Tuesday, August 06, 2019

NYTimes offers pessimistic view of how to deal with (especially right wing) domestic extremism

I discussed the NYTimes editorial on the Issues blog, but now I see the NYTimes print headline that produced outrage, “Trump urges unity vs. racism”, link.  (Umair Haque continued this story on Medium.)
The New York Times continues a discussion which, in my own setup, I placed first on my “Bill on Major Issues” blog Sunday, with an article by Nicole Perlroth et al 

The article is correct in that in practice it is harder for law enforcement and the criminal justice system to ferret out true terror dangers from white supremacy than it was for radical Islam, because the former is closer to our own political power center, and because of the “stochastic terrorism” risk inherent in memes, dog whistles (which change) and the difficulties in drawing lines as to what is acceptable behavior, where attitudes about personal association are less private in the Internet age and can have insidious public consequences.

It’s also true that gun control alone will not remove threats which could be carried out in other ways (in Japan there was an arson incident; in Sweden, as Tim Pool has pointed out, there have been grenades). But there is no excuse for Congress’s not implementing some reasonable gun control reforms.

The article mentions that the scale of tech platforms makes it impossible to draw lines effectively in policing inciteful speech, and that the supposed tech prejudice against conservatives may be deceptive because the extreme right generally has more capacity to create extreme damage than the extreme left (Antifa notwithstanding, or even Dayton).

Tim Pool, above, refutes Trump's placing emphasis on the "dangers" of video games.  Pewdiepie and Minecraft are not a problem. 

The problem does have to do with the problems with a hyperindividualistic society in which many people simply cannot function as expected, so they tend to rejoin tribes where they find more sense of purpose.  Our problems may not be so much with racism as with cognitive ableism.

Update:  Aug 9

The Wall Street Journal offers an op-ed by Clint Watts as a Saturday essay on how to fight specifically bottom-up domestic terrorism. It notes that extremists have been driven into corners by major social media. 

Update: Aug 12

From USA Today, here is an op-ed by R. Derek Black, "This is how white nationalists think about shootings", p 5A in the print edition (I bough it today), tricky URL.   However the deplatformings and payment processor cutoffs he supports have ensnared people who are not white nationalists by the usual meaning. 

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