khrushcheva144_PETER NICHOLLSAFP via Getty Images_ PETER NICHOLLSAFP

Send Out the Clowns

In 2016, the year of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election, Americans and Britons were captivated – and terrified – by reports of “creepy clowns” appearing in towns across the US and the UK. The sightings turned out to be a hoax, but we now know that the creepiest clowns are all too real.

MOSCOW – Like many people, I am unnerved by clowns. But a far more terrifying sight than a painted jester – the stuff of horror films – is a real-life buffoon wielding social or political power. And, from QAnon in the United States to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, there is much to fear.

Earlier this month, while working on a biography of my great-grandfather, Nikita Khrushchev, I had reached one of the many pivotal moments in his tightrope-walk of a life – his dealings with US President John F. Kennedy – when I turned on the news. To my surprise, hundreds of QAnon supporters were gathered in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza, overlooking the spot where JFK was assassinated 58 years ago.

By the standards of the usually rabid followers of QAnon – many of whom stormed the US Capitol on January 6 – the gathering was rather restrained. It might even have looked ordinary, were the landscape not dotted with “Trump-Kennedy 2024” flags and t-shirts. In fact, those congregated on the grassy knoll were awaiting the Second Coming of JFK’s son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., who died in a plane crash in 1999. QAnon message boards prophesied that John-John, as he was known, would arrive at the spot where his father was murdered, in order to become Donald Trump’s running mate in the 2024 election.

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