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The New York Times

Study finds white people losing cities to Capitol rioters

When political scientist Robert Pape began to study the issues that motivated the approximately 380 people arrested in the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol, he expected to find that rioters were being driven to violence by the effects. lingering from the great recession of 2008. Instead, he found something very different: Most of the people who took part in the assault, as his polls and demographics show, were from inundated places fears that the rights of minorities and immigrants crowd out the rights of whites in American politics and culture. If Pope’s initial findings – published Tuesday in the Washington Post – are true, they would suggest the attack on Capitol Hill has historical echoes dating back to before the Civil War, he said in an interview over the weekend. end. In the shorter term, he said, the study would appear to link Jan.6 not only to the once-marginal right-wing theory called the Great Replacement, which argues that minorities and immigrants seek to take over the country. , but also at events such as the 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where crowds of white men marched with torches chanting, “The Jews will not replace us!” Sign up for the New York Times newsletter The Morning “If you look back in history, there has always been a series of far-right extremist movements responding to new waves of immigration to the United States or to the United States. civil rights movements of minority groups, ”Pope said. “You see a common pattern among the insurgents on Capitol Hill. They are mostly middle class to upper middle class whites who fear that as social changes occur around them they will see their status decline in the future. One fact emerges from Pape’s study, conducted with the help of researchers from the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, a think tank he heads at the University of Chicago. The counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic white population are the most likely to produce insurgents. This finding was true, Pope determined, even controlling for population size, distance to Washington, unemployment rate, and urban or rural location. Law enforcement officials said 800 to 1,000 people entered the Capitol on January 6 and prosecutors have spent the past three months hunting down many in what they described as one of the largest criminal investigations in American history. In recent court documents, the government hinted that more than 400 people could ultimately face charges, including illegal entry, assault on police officers and obstructing official congressional activities. In his study, Pape found that only around 10% of those charged were members of established far-right organizations such as the Oath Keepers militia or the Proud Boys, a nationalist extremist group. But unlike other analysts who have made similar conclusions, Pape argued that the remaining 90% of “ordinary” rioters are part of a still frozen right-wing mass movement that has shown itself willing to put “the violence to the heart ”. Other mass movements have emerged, he said, in response to large-scale cultural change. In the 1840s and 50s, for example, the Know Nothing Party, a group of Protestant nativists, was formed in response to huge waves of predominantly Irish Catholic immigration to the country. After World War I, he said, the Ku Klux Klan experienced a revival brought about in part by the arrival of Italians and the first eddies of the so-called great migration of black Americans from the rural south to the north. industrialized. In an effort to determine why the crowd that formed on January 6 turned violent, Pope compared the events of the day with two previous pro-President Donald Trump rallies in Washington on November 14 and December 12. after the first two rallies, Pope said, the number of arrests was fewer and the charges less serious than on January 6. Records also show that those arrested in November and December largely lived within an hour of Washington while most in January came from much further afield. The difference at the rallies was Trump, Pope said. Trump promoted the Jan.6 rally in advance, saying it would be “wild” and increase attendance, Pope said. He then encouraged the crowd to walk on the Capitol in an effort to “show his strength.” Pope said he was concerned that a similar crowd could be summoned again by a leader like Trump. After all, he suggested, as the country continues to evolve into a majority minority nation and the right-wing media continue to stir up fear of the Great Replacement, the racial and cultural anxieties that lurk under the riot. at the Capitol do not disappear. . “If all of this is truly rooted in the politics of social change, then we have to realize that it will not be solved – or solved on its own – by law enforcement,” Pope said. “This is political violence, not just ordinary criminal violence, and it’s going to require both additional information and a strategic approach.” Pope, whose career had focused primarily on international terrorism, used this approach after the 9/11 attacks when he created a database of suicide bombers around the world. His research led to a remarkable discovery: most bombers were secular, not religious, and had committed suicide not out of fanaticism, but rather in response to military occupations. U.S. officials ultimately used the results to persuade some Sunnis in Iraq to break away from their religious allies and join the United States in a nationalist movement known as Anbar Awakening. Recalling his early work with suicide bombers, Pope suggested that the country’s understanding of what happened on January 6 was only beginning to take shape, just as its understanding of international terrorism slowly developed after September 11. “We are really still in the early stages,” he said. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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