The pushback was swift— and bilateral.
On Saturday, I credited U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, for tweeting there is “no place in Congress” for conspiracies like the bizarre QAnon movement that has taken root in various corners of the internet and, unfortunately, among members of his party poised to win elections in November.
The first email came from a reader in Woodstock:
“I found your opinion hit piece on QAnon to be quite ironic. I especially thought the part where you emphasized that the FBI considers them a domestic terror threat a bit hypocritical.
“Over the past 60-plus days we have seen a real domestic terror organization in action; Black Lives Matter. Correct me if I am wrong, but I have not seen your opinion piece on them. Perhaps that is a future piece especially since they recently terrorized the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago.
“Just wondering if you have the courage and journalistic curiosity to write about a real terrorist organization.”
A reminder that QAnon acolytes, according to the Anti-Defamation League, believe in “a global elite of power brokers hell bent on enriching themselves and maintaining their Satanic child-murdering sex cult.” Black Lives Matter tenets cover a wide range, depending on who you ask, but not the deep-end lunacy underpinning the QAnon insanity.
It’s not inconsistent to say Kinzinger was right to denounce a conspiracy theory without then addressing a completely distinct movement. Why didn’t I also take issue with Al-Qaeda sleeper cells? Or the Atomwaffen Division? Animal Liberation Front? Furthermore, few who believe Americans can do more for racial equity support vandalism and looting, but everyone who swears allegiance to Q is supporting the execution of “traitors” based on a web of lies and misinformation.
The next email, from DeKalb, expressed disappointment because Kinzinger offered “a tepid response” that didn’t directly condemn President Trump or QAnon disciple Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican likely headed to Congress.
“It is my fervent wish that Mr. Kinzinger will be going back home to Channahon come Nov. 3,” this reader said. “I plan to do everything in my power to showcase Mr. Kinzinger's fealty to the morally, ethically and psychologically unfit occupant presently in the White House. … You give Mr. Kinzinger way too much credit for his response. It wasn't ‘alarming,’ it was weak and ineffectual. Which is pretty much par for the course with the congressman.”
Tweets rarely paint a complete picture. Kinzinger expounded in a Sunday YouTube post as well as weekend broadcast appearances, offering useful context.
For some, any criticism is too much. For others, little is strong enough. You choose where you stand, but here’s my firm ground: QAnon devotion is disturbing and dangerous, full stop.
• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at email@example.com.