Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were driven largely by fears that white people will be replaced by people of color as the American majority, according to a University of Chicago research study. Robert A. Pape, a professor of political science and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, conducted an analysis of 377 Americans arrested or charged in the Capitol insurrection. His findings were unsettling, showing that rioters largely were driven over concerns about what has become known as "The Great Replacement Theory," a topic Tucker Carlson has ranted about on Fox News recently.
What about specifics from the Pape study? Here they are:
The Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a violent mob at the behest of former president Donald Trump was an act of political violence intended to alter the outcome of a legitimate democratic election. That much was always evident.
What we know 90 days later is that the insurrection was the result of a large, diffuse and new kind of protest movement congealing in the United States.
The Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), working with court records, has analyzed the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans, from 250 counties in 44 states, arrested or charged in the Capitol attack.
Those involved are, by and large, older and more professional than right-wing protesters we have surveyed in the past. They typically have no ties to existing right-wing groups. But like earlier protesters, they are 95 percent White and 85 percent male, and many live near and among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties.
The charges have, so far, been generally in proportion to state and county populations as a whole. Only Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Montana appear to have sent more protesters to D.C. suspected of crimes than their populations would suggest.
Nor were these insurrectionists typically from deep-red counties. Some 52 percent are from blue counties that Biden comfortably won. But by far the most interesting characteristic common to the insurrectionists’ backgrounds has to do with changes in their local demographics: Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.
For example, Texas is the home of 36 of the 377 charged or arrested nationwide. The majority of the state’s alleged insurrectionists — 20 of 36 — live in six quickly diversifying blue counties such as Dallas and Harris (Houston). In fact, all 36 of Texas’s rioters come from just 17 counties, each of which lost White population over the past five years. Three of those arrested or charged hail from Collin County north of Dallas, which has lost White population at the very brisk rate of 4.3 percent since 2015.
The same thing can be seen in New York state, home to 27 people charged or arrested after the riot, nearly all of whom come from 14 blue counties that Biden won in and around New York City. One of these, Putnam County (south of Poughkeepsie), is home to three of those arrested, and a county that saw its White population decline by 3.5 percent since 2015.
Here is where it gets really interesting:
When compared with almost 2,900 other counties in the United States, our analysis of the 250 counties where those charged or arrested live reveals that the counties that had the greatest decline in White population had an 18 percent chance of sending an insurrectionist to D.C., while the counties that saw the least decline in the White population had only a 3 percent chance. This finding holds even when controlling for population size, distance to D.C., unemployment rate, and urban/rural location. It also would occur by chance less than once in 1,000 times.
Put another way, the people alleged by authorities to have taken the law into their hands on Jan. 6 typically hail from places where non-White populations are growing fastest.
Pape's deep dive then gets even deeper:
CPOST also conducted two independent surveys in February and March, including a National Opinion Research Council survey, to help understand the roots of this rage. One driver overwhelmingly stood out: fear of the “Great Replacement.” Great Replacement theory has achieved iconic status with white nationalists and holds that minorities are progressively replacing White populations due to mass immigration policies and low birthrates. Extensive social media exposure is the second-biggest driver of this view, our surveys found. Replacement theory might help explain why such a high percentage of the rioters hail from counties with fast-rising, non-White populations.
While tracking and investigating right-wing extremist groups remains a vital task for law enforcement, the best intelligence is predictive. Understanding where most alleged insurrectionists come from is a good starting point in identifying areas facing elevated risks of further political violence. At the very least, local mayors and police chiefs need better intelligence and sounder risk analysis.
To ignore this movement and its potential would be akin to Trump’s response to covid-19: We cannot presume it will blow over. The ingredients exist for future waves of political violence, from lone-wolf attacks to all-out assaults on democracy, surrounding the 2022 midterm elections.
Let's consider a few questions all of this raises.
* If you are obsessed with the New Replacement Theory -- to the point of attacking the U.S. Capitol or taking other destructive actions -- does that mean you are a white supremacist?
* If so, does that mean you are likely to support Russian meddling in U.S. elections -- or to at least not be all that bothered by it?
* Are white supremacists likely to embrace nondemocratic ideas, to act in traitorous ways?
* Does white supremacy drive some Americans to support political candidates who clearly are incompetent, uncaring, and lacking in integrity? Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Mo Brooks, Josh Hawley, and Lindsey Graham are a few such politicos who come to mind.
* Are white supremacists likely to attack friends -- even family members -- who do not share their views?
This last item hits especially close to home. I've seen signs that white supremacy has infiltrated my own family and caused tremendous damage. This seemingly happened when I was in Alabama, while other family members were in Missouri, so I'm not sure how it happened. But I have theories -- and evidence -- and I might address them in upcoming posts. On the other hand, the subject is so painful and distressing -- and embarrassing -- that I'm not sure I want to address it in a public forum. We'll see. For now, I can say these two things: (1) I never thought I would see a day when I felt the slightest embarrassment about my family. But signs of racism are ugly and alarming -- and they can change your perspective in a major way; (2) To those who have suffered at the hands of white supremacists: I know, at least a little bit, how you feel.
Nice column, Roger. I hadn't heard of that study. Thank you!
Nice column, Roger. I hadn't seen that study. Thank you.
You're sure welcome, Andrew Might make a nice expanded piece for JIP. I think this UofChicago guy did a really important piece of xocial-science work. And who knows what threats of violence we might face in the future, maybe the near future. Glad I could help get this out there because I think it floated under the radar just a bit.
Thanks for reporting on this, LS. Fascinating research study. Props to the professor and his team who put this together in Chicago.
Yes, definitely props to the professor and his team. I imagine they were working on a tight deadline. To conduct in-depth research on such a recent and time-sensitive event I'm sure is a challenge. I would say this is social-science at its best nnd most immediate.
I would love to see Prof. Pape turn this study into a book. Along with that, I would love to see a strong PR effort to get this covered by 60 Minutes, CNN, etc. We desperately need a reckoning on matters of race, and perhaps, this study could be the driving force. Rachel Maddow, or others at MSNBC, could devote a full hour to this, or more.
So, whites are uncomfortable around too many blacks? Gee, stop the presses. We really need a research study to tell us that?
What if the shoe's on the other foot? It's one of those kinds of deals. Whites don't like the idea of being outnumbered, maybe because they know they've treated people of color so badly.
Is this Great Replacement Theory driving Trumpers to drink the Kool-Aid and support a president who is unfit, incompetent, corrupt and violently opposed to Democratic principles?
The white birth rate might be higher if our society didn't make it so hard to raise a family on a middle-class income. Of course, birth rates by color shouldn't matter, but the issue has inflamed such passions that it cause some people to attack the U.S. Capitol.
It also might help if we had more stability in the workplace. If you ever get into a controversy at work and consult an attorney about it, you are going to hear: "In America, under our laws, you can be fired for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all." The only protection is that an employer can't retaliate or discriminate based on certain protected classes -- race, gender, age, etc. Without union protection, many American workers are essentially working on day-to-day contracts.
And finding a lawyer to take your case can be difficult, if not impossible. For every attorney who represents employees, there are dozens (maybe 100s)who represent employers. The numbers are skewed wildly in favor of corporations.
So, a lot of the rioters came from blue or purple counties that Biden carried?
Yes, that's probably the single most intriguing finding from this study. The white population in those blue and purple counties is declining, and whites who live there can see the change happening right before their eyes. That apparently has driven some conservatives (white supremacists?) over the edge -- to support an attack on our government, to overturn an honest and correct election. Some people in these counties seemingly have lost their ability to think rationally. Are these the people who think Trump is going to be re-installed come August?
All sorts of breaking news today about Jan. 6 --
CNN: Officer injured in Capitol riot blasts GOP lawmaker's behavior as 'disgusting' after tense exchange
A DC Metropolitan Police officer who defended the US Capitol on January 6 blasted GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde on Wednesday evening for what he called "disgusting" behavior during a tense exchange.
Michael Fanone, who was stun-gunned several times and beaten with a flagpole during the riot, told CNN's Don Lemon on "Don Lemon Tonight" that he had come across Clyde in the Capitol and had been dismissed by the congressman after approaching him outside an elevator Wednesday afternoon.
Fanone's account comes after 21 House Republicans, including Clyde, voted against legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the officers who had defended the Capitol. The vote stood as the latest reminder that members of Congress still cannot agree on the facts of the deadly January 6 riot, and prompted the officer's visit to Capitol Hill.
CNN: The story of January 6 will be told
While Democrats and Republicans continue to clash over how to investigate what happened at the Capitol on January 6, it's likely that the lasting narrative will be shaped not only by journalism and historical writing, but also by pop culture. In the end, this cultural approach to politics might be a more effective approach to dealing with 1/6 than the government.
After all, the odds of the nation being able to count on a bipartisan January 6 commission keep getting worse. Senate Republicans were able to stifle the commission that the House of Representatives had voted to create and that would have been charged with investigating what happened on the day of the election certification, when violent mobs stormed Capitol Hill, threatening the lives of legislators and the vice president. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell switched his tune, moving away from the condemnatory speech that he delivered after the Senate voted against removing President Trump following his second impeachment. Protecting his party going into the 2022 midterms became McConnell's priority.
n 1964, at the height of the Cold War, some of the strongest warnings about the threat of nuclear war came from Hollywood. In "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," Stanley Kubrick directed and produced a classic comedy starring Peter Sellers that warned viewers of how easily a nuclear war could unfold if the wrong people were in charge. Although many critics disparaged the movie for suggesting that a mentally unstable general could trigger a nuclear war, the film was more spot on than many realized about the ways in which presidents didn't have total control of the situation.
Following Watergate, "All the President's Men" (1976), starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, focused on two reporters who broke the story of the Watergate conspiracy. The reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, upon whose book the film was based, told the story of the rampant corruption that had existed in President Richard Nixon's White House as the administration tried to cover up its connection to the burglary of the Democratic National Convention headquarters.
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