Craig McCann’s recent article, “Beware the Anti-Fascists, for they have become what they oppose,” I am told, does not necessitate a response. The piece is so noxious that it casts a pall over the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, which published it, and anyone associated, including myself. Yet I have worked with CARR for something like two years now, authored a lengthy peer-reviewed article through the group, headed up the Area Studies working group, and attended steering committee meetings. At no point in my time at CARR have I heard or read anything quite like the arguments proffered by McCann, so I reject the notion that they typify the organization in any form or represent more than the opinion of one person within it.
Given that assessment, I will take the opportunity, graciously provided to me by CARR’s dogged and tireless director Matthew Feldman, to provide my rebuttal to Dr. McCann’s piece. I would not disparage either the academic record of Prof. Feldman, whose voluminous collections on fascism with Roger Griffin gave me a fillip in researching my own book seven years ago, or McCann, whose contributions on the editing and peer review side of scholarship tend to go unnoticed (as with the excellent text, Violent Radicalization and Far-Right Extremism in Europe).
Certainly, they received much animus over social media, where it is easy to traffic in fast accusations. Unfortunately, I wonder if the author had taken more care regarding the provocative tone of “Beware the Anti-Fascists,” perhaps the negative reaction might have been ameliorated. But then, in a way, a provocation is meant to do just that, catalyzing an equally or even excessively provocative response in order to locate evidence of one’s initial point. In such a controversy, everyone can rest assured that polarization will lead to self-congratulation among one’s colleagues and bitterness against one’s newly-obtained enemies.
Some have taken to Twitter with receipts on Dr. McCann’s social media presence, including comments about trans people and an apparent pivot to the pro-Trump social media site Gettr. However, on the advice of colleagues, I hope to avoid any blemish of ad hominem here, rebutting the article written by McCann on its own merits, rather than integrating sparks from the online firestorm into the present scholarly effort. It is not my place to assume the intentions of the author or, indeed, of the article, which appears to have taken on a life of its own. When dealing with the subject of fascism, tempers often boil over, and recriminations follow. Yet it is precisely the volatility of the subject, the seriousness of its repercussions, that I urge all those engaged in the debate to employ patience and nuance before blind rage.
Responding to Claims of Militant Anti-fascist Activism
The author’s dejection seems palpable, as he puts his own field in scare quotes—he is after all the author of an important work in assessing CVE strategies called The Prevent Strategy and Right-wing Extremism A Case Study of the English Defence League. Casting the field in which he works in such an unfamiliar light indicates significant alienation, and he redoubles the effect by describing the field as “infiltrated.” Without providing any example of such infiltration, the claim appears little more than provocative—an incendiary allegation carried over into the claim that “This [infiltration] has exploded since the riot that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, for which a large number of criminal investigations are still ongoing.” How do we know that people willing to commit crimes infiltrated the field? How do we know they began infiltrating even more after January 6? We must take McCann’s word for it.
McCann does provide two examples of what he describes as those who believe that “the only way to oppose the radical right is by emulating their tactics.” Yet before moving to those examples, we must inquire as to the ownership of tactics. Is political violence originally the strategy of the political right? Clearly the answer is no, but deeper still, to assess the tactics of the fascist movement under the rubric of “political violence” is to do a grave disservice to the scope of violence that it seeks to enact. And this is perhaps the cardinal sin of McCann’s piece: Thou shall not make false equivalences. I by no means seek to encourage violence, nor participate in it. However, when one attempts to balance punching a fascist with bursting into a Mosque and murdering dozens of innocent people for sport, the logical shortfalls become obvious.
But before turning to this dilemma, addressing the examples offered by McCann helps to elucidate the flawed argumentation. The first is an interview from September 6, 2021, with author Talia Lavin conducted by the Bad Faith podcast hosted by Briahna Joy Gray, in which Lavin supposedly advocates “brass knuckling up and flattening the nose of a Proud Boy.” The full transcript reads as follows: “the elements of vulnerability to radicalization [are] very common human emotions—like is feeling lost, is feeling lonely, is feeling purposeless—and anything we can do to mitigate those feelings in such large masses of the population, that’s great. I think there are many constructive things we can do to fight Nazism that don’t involve just brass knuckling up and flattening the nose of a Proud Boy, but like I think you have to be willing to brass knuckle up and flatten the nose of a Proud Boy, too.”
McCann does not describe Gray’s position, which involves a long-term effort to “deprogram” those who “find solace” on the far right. Nor does he describe the question of violence in the context of the “constructive” methods of opposing fascism. This absence of context is further problematized by the issue of being willing to use violence as opposed to seeking it out. A counter-protest against a group of violent fascists bears the serious risk of being attacked. Is it wrong to defend one’s self against an attack? By presenting this multifaceted debate as a unified cry for bloodshed, McCann fails to appreciate the complexity of opinions, which aids his perception of a large-scale infiltration. And to further bolster his case, McCann refers to a podcast episode by the wonderful “Right Rising” podcast—a reference that perhaps illustrates the fact that the “infiltration” he feels may not actually represent the reality of a majority of people in his field.
This becomes a problem of trust. One who has come out swinging against “infiltration” is obviously presenting themselves as suspicious of his colleagues. So it comes as no surprise that he refuses to “trust those identifying so passionately as ‘Anti-Fascists’ to know how the radical right differs from the ‘regular right.’” Again, as readers, McCann expects us to do the work of assuming he does not mean all those who identify passionately as “Anti-Fascists.” One such person would be myself, and I wrote an entire book laboriously distinguishing between the radical, extreme, and center right. Even I have met with criticism from people more engaged than myself in opposing the far right for overplaying the fascist characteristics of figures like Piłsudski, so I wonder if his sense of a failure “to identify a coherent strand of thinking, other than anger” is well founded. Putting his own tone to the side, McCann’s misapprehensions about anti-fascist activists paint a dire but also unrealistic portrait.
“The largely ignored Antifa protests which have led to large scale disorder, criminal damage and violence in Portland, Oregon is a demonstration of where the wisdom of the mob can lead,” McCann cautions. I live in Portland, Oregon, and have been interviewed by every network affiliate, The Atlantic, Vice Media, and newspapers from as far as France and England, over the subject of political violence in my city of residence. I am always impressed at how much focus there is on Portland, with local far-right agitators like Andy Ngo finding their way to a strange sort of celebrity across right-wing media. Thus the claim that “Antifa protests” have been “largely ignored” seems even less substantiated than Dr. McCann’s other arguments. Indeed, that a British CVE expert is denouncing Portland’s activists at all demonstrates the fact of extensive media coverage by every major newspaper in the world.
To add to this cognitive dissonance, McCann seems to conflate with anti-fascist action the large-scale protests against police violence following the murder of George Floyd on May 28, 2020, for which convicted Derek Chauvin faces 22.5 years in prison. This conflation is mistaken, as the oldest antifa group in Portland, Rose City Antifa, repeatedly attempted to make clear: while they supported protests against the police, they ascribed to anti-fascist action the narrow definition of specifically opposing fascist groups and far-right organizations that support them. Though McCann’s conflation may appear insignificant, it presents a category error through which he can assign to local anti-fascist activists blame for spontaneous and large-scale rioting carried out by non-activist members of the public. While the conflation here is common—after all, rioters often wear all black—it poses a dangerous allegation in apparent efforts to demonize groups that openly confront fascists. In doing so, it postulates a false sequence from “advocating for [anti-fascist] street violence” to “large scale disorder, criminal damage, and violence” in the form of rioting.
To repeat myself, I am not spoiling for violence, but I do not begrudge the use of self-defense if attacked (and incidentally, neither does the law, as far as I am aware). That said, given the risk of assault when openly opposing fascists, I would agree that such activity would require one to be prepared for self-defense. The “vestiges of the moral high ground,” which McCann appears so eager to preserve (and who would blame him!) are also grounded on a paradox. “Violence begets violence,” he assures the reader, explaining his refusal to “brass knuckle up and punch a Proud Boy.” Yet where does the violence begin? Did 51 Muslims provoke the Christchurch shooter before he went on a rampage and murdered them in broad daylight? What about the 23 dead in El Paso? Nobody physically attacked those shooters before their bloodlust overcame their souls. If “violence begets violence,” however, would not aggressive anti-fascist violence be easily explained?
Sometimes, far from begetting more violence, violence actually stops the cycle. In Oslo, a crazed would-be mass murderer burst into a mosque and started shooting before three men brought him down. Nobody died. I have experienced something similar in Portland, since we are on the subject. In August 2020, I arrived at a downtown park just as a large brawl was breaking up. What turned into a street battle was fully planned out by fascists from around the region, who further plotted to carry their violence into the night, probably by beating up homeless people and other vulnerable populations in what they called, “evening festivities” and “night ops.” Anti-fascists who opposed them were attacked, and many suffered injuries, including local reporter and podcaster Robert Evans. Yet as a result of the violent repercussions of their early efforts, the fascists who planned the night-time attacks fled back to their own hometowns (Wilson and Evans 2020, Patriot Coalition 2020).
In leaked chats following the maelstrom of violence, some expressed disappointment, with one activist saying, “So no night action?” and another replying, “Are we not going back in tonight?… I was coming up for the evening festivities.” After some time, the first activist repeats, “Can someone from the head ops please give a clear direction on the night op?” Then another account chimes in, “Tonight is off- a lot of our guys were hurt… it was discussed that the plan was to go in again at another time and better prepared- we now know what they are using against us… we can’t go in with injured people- they need to recoup and heal… today was a win… they know we are here and they know they got their asses handed to them… we need to keep recruiting- we WILL be going in again- and SOON!!!” (Patriot Coalition 2020). It is clear from this message that “evening festivities” and “going in” are euphemisms for extreme violence.
I will not call the repelling of an incursion force bent on “night ops” a victory any more than I will put stock in their exuberant declaration of a “win,” because I do not wish injuries suffered through violence and traumatic experiences of these kinds on anyone. Yet there is some solace to be had in the reality that violence directed against the most vulnerable was deflected, absorbed even, by members of the community who felt more capable of facing assaults by some of the most violent members of society. The true victory would have been preventing the fascists from staging violence in the first place, but anti-fascists averted the worst-case scenario of night rampages.
My experience—I was threatened with a handgun by a far-right activist while documenting some of the aftermath—is by no means unique, although my imparting it may raise eyebrows or stoke anger against me. A close friend who is white was bicycling through downtown one afternoon with her son, who is of mixed racial descent, when they happened on a host of far-right protesters waving Confederate flags and other such symbols. She was paralyzed with fear before being surrounded by a group of anti-fascists who ushered her to safety. The activists’ role that day was not to launch some form of assault or to break other people’s property but to keep vulnerable members of the community safe.
The reason I write these reflections on my own experiences and those of close friends is not to beat a dead horse but to offer a counter argument to the notion that a boogie man named “Antifa” is wreaking havoc throughout Portland. I will not deny that I have sharply criticized some activities carried out in the name of this or that left-wing political ideology. However, I would also stress that the far graver danger faced by Portland lies in those far-right activists who intend to rampage through the city at night and harm people their ideology teaches them to despise.
Nevertheless, perhaps the most intense position staked out by McCann comes after his harsh words about Portland: “Many years ago, we spoke of cumulative extremism in relation to the relationship between Islamist and radical right groups. Now we have the scenario where it is the radical left who have replaced the Islamists.” This claim is easy to misconstrue. McCann is not creating an equivalence between Islamists and leftists so much as he is arguing that leftists have become the principle target of the far right in a kind of spiral of violence.
Cumulative Extremism: Dynamics of Violence between Anti-fascists and the Radical Right
Now, the theory of cumulative extremism (or reciprocal radicalization) has become a hot topic in circles of extremism research. It helps to offer an explanatory framework that implicates two or more parties in a kind of accelerating cycle of violence. The theory derives from an important article by Roger Eatwell, which describes “cumulative extremism”: “the way in which one form of extremism can feed off and magnify other forms.” It is useful to describe cumulative extremism in order to take a step away from it and think through possible contradictions with an eye to another, similar and perhaps simpler term: polarization.
For Bartlett and Birdwell (2013), cumulative extremism involves a trajectory in which actions from either side trigger equal and opposite reactions from the other side. In his own work on “cumulative extremism,” Matthew Feldman (2012) writes, “the intertwined extremes from opposing illiberal camps seek to radicalize otherwise liberal-democratic populaces rejecting both political violence and collective scapegoating—in all its forms—in favor of the clashing of supposedly hostile and monolithic civilizations.” This process of radicalization, also called “polarization,” contributes to cumulative extremism. Studies in cumulative extremism have already included not only Islamists and Counter Jihad but also the Troubles in Northern Ireland (Carter 2020) and anti-fascists opposing the British National Party (Macklin 2020). Hence, redundant talk of one actor “replacing” another loses the complexity of different scenarios, actors, and the social conditions that might foster different outcomes.
Thinking about this particular theoretical corpus, perhaps using the lens of polarization in the context of McCann’s claims about Portland, Donatella Della Porta’s (2013) notion of “root causes” might help us understand how stressors from systemic racism and economic class (including police violence) plays into the reality of political violence, with its dynamic “facilitator causes” including Trumpian exhortation and social media inflammation, unleashed through the “precipitating causes” of rioting following the police murder of George Floyd. While it looks from the outset as though two pitched forces are locked in heated contest—Trumpists versus Black Lives Matter; the far right versus Antifa—a step back shows that the engagement is asymmetrical. The police, far-right vigilantes, peaceful protesters, rioters, anti-fascists—many agents can enter the complex field of engagement, and conflating them brings us only false conclusions.
Hence, the most current literature on cumulative extremism or reciprocal radicalization stresses complexity, asymmetrical conflict, and multi-actor scenarios, while also rethinking predicates of “radicalism” and “extremism” in light of a diminishing center (or multiple centers). In their article, Busher and Macklin (2015) agree that “the interactional dynamics between opposing groups require greater and more detailed attention if we are to better understand the ebb and flow of ‘extremist’ mobilizations both in the UK and elsewhere.” However, they note, more conceptual clarity is needed based on six valuable premises.
1. Name the radicalization taking place; differentiate between actors and deeds.
2. Describe the relationships involved in the “Spirals of Violence.”
3. Assess the ebb and flow of interactions.
4. Address movement-countermovement influences.
5. Reckon with the wider social, cultural, and political environment
6. Describe the closeness of the coupling between movements
Unfortunately no such effort exists in Dr. McCann’s article, so I will venture in this direction to explore how the framework might compare to McCann’s. In the US, the seeds of “reciprocal radicalization” were sown in the fertile soil of the Trump movement and the rise of BLM protests during the year 2020 amid COVID regulations. With one side of the population feeling marginalized and attacked by police and the President and the other being spurred to action by Trump, the conditions were made for a perfect storm for violence and unrest. Here, as Macklin (2020) writes, “a group is never simply entrained by its political opponents but responds to a range of different ‘publics’ both nominal and real.” We are not dealing simply with political actors in the streets but the cultures and communities that produce them, along with the perceptions of the conflicts among the divided public, which become as complex as the conflicts themselves, as is readily visible in the complicated response of Dr. McCann who may or may not have ever visited “deep Portland.”
As Macklin (2020) shows, deterministic models do not always represent the ebb and flow of movements over the long term. Sometimes success in one direction can lead to a demobilization in another. Macklin uses the example of the British National Party’s retreat from the streets after electoral victories, while Carter (2020) uses the example of the decline of the Counter Jihad Movement in the mid-2010s. We could also show the ebb in BLM activity in the lead-up to the 2020 elections and in the midst of an escalation in far-right demonstrations. Throughout 2021, vociferous and sometimes violent protests against COVID-19 regulations had no equal on the side of the left, and have been largely unopposed throughout the US.
For this reason, McCann’s notion that anti-fascist activists, once blooded with the scent of fascists, will turn their ire to the next subject with alacrity has not held up. “I also can’t help but feel that those most vociferously advocating for violence against those they perceive to be ‘Nazis’ would not be capable of punching someone else in the face,” he writes. This claim avoids the controlled definition of anti-fascist action provided by groups like Rose City Antifa, but it also mobilizes a “slippery slope” fallacy. There is no research, as far as I know, that indicates that violent opposition to fascism—however one seeks to avoid it— by nature, leads to further violence against other actors. Carter (2020) observes that in Northern Ireland, riots lead to further forms of violence, but in Portland, we have seen a sharp decrease in political violence since 2020, probably because of Trump’s loss of the election and the increasing consequences felt by the far right due to their repeated violent incursions.
McCann does note something fascinating in his essay. “In positioning themselves in opposition to the radical right,” he writes, “some find themselves unable to challenge the worst excesses of groups on the radical left, for fear of weakening the collective stance against the fascists.” This claim begs for a citation, because it feels so close to being correct. In criticizing self-censorship, McCann appears to support the venting of opinions, such as his own. Yet why would people feel afraid of weakening the collective stance against the fascists today? Plausibly this intuition lies in the severe crisis that democracies face throughout the world in the form of raging, violent nativism, which carries extremely violent fascists with it and sanctions their brutality.
Perforce, when Dr. McCann argues that “if someone on the radical right of the equation so openly advocated for punching members of Antifa in the face, they would be accused of radicalizing people and inciting violence,” he seems somewhat removed from this predicament. In fact, members of the radical right openly advocate for violently assaulting left wingers regularly. They rarely face ostracization from the ranks of the right. The celebrity of Kyle Rittenhouse provides a clear example of the championing of right-wing vigilantism, and has no equal on the left in scale or pitch. I wonder to what degree self-censorship compares to vociferous and fawning approval of vigilante killings, or if the latter might explain the former rather well. Indeed, reciprocal radicalization literature talks about “shared scripts” between violent actors, but in order to recognize common back-and-forths, it is valuable to understand the distribution and dynamics of asymmetrical power relations.
Again, here I am not seeking to “start fires,” as McCann eloquently puts it, but bring attention to the asymmetry of forces. As well as the calls for violence (recall then-President Trump’s phrase, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”), the left has no equivalent to the disinformation produced by the far right—for instance, on Fox News or Steve Bannon’s wildly successful podcast. There is no structuring “Big Lie,” such as Trump’s assertion of a “stolen election,” on the left. Where the left has made efforts to encourage responsible management of platforms to the exclusion of disinformation that might prove harmful, the far right has struck out against evidenced and established fields of scholarship like Critical Race Theory and even the literature of Holocaust remembrance. To say that this radical asymmetry should have no bearing on people’s ethical calculous pertaining to the condemnation of the excesses of anti-fascists or the left, more broadly, is to reduce complex problems to the simplest equations: violence = bad.
And let me add that I also agree that “no-one advocating for violence should… be given a pass, regardless of your political persuasion,” but I also argue that they should not be condemned ex cathedra without assessing their methods, rationales, and the pressures under which they find themselves. As a scholar I will eagerly admit my anti-fascist partisanship. This, I was told in graduate school, simply means that I can acknowledge my bias and contextualize my findings appropriately. Surely anyone who supports democracy would do the same thing. Beyond that, I would also oppose making generalized moral judgments against people making difficult choices about risk regarding their own efforts to stem the rise of fascism and what John Rawls called “duty.”
In another avoidance of complexity, McCann asks whether “these very same people advocate for ‘brass knuckling up and flattening the nose of an Islamist?’” It is the case that opposition to Islamism is often used as a stalking horse by those who simply hate Muslims and immigrants. It is also the case that anti-fascists travelled all the way to Syria in order to fight against ISIS during that Islamist group’s blitz. So the answer to this question is complicated by the reality of power relations in which, radical or not, Muslims face daily threats from the far right, and frequent false accusations of Islamism only inflame those tensions.
To claim, however, that this complexity muted the response to the terrible murder of Sir David Amess MP, as McCann does, is to completely ignore the outpouring of grief and support from the Muslim community and the Labour Party, which was comparable to the similar response after the murder of Jo Cox. In both cases, the Prime Minister attended the memorial service, along with a long list of MPs and notables. (It bears mentioning that, after the assassination of Cox, the British public went on to vote for Brexit regardless.) Once again, as with the claim that political violence in Portland has been ignored, the notion that the murder of MP Amess produced a “muted response” simply does not bear out. Indeed, the lack of evidence for “infiltration” remains glaring along with these perceptions, which it might be best to view as subjective impressions. Scholars on cumulative extremism recognize the creation of victimization and demonization (Ebner and Guhl 2020), and we must take care to avoid reproducing such dynamics within the scholarly field.
The second and final example pointing to “infiltration” noted by McCann, aside from the podcast, lies in a Twitter argument that took place last month between an academic named Brian Levin and an activist named Molly Conger. The debate is not particularly interesting. Conger does not argue in favor of violence at all. She responds to a tweet by Brian Levin accusing Talia Lavin of “’Punch a Nazi’ drivel,” by pointedly arguing that academic efforts are ineffective. Brian Levin fires back by arguing that “many embrace violence today as 1st choice method against vile little miscreants when they engage in public bigoted, but otherwise non-physical rants.” Escalating the discourse further, Levin accuses Conger of advocating violence simply for pointing out that our academic models have remained unsuccessful at stemming the rise of fascism.
In comments under this short argument, a number of activists make it clear that, in the words of photojournalist Zach D. Roberts, ”[I] [d]on’t know anyone (outside of Nazis) that r embracing violence as 1st choice. They’ve all been fighting it online & w/ non-violent means & all that much of academia is doing is downplaying the threat.” Reading McCann’s creation of a false equivalence between fascists and anti-fascists, wherein the latter is becoming the former, one can understand the frustration about academics “downplaying the threat,” given the asymmetry of violence and violent intent.
Yet McCann is right in one way when he writes, “It’s difficult not to read things like this and to feel sad that those who peddle in grievance and hatred have found their utopia in the click-chasing zero sum game of social media.” That frustration is virtually universal across social media, and appears to be a built-in problem with the mode of communication, itself. As researchers, social media offers us one glimpse into online cultures but it does not bring a comprehensive understanding of social relations. These two examples unveiled by McCann offer scanty evidence to support the ambitious claims made at the paper’s outset. Both of McCann’s examples involve web 2.0, which should not be mistaken for real life. Both also involve Talia Lavin, who as far as I know has, far from attempting to “infiltrate” the CVE field, cannily criticized some of its problems. And although McCann insists that “If you advocate for anything that takes longer than the instant gratification of punching someone in the face, you’re an apologist for the radical right,” as already shown, Lavin states in the interview cited by McCann that long-term and constructive methods are indeed useful.
As I have insisted throughout this article, I do not advocate violence, but I do view self-defense as a necessity in the direst circumstances. I have interviewed former members of anti-racist skinhead gangs from the 1980s, and few have spoken more seriously and critically about “cultures of violence” or “going in for glory.” Yet I am not concerned that, as McCann states, “you may have become what you hate.” I expect that those who revel in political violence against fascists will experience some hard lessons in life, not become a concentration camp guard who brutalizes defenseless detainees. I would perhaps think that someone who glorifies a life of alienated violence against fascists will have a difficult time relating to others in their community, but not become a Nazi who views Anders Breivik as a “saint” and tries to summon the courage to follow in his footsteps. Where one side seeks to engage in violence against civilians in a neighboring community and their opposition from that community seeks to prevent that violence, equivalences between aggressor and defender fail.
And such provocations are baked into the history of fascism and the far right. In England, the Battle of Cable Street is often trotted out. Mussolini’s Blackshirts conducted raids on towns and neighborhoods with left-wing representation. In Germany, the Brownshirts stoked violence by marching through workers’ districts and trying to “control the streets.” In Northern Ireland, far-right Unionist Ian Paisley notoriously provoked conflict with Republicans by marching through Catholic neighborhoods and cities. Provocations of violence appear throughout the history of the far right as ways to beat down and weaken opposition, while using the immediate rush of media attention to promote hateful platforms while presenting themselves as the true, embattled victims. And if victorious, provocations are followed by ever more provocations, expansions, and destruction.
Is opposition to those provocations really easier to decry than the reversal of victim and offender instrumentalized afterword to condemn anti-fascists? I should note that such a reversal is not universally encountered. In Italy, the Resistance against the Blackshirts from 1943-1945 was immortalized in the famous biography by Giovanni Pesce, Senza Tregua. In France, violence between political right and left was common both during the interwar period, and the Resistance was similarly heralded into the post-war period. Of course, I do not believe that we live in conditions identical to those of previous generations, but taking a historical point of view, it appears that a totally pacifist approach to fascism and the far right from which it arose relies on the distinct privilege of not currently facing immediate attack—something that has felt more tenuous in recent years, even for those who enjoy comparatively greater privilege (such as myself).
That said, I will end on a note of agreement with Dr. McCann, who actually comes off as an optimist after all of that. “We should not give in to despair, to this sense of helplessness. Those of us who want a better tomorrow and not to simply prolong the divisiveness we see everywhere, must use our voices to make the case that yes, there are bad people out there, but they are not nearly as numerous as some would have you believe. I strongly believe in bridging divides, and I’ve seen the impact of building relationships across communities, challenging stereotypes and over time drawing support away from the extremes. This approach requires a fortitude beyond the grasp of those seeking instant gratification, quick fixes, and the temporary euphoria of a viral tweet.”
I share this staid and even stoic commitment to the long-term work of building better communities, while still nervously clinging to hopes of a viral tweet or two at some point down the road. I would even venture the claim that some, if not a great many of those written off by Dr. McCann share these methods and goals. As someone who has criticized tendencies on the left with some regularity, I would offer that “the divisiveness we see everywhere” is often weaker than the forces that would unite us. If McCann truly hopes to bridge divides, I am sure it would help to remove some of the straw from of the image created of those who aspire to many of the same objectives and learn who they truly are.
Jamie Bartlett, & Birdwell, J. (2013). Cumulative radicalisation between the far-right and Islamist groups in the UK: A review of evidence. Demos, 5, 3.
Joel Busher & Graham Macklin. (2015). Interpreting “Cumulative Extremism”: Six Proposals for Enhancing Conceptual Clarity, Terrorism and Political Violence, 27:5, 884-905,DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2013.870556
Alexander J. Carter. (2020). Cumulative Extremism: A Comparative Historical Analysis. London: Routledge.
Donatella Della Porta. (2013) Clandestine Political Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Roger Eatwell. (2006) Community Cohesion and Cumulative Extremism in Contemporary Britain, The Political Quarterly, Vol. 77, No. 2.
Julia Ebner, & Guhl J. (2018). Islamist and Far-Right Extremists: Rhetorical and Strategic Allies in the Digital Age. Radicalisation Research, https://www.radicalisationresearch.org/debate/ebner-islamist-far-right-extremists-rhetorical-digital-age/
Matthew Feldman. (2012). From Radical-Right Islamophobia to ‘Cumulative Extremism,’ FaithMatters.
Graham Macklin. (2020). Reciprocal radicalisation in Britain. DARE: Dialogue about Radicalisation and Equality
Patriot Coalition, (2020). Patriot Coalition PNW Daily Chatter Scrapes, https://eugeneantifa.noblogs.org/files/2020/09/Patriot-Coalition-PNW-Daily-Chatter-Scrapes.txt
Jason Wilson, & Evans R. (2020) Revealed: pro-Trump activists plotted violence ahead of Portland rallies, The Guardian, September 23, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/23/oregon-portland-pro-trump-protests-violence-texts
Dr Alexander Reid Ross is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right and an Instructor in the Geography Department at Portland State University and a Senior Data Analyst at the Network Contagion Research Institute. See full profile here.
© Alexander Reid Ross. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).