When the insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, I was sitting in my Brooklyn apartment in my pajamas, following live Twitter feeds. At some point I started getting messages that someone was accusing me of being a prominent QAnon activist who’d been photographed at the riot. As someone who’s written about the far right for years and had been the subject of their conspiracy theories before, I shrugged it off.
Then I started getting more messages. This time from old friends—classmates from college, even ex-girlfriends—to see if I was OK. It slowly dawned on me that the tweeter was not a run-of-the-mill unhinged person but a famous unhinged person: Trumpist attorney Lin Wood, who worked on the Kraken lawsuit and had over a million followers. Threats naturally followed, and Wood’s tweet was reported in The New York Times as part of a story debunking the false claims that antifa had secretly stoked the right-wing violence.
Wood’s Twitter was quickly suspended, but not before the post had, at least the last time I took a screenshot, 28,000 retweets and 47,000 likes. For days, right-wing social media and blogs have, repeating Wood’s claim, declared that I am actually the QAnon activist Jake Angeli. Nicknamed “Q Shaman,” he is known for his distinctive outfit—including Halloween-ey plastic horns and face paint—and high-octane rants against a supposedly satanic, pedophilic “deep state.” Angeli has arm and chest tattoos, while I have none, and he’s more than a decade younger than me, as evidenced by comparing my bulging middle-aged midsection to his muscular physique. While Angeli, who was arrested on Saturday, had loudly complained that he was being smeared as “antifa,” rather than getting his due as a Q stalwart who took the dais in victory, none of that was enough to staunch the talk about my supposed role in this conspiracy.