Surely the most sensational part of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory is that there is, as congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene puts it, a “global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles” that has permeated our government. Permeated? Yes! “They say as many as one third of our government is involved in this,” according to Mrs. Greene.
This little series of posts about how to tell if someone on the internet is lying to you is based on Mrs. Greene’s 2017 video on Q and Q-Anon. She deleted the video once she was running for congress, but not before the good folks at the Internet Archive had saved a copy. My transcript is here.
This is how she introduces the topic:
I mean, is it going to be true that the child pedophilia in the elites, in the Washington, D.C. .—is that what we’re really going to see come out? Is it true – is the type of corruption we’re going to see come out, is it going to be Satanic worship that possibly all these people are involved in? I mean, we already saw that there was an email [that] came out of the Wikileaks emails where — was it Cheryl Mills? — and she told Hillary Clinton in an email that she was going to sacrifice a chicken to Moloch in her back yard? Who says that kind of stuff? Like, nobody says that. But that was proof right there that there’s possible Satanic worship, and maybe that all these scary things that people talk about on what’s considered conspiracy sites and conspiracy theories really may be true.
It may sound as if Marjorie Taylor Greene is hedging (“Is it true…?” “possible Satanic worship”) but a few minutes later her opinion becomes very clear even as, again, she starts by equivocating:
So many of our government, according to Q – now I’m saying according to Q – again, I don’t have any proof of this, but we’re talking about “Who is Q?” so I’m going to tell you about what he says – according to him, many in our government are actively worshipping Satan. Or they call, Moloch. Now remember I told you that there was an email that came out of the Wikilieaks emails that flat-out said – Cheryl Mills said to Hillary Clinton, “I’m going to sacrifice a chicken in my back yard to Moloch.” If that’s not evidence that there’s Satan worship in our government, and if Hillary Clinton was not involved in it, then why would someone that is involved in worshipping Satan – why would they tell Hillary that in an email? I mean, if someone told me that in an email, I would freak out and tell everybody what they said. So Hillary Clinton is obviously involved too, because Cheryl Mills wouldn’t have told her that, right?
Finally, about two-thirds of the way through the video, she can no longer contain herself:
There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it. And so I’m very excited about that.
So here we are, trying to decide whether there’s any truth to this. Setting aside the over-the-top lunacy of this particular conspiracy theory, how are we to decide whether to trust what the congresswoman-elect is telling us?
Mrs. Greene herself gives us the most obvious clue. She flat-out says, “I don’t have any proof of this” and then, just two sentences later she more or less says, “If that’s not evidence, what is?” and winds up by touting Trump’s re-election as a “once-in-a lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles out.” In other words, it’s clear that Mrs. Greene is the sort to be totally taken in by an unproven conspiracy theory. Would you want to trust someone like that?
An only slightly less obvious clue is available to anyone who knows how to use Google. The only scrap of evidence that Mrs. Greene presents is the “email that came out of the Wikileaks emails that flat-out said — Cheryl Mills said to Hillary Clinton, ‘I’m going to sacrifice a chicken in my back yard to Moloch.'” This may not be her only piece of evidence, but it’s evidently her best one because it’s what she chose to present on her 29-minute video. How well does it hold up?
Well, just as the internet is destroying our lives with misinformation, it is saving them with the ability to find the truth. With only a little effort, I was able to find the email she refers to. As you follow that link and read it for yourself, you will notice two things:
The email that mentions Moloch was not from Cheryl Mills. It was from one Lewis Amselem, forwarded by Craig Kelly to Cheryl Mills, and from Cheryl Mills to Hillary Clinton. Yet, Marjorie Taylor Greene reports this as “Cheryl Mills said to Hillary Clinton…'” Either Mrs. Greene didn’t read the email for herself, or she didn’t read it carefully. Either way, it shows that she is casual about the facts.
Second, nowhere in the chain of forwarding does anyone bat an eye at the part about Moloch. It goes totally without comment. It is utterly ignored. Why might that be? Because it was a freakin’ joke, people! The email is about diplomatic efforts and is filled with phrases such as “If, if, if, if the news is positive…” and “expressed cautious optimism.” In that context, it closes with “With fingers crossed, the old rabbit’s foot out of the box in the attic, I will be sacrificing a chicken in the backyard to Moloch…” The Moloch bit is literally in the same sentence as crossed fingers and an old rabbit’s foot. These are expressions many of us use to mean that we’re hoping for a favorable outcome; we don’t actually believe in these things. My mother used to say, “Knock on wood” and then rap her knuckles on her own head. Did she believe her head was made of wood? (Joe Biden did the same thing in a presidential debate!) Clearly sacrificing a chicken to Moloch was intended to be taken in the same tongue-in-cheek spirit.
When someone says, “I don’t have any proof” of an idea and then proceeds to foist that same idea on you, when they have clearly not done proper fact-checking, and when they can’t even tell the difference between a figure of speech and a statement meant to be taken literally, run the other way.