Reporting for the Washington Post yesterday, Hannah Knowles and Paulina Villegas wrote about families looking for deprogramming groups to cure their loved ones of right-wing extremism. I hope it works but that hasn't been what I've seen happening to people I know who have been brainwashed by domestic terrorists. Parents for Peace told them that there is a growing number of younger people being groomed in white supremacist ideology and that after Trumpists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, "the intervention groups have experienced a deluge of calls related to the attack as well as to conspiracy theories and QAnon... With the federal government sounding some of its strongest alarms yet about the threat of domestic extremism, these groups say they offer a way forward. Often staffed in part by the formerly radicalized, they are on the front lines of the fight against right-wing extremism, a growing threat that is in the spotlight but which experts argue has long been neglected."
The deradicalization groups preach guidance and reform, as experts call on the Biden administration to invest more in preventing and reversing the kind of radicalization that was on display in the attack on the Capitol,not just prosecuting individuals when the danger escalates to violence and destruction.
“These are people who have chosen hate and ideology as a drug of choice to numb the pain of underlying issues and grievances, and so we treat this the same way we treat addiction,” said Myrieme Churchill, the executive director of Parents for Peace. A father co-founded the group after his radicalized son fatally shot a U.S. soldier.
Experts say deradicalization can be a long and winding process, full of reversals, and emphasize that formal programs are just one tool in a sprawling fight against an overwhelming problem. Some say that hardened extremists are often beyond reach until a tectonic shift in their own lives forces self-reflection.
Brian Hughes breaks radicalization down into three stages: the people “circling the drain” and just considering extremist ideas; the “hard core” like those who stormed the U.S. Capitol; and the people between.
The best time to step in is the “circling the drain” stage, when there is an opportunity to focus on teaching basic media literacy, said Hughes, who co-founded American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL). Far harder is breaking through to the “hard core” individual.Change might require a jolt to the extremist’s personal life-- a conflict with other members of the person’s group, for instance.
“As a rule of thumb, the hard core don’t leave these movements until they’re ready to,” he said.
Groups that aim to “deprogram” extremists take a “highly personal” approach to deradicalization that seems to be effective, Hughes said, echoing others who study radicalization. But Hughes said it is difficult empirically to measure success in “such a personal and almost idiosyncratic process.”
... In a statement to the Washingon Post, the Department of Homeland Security called domestic extremism “the most persistent and lethal challenge” it faces in trying to prevent terrorism and “targeted violence.”
But as the private and public sectors search for ways to deal with the rising tide of right-wing extremism, experts and members of deradicalization groups argue that under the Trump administration, the issue either was exacerbated or, at best, disregarded.
“Trump rang the bell of nationalism and spoke to a lot of people who were not living by ideology but were frustrated for economic reasons and [had] other grievances,” said Sammy Rangel, a founder of Life After Hate, a group established in 2011 that helps people leave the violent far right.
...Groups and movements like the Proud Boys, QAnon and the subculture of incels-- “involuntary celibates” who preach extreme violence and misogyny-- are part of the new wave of what Rangel called “pop-up” renditions of white supremacy. Members of all have sought help from Life After Hate, Rangel said, arguing that the growing eruption of far-right violence has made the need for intervention and rehabilitation more pressing than ever.
He pointed not only to the siege of the Capitol but also to the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where a self-described neo-Nazi drove into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman; and to the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, where the person arrested in the attack allegedly had railed against a “Hispanic invasion” of the United States and dreamed of segregating Americans into different territories by race.
Trump-- like the billionaire far right Mercer family-- encouraged them for his own purposes. Crackpots like Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mad Cawthorn are them. This evening, The Atlantic set out to prove that Greene is just a symptom for what ails the GOP and that even with Trump gone, "fringe ideas that he endorsed are still finding representation in Washington, and Republicans once again are facing a test of what the party will and won’t tolerate. It's a test that they faced in the 60s as the John Birch Society started infiltrating the party. Now they have QAnon... and a crackpot who thinks he's destined to be president, extremist nut and Mercer family-subsidiary Josh Hawley. The Atlantic says he's the most hated man in Washington. Wow-- more than Ted Cruz? Emma Green made the case that he went from "special" to... well, an early and fervent supporter, Missouri's most admired living political, John Danforth now says supporting Hawley was the biggest mistake he ever made in his life!
"Lately," she wrote, "lately, all that Hawley specialness has attracted a special kind of rage from his former allies in the conservative world, too. On January 6, a violent mob stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of Electoral College votes. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick. When news outlets around the world wrote the story of the riot, many illustrated it with a photo of Hawley, raising his fist to a crowd of then-peaceful protesters. The Missouri senator became the avatar of the congressional insurrection, the one lawmakers started before the mob showed up. Conservatives and liberals alike blamed Hawley for encouraging the Capitol attackers by questioning the legitimacy of the election. Sure, seven other senators, including Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville and Kansas’s Roger Marshall, also challenged the results, as did 139 members of the House of Representatives. But Tuberville was schooled by Nick Saban, not John Roberts-- the former Auburn coach wasn’t marked for political greatness. It didn’t even matter much that Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has a similarly elite résumé, stuck it out with Hawley and disputed Arizona’s Electoral College results. 'Ted is now just that annoying fly in the room-- okay, we’ll swat it eventually,' a Republican campaign operative told me. 'Josh is seen as so much worse.' How did Hawley become the most hated man in Washington?"
David McIntosh, a co-founder of the Federalist Society and the president of the Club for Growth, one of DC's former Hawley devotees, calls it "misdirected ambition." And Danforth said "'Disappointed' would be an understatement. I feel responsible. I feel that he had so much to offer. He could have been a terrific senator, and a terrific leader. Maybe presidential, who knows? But instead of being positive and constructive, he turned out to be destructive."
Hawley's national polling favorability average is pathetic-- 19% favorable, 38% unfavorable, a net of minus 19, worse than Ted Cruz (-11), Kevin McCarthy (-11) and Lauren Boebert (-13). More dangerous for Hawley are his numbers in Missouri. From the week before the Jan. 6 riot to the week after the right, his approval among Missouri Republicans fell 9 points. Among all Missouri voters, his approval dropped from 41% before the riot to 36% and those who disapprove him went from 43% to 49%.