The Coronavirus Becomes a Battle Cry for U.S. Extremists
From “The Coronavirus Becomes a Battle Cry for U.S. Extremists”
New York Times (05/04/20) MacFarquhar, Neil
Home-grown extremist organizations are adapting the COVID-19 crisis to align with their anti-government and white supremacist credos, in hopes of attracting followers disenchanted by restrictions on their personal freedoms during the pandemic. The extremist presence at protests across the nation is undeniable, although it is unclear how successful their recruiting efforts have been to date. What trackers do know is that online consumption of extremist material has surged during lockdowns, and violent episodes have erupted at the hands of white supremacists or anti-government radicals infuriated over different aspects of the pandemic. For example, engagement with violent extremist online content in states with prolonged stay-at-home orders was up 21 percent in early April compared with the eight preceding months, reports Moonshot CVE, which monitors extremist searches on Google. London-based think tank ISD Global, meanwhile, noted that subscriptions to extremist channels have mushroomed. Experts are especially worried about young Americans, bored and killing even more time on the web now, being drawn in by the hateful rhetoric.
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