QAnoners led a protest in New Zealand that looked suspiciously like Jan. 6

Oh great, Q is going international.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 09: A protestor wears a Donald Trump face mask during a Freedom a...
Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Originally Published: 

Thousands of protesters are outside the gates of the country’s capital and trying to get in. Many of them are wearing Trump gear, showing their support for the ousted former president. Others hold up signs with Qanon slogans and imagery, spouting conspiratorial claims that government officials are involved in child sex trafficking.

Somehow, this is not about the insurrection attempt that took place in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. In fact, it didn’t even happen in America. This was the scene Tuesday in Wellington, New Zealand, where thousands of people across the island nation carried out an organized protest against the country’s vaccine mandates, Vice reported.

Unlike the riot at the U.S. Capitol, the protest outside of New Zealand’s parliament was described by law enforcement as “largely peaceful” and no arrests were made at the scene. More than 3,000 people showed up, according to New Zealand publication Stuff.

But, like, it’s weird, right? It is bizarre that people in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington — more than 8,700 miles away from D.C. — would embrace Trumpism, a political ideology that is tightly wound up in American nationalism. It’s equally strange that protesters would pick up on talking points from QAnon, a conspiracy movement that is also heavily tied to American politics. Q, after all, is supposedly an insider within the American government with high-level security clearance.

But it appears that the narrative has been packed up and shipped overseas in full. According to Stuff, the QAnon believers at the anti-vax rally have looped their own politicians into the existing story. They believe that the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, was arrested for her alleged involvement in child sex trafficking while she was visiting the White House in 2019 and now has an ankle bracelet on to monitor her movement, or maybe that she was arrested after she authorized a China to spy on Donald Trump.

While some of the players in the story may be new, the rest of it is pretty familiar. QAnon supporters have had these sex trafficking conspiracies since the start, dating back to Pizzagate, which claimed that many powerful Democratic politicians including Hillary Clinton were involved in a child sex trafficking ring run out of a D.C. pizza joint. The ankle bracelet imagery isn’t new, either: QAnon folks claim that everyone from politicians to celebrities have on monitors as the result of secret charges that have them all on house arrest.

It is, as it always has been, conspiratorial gobbledygook. But it is gaining steam. QAnon has shown up in the United Kingdom, taking hold as part of a movement that ostensibly wants to fight child exploitation and sex trafficking. It’s in Germany, where it has latched on as part of the anti-mask and anti-vaccine movements. New Zealand is just the latest stop.

Trump appears to have joined the shorthand for these conspiracy believers. Whether they are truly invested in American politics or not, Trump serves as a symbol for them. Supporting Trump, even though he means basically nothing to the local politics in these countries, seems to signify support for anti-government, anti-vaccine ideologies. It is becoming one of America’s most unfortunate exports.