The â€œnocturnal ritual fantasyâ€â€”a term coined by the historian Norman Cohn in his landmark study of European witch trials, Europeâ€™s Inner Demonsâ€”is a recurring trope in Western history. And it is often a politically useful one. Deployed by the Romans against early Christians, by Christians against Jews, by Christians against witches, by Catholics against â€œheretics,â€ it is a malleable set of accusations that posit that a social out-group is engaged in perverse, ritualistic behaviors that target innocentsâ€”and that the out-group and all its enablers must be crushed.
…Q adherents are perfervid Trump supporters by necessity, as Trumpâ€™s valiant battle against ultimate evil forms the spine from which the many limbs of the conspiracy grow. But a recent wave of Ã©migrÃ©s into the Q landscape consists of New Age moms and influencers with previously vaguer politics, whose interests, during the strained days of the Covid-19 pandemic, have migrated from crystals and wellness to taking down a world-straddling cabal of demonic pedophiles.
The section on the “satanic panic” of the 1980s is particularly apt.
It was gospel belief in the media and among ordinary citizens that rings of sex abusers were everywhere. Satan and his blood-drinking minions were peripheral players, but the panic is usually referred to now, through the mocking lens of self-assurance, as the â€œSatanic Panic.â€ We in the twenty-first century could never be so naÃ¯ve.