By Hannah Allam, National Public Radio
The widespread embrace of conspiracy and disinformation amounts to a “mass radicalization” of Americans, and increases the risk of right-wing violence, veteran security officials and terrorism researchers warn.
At conferences, in op-eds and at agency meetings, domestic terrorism analysts are raising concern about the security implications of millions of conservatives buying into baseless right-wing claims. They say the line between mainstream and fringe is vanishing, with conspiracy-minded Republicans now marching alongside armed extremists at rallies across the country. Disparate factions on the right are coalescing into one side, analysts say, self-proclaimed “real Americans” who are cocooned in their own news outlets, their own social media networks and, ultimately, their own “truth.”
“This tent that used to be sort of ‘far-right extremists’ has gotten a lot broader. To me, a former counterterrorism official, that’s a radicalization process,” said Mary McCord, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw terrorism cases and who’s now a law professor at Georgetown University.
McCord was speaking at a recent online conference, Millions of Conversations, an organization aimed at reducing polarization. Along with McCord, several other former officials who served in senior national security roles said the mass embrace of bogus information poses a serious national security concern for the incoming Biden administration.