In a troubling article released from VICE News, extremist experts outlined how far-left violence is becoming commonplace in this era of hyper-politicization.
In the article, Brian Levin, a former NYPD officer who examines domestic extremism as the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, described how he recently had to place himself between a klansmen and an anti-fascist mob seemingly ready to inflict bodily harm.
For Levin, the encounter made him reconsider the basis of his studies. Originally, Levin’s purpose was to study extremism from the right, with his subjects primarily being white supremacists. But after the incident, he said, “At that point, I said, 'We have something coalescing on the hard left.'"
The recent targeted shooting of Republican politicians in Alexandria, Virginia by left-wing Bernie Sanders supporter James T. Hodgkinson debunks the media-fueled myth that violent extremists only exist on the right side of the political spectrum. Now, the rise in violence from the left has caused many extremism experts to shift their focus to Antifa and far left groups like it.
“They see indications that the uptick in extremist rhetoric and anti-government activism that characterized the early years of the Obama presidency are beginning to manifest on the far left in the early day’s of Trump’s, and that the two sides are increasingly headed for a confrontation," VICE found.
Oren Segal, for example, is the director of the Center on Extremism, an organization acts as a branch of the Anti-Defamation League, and hosts seminars on domestic extremism for law enforcement. He's recently begun issuing warnings about the threat of leftist extremism, telling VICE, “I think we’re in a time when we can’t ignore the extremism from the Left."
The idea of violence from the left shouldn't be shocking. In fact, the left has a history of violent acts, stemming from groups like the Black Panthers to Weather Underground and the eco-terrorists of the 1970’s. Post-Obama, the left's calls for violence have only ramped up. A professor at Fresno State openly called for Republicans to be assassinated. Two weeks ago, comedian Kathy Griffin infamously participated in a photo shoot holding the bloody, severed head of Donald Trump.
Just this week, a Democratic strategist launched a "HuntRepublicanCongressmen" campaign on Twitter following the Alexandria shooting.
Chris Hamilton, an expert on American extremism movements at Washburn University, told VICE that anti-authoritarian sentiment may be blurring traditional ideological lines, particularly with the advent of social media.
“These days, that kind of sentiment is popping up in the middle and on the left; it’s not just in the sovereign citizen movement,” he said. “I’m really worried about rising civil strife in the U.S.”
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