QAnonization, Orbanization and Disney

From The New York Times, by Paul Krugman:

Not long ago, using state power to impose financial penalties on corporations for expressing political views you dislike would have been considered beyond the pale. Indeed, it may well be unconstitutional. But the attack on Disney has gone far beyond financial reprisal: Suddenly, Mickey Mouse is part of a vast conspiracy. Florida’s lieutenant governor went on Newsmax to accuse Disney of “indoctrinating” and “sexualizing children” with its “not secret agenda.”

If this seems crazy — which it is — it’s also increasingly the Republican norm. I don’t think political reporting has caught up with how thoroughly QAnonized the G.O.P. has become.

As I mentioned the other day, roughly half of Republicans believe that “top Democrats are involved in elite child sex-trafficking rings.” Here’s an even more impressive number: 66 percent of Republicans buy into “white replacement theory,” agreeing wholly or partly with the claim that “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate with voters from poorer countries around the world.”

Given this mind-set, ambitious Republican politicians naturally pursue policies devised to play to the base’s paranoia and accuse anyone who opposes these policies of being part of a nefarious conspiracy.

And the bizarre nature of the attacks on Disney doesn’t just pander to the craziness of the G.O.P. base; the attacks’ very absurdity is also a message of intimidation aimed at the business world. It says, in effect: “It doesn’t matter how you conduct your business, how innocuous your behavior really is. If you criticize our actions, or fail in any way to demonstrate fealty to our cause, we will find a way to punish you.”

The obvious role model here is Viktor Orban’s Hungary, where the Conservative Political Action Conference will be held next month. As a recent Freedom House report put it, in Hungary “businesspeople whose activities are not in line with the financial or political interest of the government are likely to face harassment and intimidation, and subject to increasing administrative pressure for a possible takeover.”

So the fight over Disney is actually a symptom of a much broader and more troubling development: the QAnonization and Orbanization of one of America’s major political parties, which is putting our democracy at risk.

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