Extremism does not exist without ideological indoctrination, and in fact the ideology is part and parcel the fuel of all extremism. Each branch of extremist thought has it own ideological foundation, whether based on religion, the demonization of racial groups, government distrust, and so on. One commonality is that each group attempts to justify their ideology, through current events, which lends some semblance of credence to it and emboldens extremist thought.
In the eyes of those susceptible to extremist thought, no matter how false an ideology is, extremists will find something in current events, modern society, or what have you, to justify it.
As an example; Apples are bad:
- Apples can fall from trees and hurt you
- Statistically speaking, more people die from apple tree related injuries, than shark attacks
- Apples can hurt your teeth and gums if you have dental issues
- Apples can be thrown at people
- People can get hurt or even die playing “William Tell,” with apples
- Here are some articles about people getting hurt by apples [Insert articles here, easily found online]
Quite literally, you can demonize anything and anyone in the exact method mentioned above. Once demonized you then can justify it through shallow and base examples given by finding tangible articles and examples. Using this logic, just as you might believe apples (or people, or governments) are bad, you can easily justify why anything is bad or wrong and must be combatted. This is especially true when you only look at the surface level of something.
One thing people often hear within the racially motivated extremist movements is that black people account for half of all violent crime, yet only make up 13% of the population. This is a crime statistic often used by white racialists to demonize black people in America, yet no one holding this ideology asks the question of “Why is this?”
A closer examination would show that over half of all black children grow up without a father in the house, this too can be used to further demonize black people, but again I ask why is the black fatherless household so high? Firstly, it can be proven statistically that children in single parent households, more often than those in two-parent households, are more apt to drop out of school. Without a high school diploma, unemployment and under employment are par for the course. Poverty breeds hopelessness and criminality.
So why is the fatherless rate so high within the black community? Well, disproportionately, black people, more over black males are targets of violence, gangs, and some police who may have a racial bias due to their observations of the impoverished communities they serve. This all leads to higher incarceration rates within the black American sectors and even those released from prisons, often return to prison because of difficulties in finding gainful employment with a felonious record.
So, if you’re just looking at the surface of an issue, in this instance 13% of the population responsible for over half of all violent crime, then it becomes easier to use it to justify the demonization of black men in America. Therefore, the ideology may be false, but it can use very real surface level statistics to justify it in the eyes of new recruits and fellow extremists. This is even more emboldened when racialists hold rallies and are attacked by people of color, often you will hear after an encounter “See they are animals,” even though they are knowingly being instigated by those at the rally.
Honestly, when I was in the movement and we would be attacked by Antifa members, it brought us closer together. We often felt more emboldened and justified in the ideology we held because of the attacks from the other side. No one left the movement or had a change of heart after an encounter with violent anti-racists/fascists and if anything, it fed into our camaraderie and beliefs. Pro and Anti violent extremists feed from one another, embolden one another, and make one another more violent and extreme in the long run. Furthermore, the mutual violence was used to justify their individual ideologies.
By now you should see how easy it is for one to justify nearly any ideology by cherry picking surface level stats and instigating opposition to a violent reaction to rhetoric. This is the balance maintained by extremists; housing and espousing a false ideological narrative that can be mildly (surface level) justified and utilized to scapegoat anything and anyone, at any time. This is done in politics today as well. People choose a side and vehemently defend their position, while dehumanizing dissenting beliefs. It is this methodology that has left America more divided than ever; by race, political party, religion, or by individual choice. Almost all of the aforementioned divisions continue to fuel extremist ideologies, as well as violent reactions and outbursts.
When you can create a narrative of black and white, good and evil, dissolving any grey areas, then justify it with the methods mentioned above, you have created a powder keg waiting to be lit. A quick look at the January 6th capital uprising is a prime example of just that!
The problem is people identify as everything and anything except for as an individual human being. Strip away politics, your job, your religion, your race, your nationality, your age, your socioeconomic status, any media influences and what one is left with is who you truthfully are. We are all human beings, but many seem to have forgotten that and replaced it with ideology often reinforced with surface level statistics and false equivalence verifications for confirmation bias.
Take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and on the left write all of the differences you have with any race or group of people you’ve held prejudices against. On the right side write down all of the commonalities you share with them. Genuinely take the time to write in minute detail both sides, from skin color, and the physiological to things like food, water, number of fingers, hopes and dreams we all share. I guarantee if you genuinely took the time to do this, you’d find we easily have ten times the similarities than differences.
© 2021 Frederick W. Cook