According to a report from the New York Times, analysts and experts who follow online trends with regard to threats of political violence are warning the U.S. is moving into dangerous territory as the 2022 midterm election day grows closer.
As the Times’ Ken Bensinger and Sheera Frenkel wrote, there have been upticks in calls for a civil war since the FBI initiated a search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort seeking stolen government documents and then again when President Joe Biden called the former president and “MAGA Republicans” a threat to “the very foundations of our republic.”
Following the Mar-a-Lago search, “civil war’ talk on conservative social media platforms more than doubled and now “experts are bracing for renewed discussions of civil war, as the Nov. 8 midterm elections approach and political talk grows more urgent and heated.”
“Polling, social media studies and a rise in threats suggest that a growing number of Americans are anticipating, or even welcoming, the possibility of sustained political violence, researchers studying extremism say. What was once the subject of serious discussion only on the political periphery has migrated closer to the mainstream,” the report states before adding, “Social media platforms are rife with groups and boards dedicated to discussions of civil war. One, on Gab, describes itself as a place for ‘action reports,’ ‘combat vids’ and reports of killed in action in ‘the civil war that is also looking to be a 2nd American Revolution.’”
According to Robert Pape, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, “What you’re seeing is a narrative that was limited to the fringe going into the mainstream.”
Kurt Braddock, an American University professor who studies the recruitment techniques of fringe groups claimed the former president is not helping matters.
“Ideas go into echo chambers and it’s the only voice that’s heard; there are no voices of dissent,” he explained before warning, “The statements Trump makes are not overt calls to action, but when you have a huge and devoted following, the chances that one or more people are activated by that are high.”
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