Dispatches From Q-Land is a monthly Paste series delving into the seamy underbelly of the QAnon conspiracy theory on right-wing social media platforms such as Parler, Gab and Telegram. It’s a disturbing task, but only by paying attention to these dangerous extremists can we understand the nature of their ever-evolving delusion at any given moment, and hope to understand what they might do next.
This Thanksgiving weekend, as the rest of America was sitting down to turkey dinners, almost the entire QAnon sphere of influencers, grifters and lunatics were simultaneously sharpening their knives … to deploy on each other. As if determined to spite the season of goodwill as thoroughly and ironically as possible, what started out as a simple Tucker Carlson interview has snowballed into a full-fledged civil war that is dividing the Q-sphere into warring camps, leaving the average Anon (a believer in the broad and ever-evolving suite of QAnon conspiracy theories) completely unsure of what they’re supposed to believe, or who they’re supposed to support. It’s the kind of drastic schism that has been waiting to happen for a long time, and it’s honestly amazing that it didn’t happen sooner—this is a community that is absolutely built to go to war with itself at the drop of a hat.
That’s the thing about Anons—they exist in a state that is always on edge, and always ready to go on the attack. The online life of your average Anon prepares them to always be ready to change their beliefs at a moment’s notice, at least when it comes to attacking someone they’ve previously supported. On any given day, their activities involve espousing 110% rabid, fervent devotion to the constellation of various political figures and influencers who exist vaguely in the orbit of Donald Trump … until the day they’re inevitably called upon to suddenly start demonizing and destroying those same people because they’ve now fallen out of favor. Usually, though, it’s just a single name caught up in a public stoning. This new conflict is much broader and more devastating, which is all deeply confusing for Anons.
At its heart, this new QAnon civil war really comes down to the following dichotomy: It’s the profiteers vs. the evangelical true believer loonies. The battle lines don’t completely match up along those lines, but they’re quite close. This fight is essentially seeing the most diehard, zealous and genuinely deluded Q personalities turning against the ones who are primarily using the QAnon rhetoric for political or economic purposes, without actually believing in it.
And it all started with FOX pundit Tucker Carlson, AR-15 wielder Kyle Rittenhouse and disgraced attorney Lin Wood.
QAnon Grifters vs. True Believers
The fracas all began with FOX pundit/inveterate provocateur and asshole Tucker Carlson’s interview with acquitted gunman Kyle Rittenhouse. During said interview, Rittenhouse at one point turned his attention toward ardent Donald Trump defender/QAnon figurehead/embattled lawyer Lin Wood, who was one of the first attorneys to represent him following the incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin in which Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and wounded a third. Rittenhouse told Carlson that he and his mother Wendy Rittenhouse fired Wood in December of 2020 after deciding that Kyle was “being used for a cause,” and after Rittenhouse had sat in jail for 87 days following his arrest, despite the millions of dollars raised for his bail and defense.
Rittenhouse went on to say the following about Wood: “He was going on with all this QAnon and election fraud stuff, and just stuff we don’t agree with. He’s insane. He thinks he’s God and he just says all these weird things.”
Rittenhouse went on to not-so-subtly imply that Wood had mismanaged and potentially misappropriated funds raised for his bail and legal defense, telling the teen to stay in jail where it would be “safer.” Wood has subsequently blamed another organizer, Dave Hancock, saying that it was this guy who is to blame for how the bail money was handled, despite Rittenhouse and co. saying the opposite. Wood had allegedly come to blows with Hancock last year, culminating in him allegedly pulling a gun on him.
These statements by Rittenhouse were a starting gun, giving some of the more clever politicians and influencer players on the fringes of a the Q-sphere an opportunity to go on the attack against Wood by siding with Rittenhouse, presumably something they’d wanted to do for quite a while (more on this shortly). Those who immediately unleashed statements against Lin Wood included the likes of FOX host Dan Bongino, former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, former Overstock.com creator and election fraud conspiracist Patrick Byrne, PizzaGate promoter Jack Posobiec and persistent congressional disgrace Marjorie Taylor Greene, who tweeted the following.
Lin Wood, meanwhile, being an angry person determined to lash out at literally anyone who naysays him, has spent the last five days or so in an apoplectic rage, firing off dozens or hundreds of posts via his profile on the encrypted messaging site Telegram, where he has more than 760,000 followers. In these posts, Wood has breathlessly gone on the attack against anyone who lined up against him, while vociferously praising anyone who defends him—standard influencer behavior.
Perhaps fittingly, every one of these exchanges tends to be damaging for literally everyone involved. Representative Greene, for instance, talks shit about Wood, and Wood then counters with claims that he’s still owed money for work he did for Greene’s campaign. This itself sends up red flags and suggests that Greene’s campaign may have violated campaign finance law, which would be funny if it wasn’t so stupid.
Perhaps the most deeply shaking rift that emerged in this fight, however, was Lin Wood turning against none other than the Donald Trump-pardoned former general Michael Flynn, one of the biggest QAnon figureheads of them all, and a man that a fair number of Anons have believed at various points could be the source of the “Q drops” to begin with. When Flynn refused to come to Wood’s defense against his various critics, Wood lost his mind and began yet another string of accusations toward Flynn, saying at various points that Flynn was a grifter, a Deep State operative, a Democrat spy, and a Satanist who recited “occult prayers” during his paid speaking engagements. To attack Flynn, Wood even released secretly recorded phone calls he’d recorded of himself speaking with various members of these circles, including Patrick Byrne and Flynn himself.
In doing so, Wood has laid bare one of the biggest ideological schisms that has always existed within the far-right, QAnon/conspiracy theory world, which is the gulf between those who actually believe any of this stuff, and those who are just pretending to believe it for political clout/profit.
A Primer on the Frightening Zeal of Lin Wood
Disgraced attorney Lin Wood wasn’t always a deranged, far-right online commentator. He was once a respected lawyer, particularly in the wake of his representation of Richard Jewell, the security guard who was falsely accused in the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing of 1996. During the years of the Trump presidency, however, it would seem as if Wood suffered some kind of mental decline, increasingly veering toward an obsession with evangelical Christianity and fundamentalism, which he connected with his support of Trump. The intensity of his political and religious focus has reportedly alienated him from his own family, and his questionable work as a lawyer has resulted in numerous instances of legal jeopardy. As a result, Wood has existed in a constant, embattled state for several years now.
It was during this time that Wood became involved in representing Donald Trump via various election fraud lawsuits filed on his behalf, alongside fellow legal charlatans such as Sidney Powell. As a result of these ultimately frivolous lawsuits, the state bar of Georgia is investigating “whether Wood violated multiple professional conduct rules after the election, as he brought multiple lawsuits challenging the presidential election results and spread baseless conspiracy theories online.” Wood has repeatedly refused to undergo mental health evaluation, and the state has subsequently started the process to potentially disbar him in what was his home state. Wood has since moved to South Carolina, almost as if he didn’t want to continue living in the state where he had become a legal laughingstock.
Lin Wood in 2019, before his life revolved entirely around legal drama in the orbit of Donald Trump.
Here’s the thing about Lin Wood, though: He’s a genuine believer in a lot of things. He’s a TRUE BELIEVER, who is genuinely obsessed with both Christianity and Donald Trump, and he seems to believe that he was chosen by God to carry out these various tasks. In the past, that has meant heaping praise on most of all the other people in the QAnon sphere, where Wood was revered for his fealty to Trump. But when those people stop praising Wood, his own obsession compels him to believe that it must mean all of the other Q-sphere figures are either Satanists, grifters or Deep State agents in disguise.
As a result, Wood’s Telegram account has just become an extremely prolific, rambling exercise in paranoid delusion, as the disgraced attorney lashes out at all his former allies and assumes that everyone is trying to destroy him. I don’t even follow Wood’s Telegram account with any regularity, and I’ve still observed the following:
— Wood frequently seems to record his telephone conversations, so he can then release audio he believes is damaging to various other QAnon figures if they don’t support him.
— On several occasions, he’s implied that he believes his children don’t communicate with him anymore because they’ve somehow been poisoned against him, threatened or compromised by the nefarious Deep State, rather than the reality that they simply don’t recognize the deeply disturbed man he’s become.
— Wood routinely siccs his massive audience on his enemies, or doxxes them in some way, only to then say it was accidental. When he was presumably feeling bad about his lack of contact with his family, he doxxed his own son, sharing his email address and telling his followers to reach out to his son in the name of Jesus. This weekend, he went on to doxx Michael Flynn’s brother Joseph Flynn by sharing the man’s personal phone number via Telegram, allowing his 760,000 followers to lash out. He then called it a “mistake,” despite the damage already being done.
It should go without saying that Wood is devious enough to know that he can call down attacks on his enemies this way, while simultaneously absolving himself of responsibility. He insults his enemies online, throws accusations at them with zero evidence, and then follows up those accusations with bullshit like the following: “My faith instructs me to forgive Hancock and to love him even though he is my enemy. I know who the real enemy is. So I will pray for David Hancock.”
The importance of the Christian aspect cannot be overstated here. On some level, this is one of the most important fault lines that runs through the Q-sphere. On the Anti-Lin Wood side of the spectrum are a number of figures such as Michael Flynn and Patrick Byrne who are, for instance, Catholic. These are political players who seem to recognize the political value of Christianity when it comes to pandering/taking advantage of the masses, but these aren’t men who are driven by revelatory delusions of Christian grandeur.
Wood, on the other hand, is. The people he’s drawn into his circle of defenders, including “My Pillow” spokesman Mike Lindell, or notable Q influencers such as John Sabal, aka “QAnon John,” cling tightly to an aura of Christian doomsday prophecy and rapturous thinking. Guys like Lin Wood are by no means opposed to making lots and lots of money off the MAGA masses, but they also genuinely believe at least some aspects of the BS they’re spouting, and the constant allusions to Armageddon and biblical apocalypse. This always SHOULD HAVE put them philosophically at odds with the more purely cynical profiteers in the QAnon world, but the likes of Wood have typically kept themselves purposely blind to that profiteering and grifting, in order to sustain their own delusions.
Michael Flynn and the Grifters
The big irony here is that Lin Wood is absolutely, 100% correct when he calls someone like Michael Flynn a lying grifter, because that’s exactly what the man is. And that also describes the network of far-right figures who have come to his defense, including the likes of Bongino, Posobiec, Gorka, Byrne and Marjorie Taylor Greene. These are the professional conmen of the QAnon world—they know how ridiculous the whole thing is, but they also recognize the opportunity to enrich themselves or propel themselves into places of power and influence. They’re happy to make use of a useful idiot such as Lin Wood for as long as he (and his audience) are valuable, but they’re also ready to cast the likes of Lin Wood aside at a moment’s notice as soon as he becomes damaging. And this is exactly what happened over the Thanksgiving holiday, leaving both sides fighting over which deserve the support of QAnon’s legion of internet crazies—and even more importantly, the support of Donald Trump.
Flynn is a perfect leader for this faction of Trump World, because he encapsulates the modern political grifter, who will take any gig as long as it pays. He’s happy to accept checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars to speak at various money-making conventions, rallies and “Patriot” events, sometimes quoting scripture that Wood describes as “occult.”
There’s no doubt, either, that Flynn doesn’t believe a word of the actual QAnon beliefs. In fact, in a recorded phone call with Lin Wood, released by Wood himself, Flynn called QAnon “total nonsense” and opined that he believed it was a Deep State/liberal “psyop” or “disinformation campaign” created by the CIA. This, despite the fact that Flynn has personally sold QAnon memorabilia for a profit and regularly appears as a keynote speaker at Q-connected events. It shouldn’t surprise anyone here that the hypocrisy of these people knows no bounds, and will never get in the way of their quest for personal profit.
From the sidelines, it can’t help but be amusing to see some of QAnon’s biggest players tear into each other this way. To see Lin Wood savaging his former ally Sidney Powell, for instance, accusing her of a litany of crimes, seems like ironic justice.
We must remember, though, as must always be stated in stories surrounding QAnon and the rampant growth of conspiracy theory belief online, that these associations and demagogue online commentators ultimately end up damaging or ruining the lives of the average Americans who get sucked into their world, becoming unable to determine fact from fiction in the process. As the QAnon world fractures, it is all too likely that the smaller and more extreme splinter groups that form will only damage the lives of Americans further. This is presumably how you end up with a group of QAnon believers who have been camped out in Dallas for the last month, for instance, awaiting the resurrection of JFK Jr. Yes, this is a real thing that is still happening.
Lord only knows what the next month will bring, but the current civil war is shaking the QAnon world to its core.