Uncertainty, Social Media and the Radicalization of the U.S.
A confluence of factors is leading Americans to gravitate toward extremist views
All across the country, there are signs of a more radicalized American populace. It's become impossible to ignore over the past few years. The United States has witnessed an insurrection, the rise of QAnon, increasing anti-Semitism, attacks on the LGBTQ community and more. While radicalism has risen to some degree in many other Western nations, this trend has been exceptionally more pronounced in the U.S. It is, therefore, necessary to determine the root causes of it and what makes America, well, exceptional.
To better understand extremism in the U.S., it is necessary to understand who is being radicalized. It is primarily right-wing extremism, but right-wing extremism covers many different groups and types of people who engage with it. It is not just the people who join militias like the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers, it's the seemingly ordinary people who latch onto QAnon or other conspiracy theories.
The Jan. 6, 2021, attack in Washington is a good case study on what kind of people have become radicalized in the U.S. There were members of militia groups there, but research has shown roughly 90 percent of the people who stormed the Capitol were not affiliated with militias or other far-right groups. Many were business owners or regular working people who became convinced over time that the 2020 election had been stolen from Donald Trump.
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