What: As we reach the 2nd anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, American University has various scholars who are experts in extremism, far-right ideologies, white supremacy, militias and organized political violence. Below please find their insights on last year and their outlook for 2023. They are also available to comment on the January 6th hearings and the anniversary.
When: Thursday, January 5, 2022 – ongoing
Background: American University experts who are available for interviews are:
Kurt Braddock is an Assistant Professor of Public Communication in the School of Communication. His research focuses on the persuasive strategies used by violent extremist groups to recruit and radicalize audiences targeted by their propaganda. He is the author of Weaponized Words: The Strategic Role of Persuasion in Violent Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization.
“2022 saw an intensification of far-right extremism in the United States, with motivations for violence evolving as the year progressed. In parallel with increased rhetoric by some far-right politicians and pundits about so-called “grooming”, attacks against LGBTQIA+ individuals grew over the course of the year. I expect this trend to continue through at least the first part of 2023, as some far-right politicians and pundits show no signs of abating their rhetoric in this regard.
White supremacy, white nationalism, and related topics are also likely to continue being key motivators of political violence, as communication surrounding these topics — by both extremists and some elected officials — shows no signs of abating. As these trends continue, I expect we will see continued — and possibly increasing — incidents of lone-actor plots and attacks against those they perceive as viable targets (e.g., the attack on Paul Pelosi).”
Carolyn Gallaher is an expert on extremism and the right-wing, organized violence by non-state actors and urban politics, including the politics, internal dynamics, and patterns of violence of militias, paramilitaries, and private military contractors, among others. Gallaher is the author of On the Fault Line: Race, Class, and the American Patriot Movement.
Prof. Gallaher said: “In 2022, the January 6th Committee revealed how President Donald Trump inspired a failed insurrection that almost toppled 245 years of American democracy. Much of 2022 was spent on holding insurrectionists and other participants to account. The Department of Justice has arrested more than 900 people who participated in the assault and recently successfully prosecuted several members of the violent Oathkeepers militia, including two for seditious conspiracy. As 2023 begins, Trump’s star may be growing dimmer, but right-wing conspiracy theories, online disinformation, and a distressing lack of trust in the basic institutions of democracy continue apace. In particular, it will be important to see whether the Republican Party will reject those within its ranks who have embrace election disinformation and spread false claims about the so-called ‘deep state.’ The fate of the party, and American democracy may hinge on whether the party embraces or rejects right wing extremists within its ranks.”
Brian Hughes is the Co-Founder and Associate Director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL), where he develops studies and interventions to reduce the risk of radicalization to extremism. His scholarly research explores the impact of communication technology on political and religious extremism, terrorism, and fringe culture.
Prof. Hughes said: “2022 saw a troubling continuation of ongoing trends in the radicalization of mainstream American politics. Anti-LGBTQ violence and antisemitism were on the rise, while racism, male supremacy, and other forms of extremism have not abated. Unfortunately, these trends are spurred on and exploited for profit and power by a large cohort of media and political figures. It is even more crucial that in 2023 we continue our work inoculating the public against their divisive, hateful, and manipulative rhetoric.”
Janice Iwama is an assistant professor in AU’s School of Public Affairs. Her research focuses on examining local conditions and social processes that influence hate crimes, gun violence, racial profiling, and the victimization of immigrants. Iwama has served as a co-principal investigator and lead researcher in projects funded by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Unit and the National Institute of Justice.
Prof. Iwama said: “Following the recent spike in hate crimes, I expect federal and state legislators to introduce new legislation in 2023 that will actively seek to improve our data collection on hate crimes, develop better preventative measures against bias incidents, and improve law enforcement responses to hate crimes.”
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