Alan Hostetter, the former La Habra police chief who’s facing charges for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot and is under investigation for using his nonprofit to rail against COVID-19 precautions, is also a man who touts the benefits of yoga and attributes to it his own “miraculous recovery” from spinal surgery.
It’s not a contradiction.
The links between right-wing extremism and New Age wellness circles have become increasingly evident, as fissures appeared during the pandemic among wellness influencers on social media over the effect of conspiracy theories. Last fall, some influencers put their names on a public statement denouncing misinformation spread by adherents of QAnon, the far-right delusion that Satanic cannibals and pedophiles have vast influence over the government.
As new reporting indicates, QAnon has infiltrated L.A.’s wellness circles during the pandemic to an even greater degree than previously known. According to the Los Angeles Times, “several” New Age spiritualists knew more than a dozen people from yoga, meditation, and other circles who traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in the Capitol riot. Some of the participants had been encouraged to promote controversial ideas as a way to build a social media following, either to launch a channel or simply endure during a pandemic that precluded many in-person classes and events.
Primed by nearly a year of rallying against science-based understanding of the novel coronavirus, including promoting a video that claimed a “shadowy cabal” of scientists and companies were linked to the rise of the virus, many in the wellness community were especially susceptible to the kinds of theories that fomented the insurrectionists. Underpinned by a belief in alternative therapies, spiritualists and wellness influencers have long embraced special access to informal knowledge and a distrust of authority.
Far from being infiltrated by QAnon, it could be the case that New Age thinking has always been a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. “It’s always been the water we were swimming in,” one yogi and dance teacher told the Times.
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