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QAnon Is the Latest American Conspiracy Theory

The rise of the right-wing paranoid fantasy, egged on by Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene, reflects deep currents in American politics.

America has a long history of conspiracy-theory-based movements that initially seem too unhinged to take seriously. But amid a wide-ranging distrust of traditional sources of public authority, they have come to acquire a perverse sort of legitimacy for a segment of the citizenry clinging to dogmatic skepticism of a hostile, faithless, and nonwhite social world. The pattern goes back to the nation’s founding: As historians like Bernard Bailyn have documented, the Revolutionary-era mindset of colonial revolt against the crown was steeped in lurid fantasies of the organized British defilement of Protestant virtue. Nineteenth-century anti-Catholic fantasies of libertine monks and priests sexually violating white Protestant women took root in anonymous pamphlets—the bygone equivalent of an Internet discussion board—before burgeoning into mass nativist political movements under the direction of the Anti-Masonic and Know-Nothing parties. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan himself, while no LaRouchite, was an enthusiast of end-times speculation and its signature theme of noble Protestant innocence besieged—a fact that the president’s advisers jealously guarded from the public at a point in Cold War hostilities when the genuine threat of nuclear apocalypse didn’t need a spiritual imprimatur from the leader of the free world.

Against this historical backdrop, QAnon’s apocalyptic fever dreams are less the disease than a symptom—one among countless recent augurs of severe democratic decline and fascist ascension in America. In a more immediate sense, QAnon is the digital offspring of the Tea Party movement and birtherism—militant, conspiracy-theory-steeped uprisings that began on the right fringe to similar choruses of dismissal from traditional political gatekeepers and steadily grew into mass mobilizations behind the Trump presidency.

Matthew Avery Sutton.

“The very first time I heard of QAnon, an academic colleague had pulled up a chart showing all these arrows and lines of influence, and I was amazed how similar it was to the apocalyptic charts from the late 19th-century millennial movements,” says Matthew Avery Sutton, a historian at Washington State University and the author of American Apocalypse, a landmark study of Protestant millennialism. Sutton notes that QAnon’s origins in the shitposting world of right-wing discussion boards call to mind other paranoid turns in the country’s past that drew on mass hatreds and religious bigotry to fuel their sense of millennial certainty: “There are parallels here with things like the Illuminati, the anti-Masonics, or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There have always been these things that are sort of secular but sort of not. They offer something secular people can buy into but religious people can also buy into. It works both ways.”

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The Nation

Denied, dispersed, disadvantaged: Chinook tribe pursues centuries-old fight for federal recognition

Sam Robinson, vice chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation, is “telling the story”

When Sam Robinson arrives at a public event in his distinctive cone-shaped Chinook hat to sing, play his drum and tell stories, what seems like a cultural, broadly spiritual moment is something else too: a political protest.

Vancouver resident Robinson, 66, is vice chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation. His frequent personal appearances aim to reunify and strengthen a tribe that’s been denied, disadvantaged and dispersed by government repression and intertribal competition for close to two centuries.

More than 100 Chinook tribal members and allies gathered outside the Marshall House on Vancouver’s Officers Row to press Congress to pass the Chinook Restoration Act, a law that would bestow federal recognition and start the process of establishing a Chinook reservation.

The Quinault Indian Nation has its own federally recognized reservation, but over the years, ongoing treaty negotiations also designated some Quinault land for several other tribes — first the Quileute, Queets and Hoh people, then later the Chehalis, Chinook and Cowlitz, according to Indian Country Today.

All of those other tribes, except the Chinook, have since succeeded in gaining federal recognition and establishing their own reservations. But Chinook land allotments and hunting and fishing rights on Quinault land remain in dispute. In 2018, Quinault officials said they still want the Chinook to waive any and all rights to their land.

Steven Fountain.

“The conflict, from the Quinault perspective, has … centered on tribal sovereignty, specifically whether non-Quinault tribal members can exert their hunting and fishing rights there,” said Steve Fountain, an assistant professor of history at Washington State University Vancouver. “In short, if the Chinook Nation is recognized, Quinaults argue that they will lose control of their own reservation lands and resources.”

The Columbian requested comment from the Quinault Indian Nation and received no reply.

“I think you will find it hard to get anyone to go on record who is directly involved in the opposition,” Fountain told The Columbian.

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The Columbian

How Jim Crow policies shaped the Tri-Cities

This is Part 1 of a two-part series connecting historical segregation policies to how minority groups struggle to get political representation today.

Segregation, red-lining, and sundown town policies in the 1940s through the 1960s shaped the Tri-Cities: Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland, Washington, according to a recent book by two history professors at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Jim Crow-era policies forced Black, Hispanic, and other racial minorities to live in East Pasco, preventing them from living anywhere else in the region, like in Kennewick, said Bob Bauman, a history professor at WSU Tri-Cities.

Robert Bauman.

“In Kennewick, African Americans were excluded completely by racially restricted covenants,” Bauman said. “Real estate prohibited anyone who was nonwhite from owning a home in Kennewick, and police would remove anyone who was nonwhite who was in Kennewick after sundown. There was a sort of term for these sorts of communities in different parts of the United States called sundown towns.”

Robert Franklin.

Bauman and Robert Franklin co-wrote the book “Echoes of Exclusion and Resistance: Voices from the Hanford Region.” Using oral histories, government documentation about segregation policies, and written witness accounts, the two WSU Tri-Cities professors studied segregation in the area.

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We the People: Iroquois Great Law of Peace, Mayflower Compact among works that may have influenced writing of Constitution

Each week, The Spokesman-Review examines one question from the Naturalization Test immigrants must pass to become United States citizens.

Today’s question: Many documents influenced the U.S. Constitution. Name one.

Written in 1787 and ratified a year later, the U.S. Constitution established the country’s federal government and is the oldest national constitution still in effect.

The Constitution has three main parts: the Preamble, seven articles and its amendments. Overall, it creates a foundation for the country, including establishing federalism, popular sovereignty, separation of power, and checks and balances. Several documents, notably the Articles of Confederation and the Federalist Papers, shaped how it was written, but there were also two documents that might have influenced it as well.

When looking for evidence of influence, historians look for text evidence like notes or letters from among those involved in the Constitution’s drafting. In the case of the Mayflower Compact, there is no direct written evidence that it had any influence while founders were drafting the Constitution.

Steven Fountain.

While teaching in class, Steven Fountain said it is easy to point at something that looks like democracy and say that is where the constitution came from, but that would not be true. Fountain, a history professor at Washington State University Vancouver, said his students are always shocked when they realize the Mayflower Compact was set to create a society by restricting rights rather than codifying inherent rights as the Constitution does.

The Mayflower Compact was an agreement that was based in the time it was written, Fountain said. At the time, the compact was noteworthy because it was a document agreed upon by the people rather than being imposed by the King of England.

But he said it is a stretch to say it was of any influence, especially because the pilgrims who created the compact were far gone by the time the Constitution was drafted over 150 years later.

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Forgotten project revived: History professor spearheads effort to recall, celebrate WSU students lost in World War II

In December 1941, the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In Pullman, at Washington State College, Ernest O. Holland was the school’s president and would be through 1945.

It was during those years Holland started gathering names and information about many of the college’s war dead, with plans to compile the information in a book.

With the end of the war, and Holland’s presidency, plans for the book were set aside and largely forgotten.

The records remained at Washington State University until 2017 when a history professor would pick them back up with a new goal.
Raymond Sun.

Raymond Sun, a WSU history professor, began a project to commemorate the school’s war dead from the 1940s. The project has taken the next five years and counting.

“I think it (Holland’s book) got lost in the shuffle and so I decided for a research project that I would create a digital archive or a digital memorial to honor the fallen servicemen,” Sun said.

The project got off the ground with about a dozen volunteers from Sun’s class on World War II, who combed through records to build a biography of each veteran.

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Lewiston Tribune