Republicans Are Playing a Risky Game in Elevating QAnon

The same people who want to cancel Liz Cheney are willing to defend Marjorie Taylor Greene

Warning: Disturbing stuff ahead.

There’s a conspiracy theory called Frazzledrip. Even for QAnon types, it’s pretty fringe, which is saying something. Recall that the central belief in Q-world is that there’s a secret cabal of Satan-worshiping, sex-trafficking pedophiles running the government.

Frazzledrip is worse. It’s the name of an imagined video of a young girl on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop in a folder labeled “life insurance.” According to Vice, the nonexistent video shows Hillary Clinton filleting off the young girl’s face. Clinton and former aide Huma Abedin, Weiner’s ex-wife, take turns wearing the girl’s face as a mask to terrify the child so her blood is suffused with adrenochrome. They drink her blood as part of a satanic ritual.

Oh, Frazzledrip also believes Clinton murdered New York City police officers who saw the video and covered up their deaths as suicides.

You don’t have to be a Clinton fan—I’m certainly not—to recognize this garbage as evil and insane. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon-friendly Republican representative from Georgia, disagrees. She endorsed the theory on her Facebook page in 2018.

Greene has spread other wicked stuff: Mass school shootings were “false flag” operations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should be shot for treason, etc.

And yet, to listen to some Republicans, it would be too divisive to excommunicate Greene or other QAnon-aligned Republicans because the party must “unify.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy plans to have a “conversation” with Greene. He’s under pressure to at least take her off the House Education and Labor Committee, but some Republicans fear he won’t even go that far because, Politico reports, “Greene represents an energetic wing of the party and he’ll feel he can’t afford to risk punishing one of Trump’s favored office-holders.”

The Hawaii GOP recently tweeted out support for QAnon, saying it was “largely motivated by a sincere and deep love for America.” When newly elected Utah Rep. Burgess Owens appeared on a QAnon streaming site earlier this year, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson responded to criticism by noting that his opponent appeared on “Russia conspiracy network MSNBC.”

Meanwhile, these same people think real heretics in need of canceling are Rep. Liz Cheney and nine other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, a man who reportedly said in a meeting that QAnon just believes in “good government.” Various state parties have moved to censure Cheney and others for supporting impeachment.

So, in the name of fighting “cancel culture,” Republicans who condemned a president who tried to topple the Constitution to hold power must now be canceled, yet Republicans who think Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of children must not be canceled—or even criticized—in the name of conscience.

Indeed, QAnon is being recast into a kind of oppressed religious minority with an inalienable right to its beliefs, and any attempt to curtail it would put America on a slippery slope to tyranny.

Tucker Carlson, a prime-time host at Fox News (where I’m a contributor), recently ran a long montage of pundits—not politicians—fretting over QAnon’s influence. After mocking them for making such a fuss, Carlson declared: “There’s a clear line between democracy and tyranny, between self-government and dictatorship. And here’s what that line is. That line is your conscience. They cannot cross that.”

“Government has every right to tell you what to do,” Carlson said, citing laws against rape, murder, and jaywalking. But, he insisted, “No democratic government can ever tell you what to think. Your mind belongs to you. It is yours and yours alone. ... Once politicians attempt to control what you believe, they are no longer politicians. They are by definition dictators. And if they succeed in controlling what you believe you are no longer a citizen, you are not a free man, you are a slave.”

This is all nonsense.

Sure, the government can police behavior like rape and murder. But it doesn’t have “every right” to tell you what to do. See the Bill of Rights—or, for that matter, conservative objections to the individual health care mandate.

Sure, government can’t make you violate your conscience (though if your conscience says you should rape or murder, you’re out of luck). But government can—and should—try to make you believe some things. It should try to convince you that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and necessary. It can tell you the correct date of Election Day.

This isn’t dictatorial by any definition. It’s telling the truth, and truth-telling is supposed to be the first obligation of both politicians and pundits, because democracy doesn’t work without the truth. And neither will the GOP.