D R A F T

Alan Feuer, who wrote up the study for the New York Times, from WaPo’s op ed piece, observes in passing, “Other mass movements have emerged, he said, in response to large-scale cultural change.” He brings an interesting perspective to his analysis. According to his bio, he “[…] covers courts and criminal justice for the Metro desk. He has written about mobsters, jails, police misconduct, wrongful convictions, government corruption and El Chapo, the jailed chief of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Robert A. Pape’s bio at U of C, where he is a professor of political science, reads in part: “Robert A. Pape is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago specializing in international security affairs. His publications include Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It (Chicago 2010) (with James Feldman); Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Random House 2005); Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War (Cornell 1996) […] His commentary on international security policy has appeared in The New York TimesWashington PostNew RepublicBoston GlobeLos Angeles Times, and Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, as well as on NightlineABC NewsCBS NewsCNNFox News, and National Public Radio. […] His current work focuses on the causes of suicide terrorism and the politics of unipolarity. He is the director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats.

***


Alan Feuer, “Fears of White People Losing Out Permeate Capitol Rioters’ Towns, Study Finds,” New York Times, April 6, 2021 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/06/us/politics/capitol-riot-study.html.

In his study, Mr. Pape determined that only about 10 percent of those charged were members of established far-right organizations like the Oath Keepers militia or the nationalist extremist group the Proud Boys. But unlike other analysts who have made similar findings, Mr. Pape has argued that the remaining 90 percent of the “ordinary” rioters are part of a still congealing mass movement on the right that has shown itself willing to put “violence at its core.”

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 nativist Protestants, was formed in response to huge waves of largely Irish Catholic immigration to the country. After World War I, he added, the Ku Klux Klan experienced a revival prompted in part by the arrival of Italians and the first stirrings of the so-called Great Migration of Black Americans from the rural South to the industrialized North.

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 nativist Protestants, was formed in response to huge waves of largely Irish Catholic immigration to the country. After World War I, he added, the Ku Klux Klan experienced a revival prompted in part by the arrival of Italians and the first stirrings of the so-called Great Migration of Black Americans from the rural South to the industrialized North.

In an effort to determine why the mob that formed on Jan. 6 turned violent, Mr. Pape compared events that day with two previous pro-Trump rallies in Washington, on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12. While police records show some indications of street fighting after the first two gatherings, Mr. Pape said, the number of arrests were fewer and the charges less serious than on Jan. 6. The records also show that those arrested in November and December largely lived within an hour of Washington while most of those arrested in January came from considerably farther away.

The difference at the rallies was former President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Pape said. Mr. Trump promoted the Jan. 6 rally in advance, saying it would be “wild” and driving up attendance, Mr. Pape said. He then encouraged the mob to march on the Capitol in an effort to “show strength.”

Mr. Pape said he worried that a similar mob could be summoned again by a leader like Mr. Trump. After all, he suggested, as the country continues moving toward becoming a majority-minority nation and right-wing media outlets continue to stoke fear about the Great Replacement, the racial and cultural anxieties that lay beneath the riot at the Capitol are not going away.

“If all of this is really rooted in the politics of social change, then we have to realize that it’s not going to be solved — or solved alone — by law enforcement agencies,” Mr. Pape said. “This is political violence, not just ordinary criminal violence, and it is going to require both additional information and a strategic approach.”

***

Robert A. Pape, “What an analysis of 377 Americans arrested or charged in the Capitol insurrection tells us,” Washington Post, April 6, 2021 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/04/06/capitol-insurrection-arrests-cpost-analysis/.

[…] What we know 90 days later is that the insurrection was the result of a large, diffuse and new kind of protest movement congealing in the United States.

The Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), working with court records, has analyzed the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans, from 250 counties in 44 states, arrested or charged in the Capitol attack.

Those involved are, by and large, older and more professional than right-wing protesters we have surveyed in the past. They typically have no ties to existing right-wing groups. But like earlier protesters, they are 95 percent White and 85 percent male, and many live near and among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties.

***

Nor were these insurrectionists typically from deep-red counties. Some 52 percent are from blue counties that Biden comfortably won. But by far the most interesting characteristic common to the insurrectionists’ backgrounds has to do with changes in their local demographics: Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.

For example, Texas is the home of 36 of the 377 charged or arrested nationwide. The majority of the state’s alleged insurrectionists — 20 of 36 — live in six quickly diversifying blue counties such as Dallas and Harris (Houston). In fact, all 36 of Texas’s rioters come from just 17 counties, each of which lost White population over the past five years. Three of those arrested or charged hail from Collin County north of Dallas, which has lost White population at the very brisk rate of 4.3 percent since 2015.

***

CPOST also conducted two independent surveys in February and March, including a National Opinion Research Council survey, to help understand the roots of this rage. One driver overwhelmingly stood out: fear of the “Great Replacement.” Great Replacement theory has achieved iconic status with white nationalists and holds that minorities are progressively replacing White populations due to mass immigration policies and low birthrates. Extensive social media exposure is the second-biggest driver of this view, our surveys found. Replacement theory might help explain why such a high percentage of the rioters hail from counties with fast-rising, non-White populations.

While tracking and investigating right-wing extremist groups remains a vital task for law enforcement, the best intelligence is predictive. Understanding where most alleged insurrectionists come from is a good starting point in identifying areas facing elevated risks of further political violence. At the very least, local mayors and police chiefs need better intelligence and sounder risk analysis.

To ignore this movement and its potential would be akin to Trump’s response to covid-19: We cannot presume it will blow over.The ingredients exist for future waves of political violence, from lone-wolf attacks to all-out assaults on democracy, surrounding the 2022 midterm elections.

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