digital warrior online, as long as you aren’t promising financial returns or specifically exhorting people to commit crimes.

Many of these arguments over what QAnon actually is – is it a psyop or not, is it a cult or not, is it a game or not? – depending on the profession of the person making the argument. Cult experts tend to see Q as a cult. Game experts tend to see Q as a game. Cybersecurity experts tend to see Q as a cybersecurity issue. But Q believers see it as a plan to save the world – a plan being carried out by Donald Trump, his handpicked advisors, and his millions of digital soldiers.

No one knows who started QAnon (except the original poster), no one knows who made the subsequent posts (except the subsequent poster), studies of the text (Q’s drops) have concluded that several people were posting as Q across its four years of activity.

Whatever Q was meant to be (likely an Alternate Reality Game), it’s clear to see it became too popular for its original creators, too popular to stop, and too tantalising to a society stuck in COVID isolation. Q seems to be gone for now, with no new posts in over 6 months, but who knows if or when it might come back. 

The book is conversational, easy to understand, and offers helpful suggestions to implement if wanting to try save your loved-ones from Q. There are a few typos and errors throughout, and it could have used another pass for proofreading, but ultimately the errors don’t get in the way of what is a well-researched and put-together book.

It’s a marketing grift that doesn’t do enough to be effective as either marketing or grift. It’s very slippery to pin down, but also fairly easy to understand.

Forewarned is forearmed. 

Category: Book Reviews

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