Will political speech turn into school violence?


This article is a condensed excerpt from a new special issue chronicle Report, “Managing Political Tensions: Strategies to Deal with School Hatred, Extremism, and Violence”.

TonThe Covid-19 pandemic has always been a nightmare for higher education, but in the 2020-21 school year, it has largely spared the country’s sparsely populated campuses from growing political tensions. As the university reopens, this kind of probation may end, forcing them to be alert not only to fierce partisan speech, but also to potential violence.

Experts pointed out that 2017 “Unity Right” Parade In Charlottesville, Virginia, as Severe warningThey pointed out that universities and their personnel have long been the targets of propaganda and harassment. They say that, given the flammability of political sentiment in recent years, it is unwise for academia to dismiss the possibility of a worse situation. Robert Futrell, a sociologist who studies extremism at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, said: “The pandemic is terrible.” But, he said, because of distance learning, universities “avoid the election cycle. A truly controversial decline”.

chronicle Interviewed dozens of experts in politics, extremism, hate groups, psychology, media and civic literacy, campus safety and policing, and risk management. They predict that political conflicts on campus may accelerate in a combination of worrying social factors that universities should pay close attention to. These include: political polarization, and hostility to higher education, intellectuals, and social sectors considered elites.

For W. Joseph King, the principal of Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, ideological conflict is not an abstract concept. Previously, he was a senior advisor to the president of Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. The college is located deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Lyon is located at the foot of the Ozark Mountains. He said that both are “bubbles of tolerance and diversity surrounded by angry, deprived people and large numbers of white supremacists. Both universities have to deal with the active Ku Klux Klan chapters in the region.”

While at Emory University, King read a scripture in the marriage of two men. The next night, his wife’s car was parked outside their university house and was attacked by a fire bomb. In case he didn’t grasp the point, a few nights later, the car was destroyed by a fire bomb again and the fire department’s quick response and intact parts were destroyed.

When King started working in Lyon, Donald J. Trump had just won the presidency. King met with the students and told them that the Lyon community may have a wide range of political ideas, and students should not be surprised when they encounter challenges to their views. The next morning, he found a spell sprayed on his front door with “Mr.” written on it. Pres. “

In Lyon, the Trump rally in the fall of 2020 brought thousands of supporters to this small town of 10,000 residents. There were not only Trump banners in the crowd, but also Confederate flags and neo-Nazi symbols. “Think about the Congress thug minus the’QAnon Shaman’,” King said. The Lyon campus has basically entered a lockdown state. Keeping the university safe “is your dance for security operations with local and state police.”

King said that in an increasingly polarized country, universities can no longer afford to issue milquetoast announcements and avoid difficult political issues. He is also the founder of the consulting firm Academic Innovators. “Presidents will have to take a hard line. Sometimes this puts them on the wrong side of their trustees and donors and their political leaders.”

CShould universities not only become a target for strengthening speech, but also for increasing violence? Of course, some criminologists, consultants and scholars who study extremism say.

“I look at what happened today with great concern,” said Bruce Hoffman, who has studied terrorism and insurgency for 46 years and is the director of the Center for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University.

Hoffman and other experts believe that the revival and expansion of the Ku Klux Klan after the early pandemics, political turmoil, and economic shock bear a creepy resemblance to the 1920s. The Ku Klux Klan began to target blacks more systematically, as well as Jews, Catholics and immigrants. It has become a nationwide network and is increasingly being established not only in rural areas but also in metropolitan areas. It becomes less secretive, pushing itself into the public domain and gaining support among politicians.

Hoffman said that then and now, a major theme was to discredit professional knowledge, science, and liberal elites. He said that this makes the university, like the State Capitol, “become a bastion of privilege and elitism.” And “when you attack many people in one place, you will be recognized for shock and fear.”

In the 2010s, universities “have been a priority for the extreme right, especially since the rise of the alternative right,” said Vegas Tenold, a reporter and producer for the newspaper. vice And author Everything you love will burn: in the rebirth of white American nationalism (Books in bold, 2018). These groups are also heavily promoted in universities. Turnod believes that far-right groups will return to campus with new questions about Covid-19-vaccination requirements, cover, etc.

Karahill, deputy director of the Anti-Defamation League Center, said that when Trump was in office, building a “separation wall”, opposing immigration and opposing black life issues, “all of these are good things for the white supremacist movement.” Extremism. Anti-government organizations are also satisfied with Trump and direct most of their anger at governors and local leaders who are trying to enact Covid control measures. She predicts that President Biden’s efforts to reverse Trump’s policies will inspire a white supremacist movement in the next few years. “This is an exciting time in our history.”

Harry Campbell for Chronicles

Socio-economic and cultural changes have alienated people who believe they will do better than their parents, but in many cases they have not. Stephanie Lake, director of the criminal justice program at Adelphi University, said that instead of studying the social and global trends that hinder these dreams, those who feel deprived of their rights will look for scapegoats—immigrants, ethnic and religious minorities. And have different sexual orientations and gender identities. The far-right group argues that the liberalism in the ivory tower has established what they believe is a new, politically correct culture and is “removing” them.

Lake said that people who feel excluded from wealth and power are looking for “superficially sane explanations” in the rhetorical greenhouse of the Internet, and this is especially true during the pandemic blockade. It is disturbing to imagine what they will do when they appear.

“It’s almost,” she said, “it’s like a perfect storm of alienation, isolation, and information islands.”

A sort ofIf today’s cauldron of political tensions and psychological trauma is not enough to make people’s minds, the American gun culture will increase the potentially fatal risks. The attack on the campus by a lone perpetrator motivated by extremist remarks is a nightmare for university leaders to think in fear.

“The obvious problem is that many of these attacks are carried out by small cells or by individual actors,” said Todd C. Helms, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and author of the book. Violent extremism in the United States: Interviews with former extremists and their families on radicalization and deradicalization (RAND, 2021).

Terrorism and security experts certainly do not rule out attacks from international enemies. But they believe that the current greater threat comes from within the United States.

As the United States begins to free itself from the Covid blockade, the continuing mass shootings in the spring of 2021 have exacerbated this concern.NPR Report In May, since the beginning of the year, there have been an average of 10 mass shootings per week in the United States. (It defines a mass shooting as four or more people being shot or killed, excluding the perpetrators.)

The lone wolf, journalist and writer Tnord said, “may be acting alone, but they are not radicalized individually.” He said that due to the way extreme right extremist groups operate, the situation of solitary perpetrators is almost more serious than group violence. It may happen.

Jack McDevitt, a criminologist at Northeastern University who has written two books on hate crimes, said that in the lawsuits after Charlottesville, far-right extremists were cautious and shrewd in their words. These groups will start a meeting and say that they do not promote violence, and then spend a short time to do so, hoping that “people sitting in the room will see themselves as heroes and they will go out and commit violence.” McDevitt said As a representative of the elite, urging to restrict access to guns, universities are likely to become targets of such violence.

Criminologists and police and security experts urge universities to take this danger seriously. “The active shooter incident will not go away,” said John Bernhards, executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. He urged university leaders to include these scenarios with other cross-agency desktop planning exercises for violence, natural disasters, and other emergencies.

WM (Marty) Kotis III, a businessman in Greensboro, North Carolina, is also a member of the University of North Carolina System Board of Trustees. He is worried that the midterm elections in 2022 will fuel partisanship. He said, “There are potential factors that want to use spectacles or groups to attract media attention to their cause,” he said, “and anyone on the extreme right or the extreme left could do this.” Curtis is “remarks. Free faithful”, he said-until it becomes something else. “This is a turning point for me-when something changes from speech to violence.”

“It seems,” he said, “it’s like we have lost the ability to have a rational discussion with each other.”


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