Extremism watchdogs said there could be violence on the streets of the United States. You said minority communities – including Jews – could be endangered. They said the incessant false allegations of rigged election, fraudulent vote, conspiracy to overthrow the president on or after election day could lead to violence.
All year long, and especially after US President Donald Trump said he would not accept the November election results, people overseeing the far-right party in America warned where America could go. Officials and analysts were openly concerned about attacks on police or threats against synagogues or polling stations in black neighborhoods.
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A horrific document produced by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness predicted, under its more extreme scenarios, that conspiracy theorists « could threaten and attack federal government-elected officials [and] government institutions ».
That language came alive on Wednesday when a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Congress hid in the middle of a hearing on the election results. Extremists wearing the symbols of their hatred sat on the podium in the Senate Chamber and looked into government computers abandoned by employees who had fled in a hurry. The Vice President was taken to a safe place while the President said, « We love you » to the people who forced him to flee.
And someone – previously unnamed – was shot dead in the middle of a crowd that had forcibly occupied the government halls.
« Yes, it is, » said Heidi Beirich, who has been monitoring extremists for 20 years, when asked if Wednesday’s chaos is what she was worried about before the elections. « This is our worst fear. »
When people in the anti-extremism world saw their predictions come true on television on Wednesday, they all said they didn’t enjoy saying, « I told you. »
« This seems like a logical inference for so much of what we’ve seen over the year, whether it’s reopening protests and efforts to delegitimize state governments, whether it’s conspiracy theories » said Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “These things have consequences. People pay attention and encourage those who might be less interested in their democracy. »
Like everyone else, extremism watchdogs used the word “unprecedented” a lot. That word kept popping up three years ago when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, which inspired Joe Biden to run for president because he didn’t want to live in an America that tolerated « the same anti-Semitic gall. » that was heard across Europe in the 1930s. “
The chaos at the Capitol was in some ways similar to what was happening in Charlottesville. Both were rallies with many extremist groups, which included violence. Someone was killed at that time too. Back then, Trump called the extremists « very good people ». Today he said in a video asking the mob to disperse and « go home », « We love you. »
But analysts said they shouldn’t be equated. After all, Michael Masters, the CEO of the Secure Community Network, a Jewish security agency, said « why the protest is taking place is different ». Brad Orsini, the group’s senior national security advisor, said, “I take all these incidents at face value as they stand on their own.” In other words, neo-Nazis marching with swastikas and “Jews won’t get us Replace “chant is different from pro-Trump extremists (including neo-Nazis) storming the Capitol and fighting with police officers. According to these watchdogs, they’re both really bad, but they’re all bad in their own way.
What unites them, Segal said, is what unites all extremists: a sense of grievance. They feel like something has been taken away from them and they want to fight the people who took it. In Charlottesville, the neo-Nazis wanted to fight the Jews because they had taken away their imaginary white societies. On Wednesday, the mob wanted to fight the government to « steal » Trump’s (imaginary) victory.
« Today it wasn’t about Jews not replacing us, » he said. « Today was about taking something else away: the America they want, but that’s something that extremists are constantly animating – this concept of someone taking something away from them. »
And unlike Charlottesville, it worked not really about the Jews in today’s violence – although Orsini said Jews may be better prepared than other people. « This has more resonance because we’ve seen this upward trend, this rhetoric of anti-Semitism. We’ve seen violent attacks, » he said.
« What people see today isn’t just a problem for Jews, it’s a American problem, « said Segal.
From today you can draw a straight line back to Charlottesville, where the neo-Nazis announced: » Next stop Charlottesville. End station, Auschwitz. « Https://t.co/2xGFZMb9iK</ Extremism researchers aren't sure what's next. They want order to return to the Capitol, and they want the new government to do what it doesn't – to demand calm, clearly shouting hatred.
« I was hoping I would be unemployed years ago « said Beirich, who only co-founded the global project against hatred and extremism in early 2020 after a long career as a hate student behind him. “I didn’t want this to continue to metastasize and grow.”
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