Far-right extremists build to more violent acts, research finds
Membership in the Klu Klux Klan may be a sort of gateway drug for far-right extremists, serving as an entry point to more violent groups such as skinheads, militias and Christian identity groups, a new report on right-wing violence finds.
The KKK tends to perpetrate acts of vandalism, not personal attacks, and has a fragmented, informal structure easy to enter, according to the study (.pdf) from West Point's Combating Terrorism Center, "Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America's Far-Right."
Skinheads generally attack individuals, while militias and Christian identity group violence is significantly more likely to involve mass casualties, according to the findings. Two-thirds of all militia attacks involve explosives, and nearly as many involve firearms. About two-third of Christian identity group attacks involve firearms, but the groups are far less likely to use explosives than militias.
The study notes that the number of spontaneous violent attacks by individuals unaffiliated with any far-right group is on the rise, "which is a source of concern if this is the future recruitment potential of the more established far right groups."
Violence by anti-abortion, Christian identity and militia groups has fallen since the 1990s, casting doubt on suggestions that the identity groups and militias are a growing threat, the report says. Skinheads and neo-Nazi groups have become more active in the 2000s, with their attacks among the most lethal.
A "contentious political climate and ideological political empowerment play important roles in increasing the volume of violence; thus, it is not only feelings of deprivation which motivate those involved in far right violence, but also the sense of empowerment which emerges when the political system is perceived to be increasingly open to far right ideas," the author says in concluding remarks.
Among other findings, there is "limited correlation between the level of violence and the proportion and size of certain minority groups, i.e., Hispanic groups"; far-right violence has migrated outside the South; the balance of power within various movements has changed, and some groups such as violent anti-abortionists are in "clear decline."
-read the study (.pdf)
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