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After the Buffalo shooting, experts wonder if America can deal with its problem of far-right extremism

In the pages of the alleged Buffalo shooter’s plan to attack a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, he described the radical ideals he said he cultivated on the internet.

It included racist and anti-Semitic rants reminiscent of sentiments espoused by shooters who committed similar atrocities in El Paso, Texas, and Charleston, North Carolina, in recent years, according to an ABC News review of the document.

Federal security agencies have increasingly sounded the alarm about white supremacists and other far-right extremists as a “significant national terrorist threat.”

However, hate experts in the United States said this recent mass shooting highlights how little action the country has taken to address the growing danger of white supremacy there.

“We’ve had too many wake-up calls at this point for me to be convinced that we’re suddenly going to change the current path we’re on,” said Michael Edison Hayden, senior investigative reporter at the Southern Poverty Law Center. , told ABC News.

White supremacists don’t just look like white-hooded Ku Klux Klan members from the history books, experts have said.

Radicalization can happen anywhere and with no particular group or organization to belong to thanks to the internet and the normalization of hateful rhetoric in the media, experts have said. This gives right-wing extremism an environment to thrive and grow.

“We understand better that this is a clear and present danger to American democracy,” Marc Morial, president of the civil rights organization National Urban League, told ABC News.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a nonprofit policy research organization, found that alleged right-wing attacks and conspiracies accounted for the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994.

“The last two years – 2021 and 2020 – have been the most recorded years of domestic terrorism, conspiracies and attacks, so the trends are quite concerning,” CSIS Senior Vice President Seth Jones said in a statement. an interview with ABC News.

However, Jones said the federal government needs to do a better job of collecting and publishing data on domestic terror attacks and plots and educating Americans about the seriousness of right-wing extremism.

There is no publication of such information, he said, which has made it very difficult for Americans to understand the seriousness of this problem.

Since 2014, CSIS has found that these attacks are on the rise. Simultaneously, hate crimes also increased, particularly anti-Black, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic attacks, according to FBI data.

“It’s a movement of hatred and violence,” Morial said. “He’s not someone who just rants on the internet.”

The normalization of white supremacy and the far-right’s growing divisive rhetoric, Hayden and Morial said, serve to exploit vulnerable populations’ concerns about social issues, score political points and win gains for people. in power.

“As long as very wealthy people are willing to exploit these angry feelings in the country, it’s going to continue to happen,” Hayden said.

“The reality is, they know what they’re doing when they bring up a great on-air replacement theory,” Hayden continued. “They know what they’re doing when they dehumanize immigrants. They know what kind of effect it’s going to have on people who are already predisposed to mistrust and fear.”

Experts have said there are two avenues to combat white supremacist extremism in America — personally and through politics.

For example, experts say the problem of gun violence in the United States has only made racist violence more deadly. White supremacy has been the motive for several fatal mass shootings in recent years, according to past ABC News reporting. Experts recommend gun control efforts as a potential solution to murderous extremism.

“This is a deeply rooted challenge in the United States, especially in a culture where individuals have such easy access to firearms,” ​​Jones said. “That’s the difference, frankly, between the US and Europe right now, which also has a significant white supremacist challenge in Germany, the UK, several Nordic countries. What they don’t have not, however, it is easy access to firearms.”

Others emphasize the importance of obtaining government funding for improved security in community centers and gathering places, as well as prevention programs and resources that intervene in the process of radicalization.

On a personal level, experts recommend speaking out against racism and white supremacy in your communities as another way to denormalize and distort racist narratives.

Experts also recommend being careful of loved ones who might encounter extremist ideals online and avoiding leaving them isolated. They say isolation and vulnerability can become a pathway to radicalization.

“Your silence is your acceptance,” Rashawn Ray, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told ABC News. “Unfortunately, it is part of the DNA that created the United States of America and while there has been progress, these kinds of incidents continue to show that we are not as far as we think. “, said Ray.

ABC News

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