Musing about law, books, and politics

How to Make the Radical Right Less Dangerous

Professor Miller-Idriss (sociology and education) explains white supremacy and what drives the shooters in this C-Span interview.

Psychologist Karen Stenner (author of the Authoritarian Dynamic) explains how to make them less dangerous.

From Miller-Idriss: What we call white supremacy includes the belief that whites face an existential threat.

The Great Replacement theory holds that whites will be replaced by immigrants or “others.”

Other white supremacists believe there will be a white genocide.

Some use the Native Americans as a cautionary tale, and say whites will end up on Reservations.

They believe there will be an apocalyptic race war. At the end, a new world order will emerge, and the white race will be saved.

They seek to hasten this conclusion by (called “acceleration”) by creating societal discord through violence.

They are thus trying to increase the polarization to get everyone fighting. Recall that “Get the fighters fighting and keep them fighting,” was #1 when I laid out the 4-part plan for destroying democracy and strengthening oligarch

They’re also on Twitter and other social media, by the way, trying to stir up discord and get the liberals mad enough to engage in destructive behavior.

White Supremacy is global. “Eurabia” is an Islamophobic conspiracy idea Europe will soon be Islamic-ruled. Here’s where Putin and pals come in.

Their goal is to sow discord, disinformation, and doubt. The more discord, the better. A second American Civil War would be Putin’s dream come true.

The desire for civil violence in America is one reason Russian oligarchs pump money into the NRA.

Prof. Miller-Idriss stresses that the radical right is reacting to demographic and electoral shifts of the past few decades. The white supremacists don’t see themselves as fighting for supremacy; they think they’re fighting for survival.

It was clear from angry people who called into the show that they believe the racists are on the other side. They think they’re fighting racists. Why, they ask, isn’t it racism when a white person is the victim, and the attacker nonwhite?

Miller-Idriss explained to the callers that she was talking about the extremists, not all whites. She also explained the difference between ordinary crime and radicalized terrorism. But it didn’t seem that the callers understood her. They believed all whites were being maligned.

Miller-Idriss also said it’s clear that Trump (and others) use language that “reinforces” and “legitimizes” the white supremacy conspiracy theories.

Christopher Wray told Congress that a good percentage of the domestic terror cases they’ve seen are motivated by “some version” of white supremacy.”

Thus here is our situation:

  • Law enforcement is taking steps to control the radical right wing extremists inciting violence while
  • The U.S. President is “reinforcing and legitimizing” these same fringe extremists.

Statement of Truth: Civil War is bad, and best avoided.

OK, so what do we do? We need to counter these effects by taking steps to reduce polarization and bring down the heated rhetoric.

I’ve talked about Karen Stenner’s work here. A recent Atlantic Monthly article did a much more thorough analysis of her research.

Stenner distinguishes status quo conservatives (traditional conservatives) from authoritarians and libertarians.

Authoritarians value sameness and have an intolerance of “difference” and complexity. But “using ‘racist’ as a shorthand to describe authoritarians is inadequate.” (Quotation from the article) It also obviously increases the polarization.

Authoritarians aversion to complexity explains their frustration with Miller-Idriss’s nuanced answers. They see matters simply: They believe there’s a “true America” being undermined by minorities and “political dissidents.”

Stenner’s research shows that about a 1/3 of the population is born with an inclination toward authoritarianism. She says they’re wired that way & can’t be “educated” out of their disposition. They’re also a significant (and potentially dangerous) part of the population.

Karen Stenner says that we can minimize the fears of authoritarians and make them less dangerous by talking about how we are all similar. Like this (from the article):

Obama knew how to do it, which explains some of his talent as a politician. Here, for example, Obama essentially said, “out of many, one” then. . . .

After I posted the above on Twitter, Trump is retweeting lies (called “conspiracy theories”) about Epstein’s death. Trump retweeted this:

Trump retweeting this makes no sense: Bill Barr (AG) and the Federal Bureau of Prisons report to Trump. Trump is in charge of the executive branch.

But lies don’t have to make sense.

Some people believe will them anyway. Others joyfully spread the lies, knowing they’re lies. Why? Because lies are destructive and they want to destroy.

[View as a Twitter thread]