(Bloomberg) -- The House voted on a bipartisan basis condemn the loose collection of conspiracy theories known as QAnon, which has gained increasing political influence in a segment of the Republican base.
“Throughout history, conspiracy theories just like this one have fueled prejudice, terrorism and even genocide,” Representative Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat and the bill’s lead sponsor, said. “QAnon is like a pill that immunizes you against objective reality.”
The bill had three Republican co-sponsors: Representatives Denver Riggleman, Adam Kinzinger and Brian Fitzpatrick. It passed on a 371-18 vote.
QAnon emerged from the backwaters of the Internet in 2017 and has since made significant inroads into mainstream American politics. Some two dozen candidates who sought to get on the ballot for Congress this year having expressed belief in or support for QAnon, most of them running as Republicans. Two of those candidates won in heavily GOP districts and have good chances of getting elected to the House in November.
Adherents believe that Democratic politicians, celebrities and supposed members of a “deep state” bureaucracy are involved in a slew of practices involving cannibalism, pedophilia rings, Satanism and secret judicial proceedings. They believe that President Donald Trump is battling these forces for control of the government.
Trump has retweeted QAnon content on multiple occasions and, when asked about the conspiracy theory at a news conference on August 19, he said, “I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.”
Asked specifically if he is secretly battling a satanic cult of pedophiles -- as QAnon is supposedly doing -- the president said, “I haven’t heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? I mean, you know -- if I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.”
Riggleman, a former Air Force officer, said in August that his experience in the military informed his support for the measure.
“This type of behavior is easily condemned, condemned by all of us here in this chamber,” said Riggleman. “QAnon and the conspiracy theories it promotes are a danger and a treat that has no place in our country’s politics.”
Riggleman said that he thought Trump would publicly oppose QAnon’s spread “once the president is educated more on the QAnon movement.”
Lauren Boebert, a GOP candidate in Colorado, has said she hopes Q is real “because it only means America is getting stronger and better.” And Marjorie Taylor Greene, a candidate who won a competitive primary in Georgia, called Q in a 2017 video “a patriot” who is “on the same page as us” and “is very pro-Trump.”
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy had mostly stayed quiet about QAnon, declining, for instance, to comment on Greene while she was running in the primary election. But he said on Aug. 20 that “there is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party.”
The measure, House Resolution 1154, “Condemning QAnon and rejecting the conspiracy theories it promotes,” cites the propensity for conspiracy theories such as QAnon to incite people to violence and urges Americans “to engage in political debate from a common factual foundation.” It passed on a vote of 371 to 18, with one member voting “present.”
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