Ben Collins has seen a lot of bizarre shit in his time. As a senior reporter for NBC News, Collins’ specific coverage beat is extremism, disinformation, and the internet, which means he’s uncomfortably familiar with QAnon and the conspiracy theorists it/he attracts. But even Collins was blown away by just how many people took a pilgrimage to Dallas this week to try to witness the reemergence of JFK Jr. And by that we mean the “reemergence” that never happened because JFK Jr. died in a plane crash more than 20 years ago.
On Wednesday, as Raw Story reported, Collins chatted with Rachel Maddow about the events of this week, and how even he—seasoned witnesser of bizarre cultist behavior—was “shocked,” and more than a little disconcerted, by just how many people showed up in Texas. Maddow told Collins she had wanted to speak with him specifically because he has been so enmeshed in extremism culture through his reporting.
“It is easy to sort of point and drop your jaw and be agog at this,” Maddow said of the Dallas gathering. “But I feel like you’ve been smart about how these are our fellow Americans and these are people who are politically engaged in their own way and these folks are looking for something and believing they are finding it within these strains.” Collins agreed, but admitted that even he was “shocked about this, frankly. In the QAnon universe, this is like a denomination of it—this JFK, Jr. thing.”
But Collins also wanted to remind viewers “what QAnon is: It’s this idea that there’s this guy named Q who’s embedded in the government. He was saying that there’s this big, secret plan for Donald Trump to save the world from all these pedophiles. At the end of it, all these satanic pedophiles, who they believe are like Hillary Clinton… would be killed in the streets on live television. That’s why this is scary first of all, because all these people believe this. And all these people are hoping for it.”
According to Collins, back in December 2018, even Q “got kind of sick of his followers… He said, ‘Look, this is not true. The JFK, Jr. thing? He’s not alive. He’s not coming back.’” Q, in a rare moment of seeming sanity, also told his followers that the flat Earth theories were not true and that elections were safe. As a result, says Collins, a majority of QAnon followers “moved on to different kinds of conspiracy theories. But there is this one subset, this extremely religious subset, that has made Donald Trump basically a messiah in this space. And JFK Jr. as his ostensible running mate when he comes back to life.”
Collins noted that as most of these people have been thrown off of Facebook and Twitter, they’re using Telegram—a social media platform specifically for extremists—to essentially create “a religion in real time. And the scary thing is, even the people who think they’re nuts in the QAnon community, the end game is still there. The end game is still: Let’s go murder our enemies.”
Maddow summed it up when called this a “spooky and unsettling story.” You can watch the full interview above.
(Via Raw Story)