A Look at the Threat of Far-Right Political Extremism

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5 mins read

Is the worse yet to come? So far, over 270 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. As investigations continue, more insurrectionists are sure to be arrested. But what do the arrests tell us about the crowd that day? We’ve learned that the attack was a preplanned and coordinated attack led by members of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and the 3 Percenters. Other groups, such as the Boogaloo Bois, militias, and various white supremacist, neo-Nazi organizations, coalesced with the planners on Jan. 6 and carried out the gravest threat to our democracy since the Civil War. And it isn’t over.

According to Politico “… some extremists who joined the Jan. 6 insurrection have discussed plans to attack the building during the State of the Union.” Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman stated in the article, “We know that members of the groups that were present on January 6th have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible.” That’s right, they want to kill as many representatives and senators as possible. Why? They want to “Make America Great Again.”

Far-right extremists fall into two, broad categories that overlap. One category contains the white nationalist/white supremacist groups who believe in a “white race” that is genetically and culturally superior to any other “races” and, therefore, should hold power in what they consider to be their nation. They also wish to defend the “white race” from an imagined threat of extinction. Examples are the Proud Boys, neo-Nazi groups, and the Boogaloo Bois, who want to spark a civil war between the races and to establish the U.S. as a white, Christian ethno-state. 

The other category consists of anti-government militias who view themselves as revolutionary heroes in a fight against tyrannical governments. They believe they are true patriots. An example is the 3 Percenters. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), their name comes from their erroneous claim that only three percent of colonists fought in the American Revolution and beat the tyrannical British. They “view themselves as a modern-day version of those revolutionaries, fighting against a tyrannical U.S. government.” They formed in opposition to Barack Obama winning the 2008 presidential election, primarily as an anti-gun regulation group as they feared his presidency would lead to more gun control.

The Oath Keepers, another anti-government militia group, claims membership in the tens of thousands. According to the ADL, which estimates its membership only at several thousand, the Oath Keepers was formed in 2009 after the election of the nation’s first Black president. Members are former law enforcement officials, military veterans, and first responders who vow to support the oaths they took to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” They claim to be real patriots.

It is no coincidence that both the 3 Percenters and the Oath Keepers formed after the election of President Obama. These groups share the same white supremacist beliefs as the Proud Boys and neo-Nazis: that they, as whites, are losing control of the nation. They want to return to the days before the civil rights movement when the government and much of our national culture excluded nonwhite citizens from education, work, housing choices, and voting rights. These far-right extremists aim to overthrow the government.

In our political reality in the United States, some citizens are far-right and some are far-left. We have seen what the far-right wants: the violent overthrow of democracy. The far-left, so-called socialists, want equality for all regardless of ethnicity, gender, religious belief, or sexual orientation. They want universal health care, a living wage for every American, and socially responsible capitalism. They want to remove voter suppression. They want to fight environmental destruction. They want to end child poverty. Who are the true patriots? Clearly not the far-right.


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Dr. Hank Cetola is a Professor Emeritus at Adrian College, Adrian, MI, and the founder of Lenawee Indivisible. He can be reached at lenaweeindivisible3@gmail.com.

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