Hawley’s QAnon Questioning Of KBJ Is Part Of Broader GOP Radicalization

During the SCOTUS confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Senator Josh Hawley launched into a “QAnon-signaling smear." It's part of a bigger rot within the GOP.

I’m very sorry to inform you of this fact, but you will more than likely be called a pedophile by the American right-wing reactionary noise machine. It’s only a matter of time before it happens, even if you are a staunch conservative. Sooner or later, you’ll step out of line and think a totalitarian bill goes too far, betraying the principles of small and limited government you favor, and you will then be accused of raping and eating kids. That’s just all there’s to it.

That’s not playful hyperbole. As Senator, and insurrection enthusiast, Josh Hawley (R-MO) slanders Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson by accusing her of being too lenient on child porn offenders. This came despite the fact that her sentencing mirrored the vast majority of other judges, some of whom Hawley also voted to confirm. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also joined in on this line of questioning. The far-right conspiracy theorists who currently control the Republican Party are demanding that GOP politicians use this smear against any and every opponent, which is why a White House spokesman so accurately called Hawley’s line of questioning a “QAnon-signaling smear.”

Across the country, far-right groups are storming school board meetings to accuse teachers of either eating and raping children, or “grooming” them for elite pedophiles. Every disagreement with far-right bills that criminalize acknowledging that LGBTQ+ people exist is met with instant accusations of the dissenter being a pedophile who wants to teach children about sex in vile and graphic detail. And any skepticism about a culture war wedge issue that has a red state GOP assembly foaming at the mouth is met with — you guessed it — accusations of working for the Satanic cannibal pedophile cabal.

In short, if you don’t bow to the totalitarian agenda of the far-right, you must be a pedophile as per QAnon rules, no exceptions, no debate. Fans of South Park may recognize this as the same exact tactic the show’s narcissistic and sadistic bigoted little antagonist Eric Cartman employed to make himself the absolute ruler of the titular small town.

When Eric and his friends couldn’t go to a concert for adults, he recommended that they start accusing their parents of molesting them so they’d be arrested and taken away. Drunk on the subsequent freedom, he taught the rest of the town’s kids the same trick until every adult was jailed for sex crimes and every child was completely free and unsupervised. What was left of South Park then descended into an orgy of violence and human sacrifice as various factions of children battled each other for full control, but that’s only tangentially relevant here.

This is effectively what the GOP is trying to recreate, only with real people’s lives and futures in their hands. Let them do whatever they want or they smear you as a child predator because calling you an “extreme socialist” or “woke” has been so overused, the pejoratives are completely meaningless at this point, just the background fake moans in the gratuitously graphic fear porn accounting for the vast majority of the right-wing media ecosystem’s output.

Now, all it takes to be labeled a radical leftist is to say that hunting poor people for sport may be a tad much, monopolies are bad for innovation, and that billionaires shouldn’t buy laws. Are you even vaguely aware that racism exists all over the world and think this is bad? Congratulations, you’re now “terminally woke.” So, with their targets predictably laughing and rolling their eyes, the far-right decided to just label any and all dissent from its agendas child predation, just like Russia’s kleptocratic totalitarians when it feels its control is slipping.

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As always, the far-right will monstrously overplay its hand and be reminded that they ran an alleged pedophile for a Senate seat, refuse to discipline, much less expel a certain congressman being investigated for sex trafficking and paying for sex with minors, once chose a pedophile as Speaker of the House, and embraces the cultish QAnon conspiracy movement rife with its share of pedophile influencers. At some point, the accusations will hit such a degree of oversaturation, it will be dismissed, then mocked, then backfire as powerful conservative donors clean house, so livid at being frivolously accused of being child rapists, even promises of more tax cuts and deregulation won’t soothe their ire.

How do I know this? Because we’ve done this before with the Satanic Panic, the invention of con men looking for fame and fortune and based on ridiculous pseudoscience according to which hypnosis could retrieve “repressed memories,” which aren’t really a thing that exists. For years, everyone conservative white suburbanites and right-wing culture warriors didn’t like was accused of ritually raping and torturing children in bloody pentagrams as part of an evil global network of Satanists. You know, just like QAnon but without the digital scavenger hunt on a loli hentai message board and adrenochrome.

And much like the Satanic Panic never really ended, just shape-shifted as it faded from national consciousness after becoming too ridiculous to take seriously in the public eye, neither will the random, rapid-fire, widespread accusations of pedophilia from the far-right. Our only choice will be to frame and treat it as the end product of a dangerous, selfish, destructive pathology from a party of Eric Cartmans abusing the system to get their way by any means they deem necessary, not a legitimate argument from rational actors.

It’s simply not normal behavior to run around accusing all of your critics of child predation, cannibalism, and treason, especially when those critics are aghast at literal book burning and strong hints that those who seek power in the coming midterms want to forcibly breed married couples as if their would-be constituents are little more than livestock in their eyes, and think that legalizing interracial marriage nationwide was a mistake. It sounds downright insane if you’re a private citizen, and it should sound even more insane if you’re a journalist covering a major political party whose response to any pushback on their bills is to instantly scream “Satanic pedophile cannibal traitor commie scum!”

At some point, we just have to admit that we’ve put fundamentally bad people rotten to their cores in positions of power and influence they never deserved in the first place, and now, their fellow lost causes and terminally amoral fans and enablers are desperately trying to paint any criticism of them as tyranny, demanding that we provide them a permanent nationwide safe space to do and say whatever they wish with no debate, dissent, or consequences.

And we also have to acknowledge that to keep tolerating this state of affairs or pretend that anything about it is normal or should be tolerated, is utter lunacy. It’s long past time to start calling out genuine pathologies for what they are because the alternative is to backslide by decades at the whims of paranoiacs who poison their minds with a steady diet of escalating outrage and fear, lash out at friends, family, and neighbors, and return to their torrent of angry fantasies and conspiracies to find out why no one likes them anymore. America doesn’t need to be “made great again.” It needs therapy and mass media with a backbone.

Opinion // Josh Hawley / Ketanji Brown Jackson / QAnon / Republican Party / Supreme Court