America’s Satanic Panic Returns — This Time Through QAnon
Underneath it all is a “We’re gonna burn those Witches!!!” attitude.
The first time sociologist Mary de Young heard about QAnon, she thought: “Here we go again.”
De Young spent her career studying moral panics — specifically, what became known as the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, when false accusations of the abuse of children in satanic rituals spread across the United States.
Decades later, echoes of that same fear had emerged in QAnon. The seemingly novel conspiracy theory has grown in far-right political circles since November 2017. Adherents of QAnon believe that a shadowy cabal kidnaps children, tortures them and uses their blood in satanic rituals. The alleged perpetrators in the QAnon conspiracy theory are Democratic politicians — not preschool teachers, as had been the case in the 1980s — but the accusations are eerily similar.
“Every moral panic has to have a folk devil,” says de Young, the author of The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic. “It has to have a person — or more likely a group of people, whether real individuals or fantasized individuals — who are the devils in the middle of all of this.”