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RAND study finds support for extremism lower among vets despite Democratic narrative

A RAND Corporation study released on Tuesday found that support for extremist groups and ideals was lower among military veterans than the general population, despite a Democratic and left-leaning media narrative suggesting it is higher.

After some Trump supporters stormed into the Capitol on January 6, 2020, the media focused on the participation of veterans, and the Biden administration and military leaders embarked on an effort to rid the army of “extremists”.

However, the RAND report found that “significantly fewer” veterans expressed support for Antifa and “significantly lower support” for white supremacy than the American population as a whole.

“Veterans also expressed relatively less support for the Proud Boys (4.2% vs. 9%) and the QAnon conspiracy theory (13.5% vs. 17%). About 5% of participants expressed support for black nationalist groups,” he added.

Interestingly, the study found that Marine Corps veterans reported the highest levels of support for Antifa, the Proud Boys, and black nationalists, as well as the highest levels of support for political violence and violence. Great Replacement theory.

ANTIFA protesters demonstrate on the University of Utah campus against an event where right-wing writer and commentator Ben Shapiro speaks on September 27, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

He also said that only a minority of veterans who expressed support for extremist groups also endorsed the need for political violence.

“We found no evidence to support the idea that the veteran community, as a whole, exhibits higher rates of support for violent extremist groups or extremist beliefs than the American public,” said said Todd C. Helmus, the study’s lead author and behavior manager. scientist at RAND.

“However, our findings suggest there is still work to be done to ensure that veterans are not susceptible to recruitment by those with extremist ideologies,” he added.

The study was the first nationally representative survey of veterans’ views on extremism and extremist groups.

The report acknowledged “fears” that support for extremism among veterans is higher.

“Given anecdotal information about extremist groups’ recruitment preferences and their active targeting of veterans, we would have assumed that these reported prevalence rates would be higher,” Helmus said.

Still, Helmus said work “may” still be needed to “ensure veterans aren’t susceptible.”

“[O]Our findings suggest that more work needs to be done to ensure veterans are not susceptible to recruitment by those with extremist ideologies,” Helmus said.

“It seems clear that veterans bring a unique and dangerous set of abilities to extremist groups,” said study co-author and RAND senior behavioral researcher Ryan Andrew Brown. “Thus, even a lower prevalence rate of extremist attitudes among veterans could still pose an outsized threat to the security of the United States.”

The study interviewed a group of veterans from the NORC AmeriSpeak panel in November and December 2022.

Flashback: Susan Rice assures reporters Intel community is focused on ‘domestic violent extremism’, ‘nationalists’

The White House

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