A survey by the University of Chicago finds that most Capitol Hill rioters had no ties to any fringe right-wing groups and were merely engaged people outraged by what they believed was a rigged election.
While colorful weirdos with names such as QAnon Shaman and Baked Alaska stole the headlines, people who were arrested by federal officials during and after the riot were a “broader core of people” with a healthy skepticism about the veracity of the November 2020 election, according to the study.
QAnon Shaman: 'I regret entering that building with every fibre of my body' https://t.co/YpLx4dhw57
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 5, 2021
There was plenty of reason for the skepticism, considering the collusion between Big Tech, unions, lawfare, and Democrats’ combined efforts to sway the election. Those efforts were at the very least unethical.
As Time Magazine enthused in an article entitled, “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election,” “there was a conspiracy unfolding behind the [election] scenes” of an “informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans” to “save” the election from Donald Trump.
The handshake between business and labor was just one component of a vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election–an extraordinary shadow effort dedicated not to winning the vote but to ensuring it would be free and fair, credible and uncorrupted. For more than a year, a loosely organized coalition of operatives scrambled to shore up America’s institutions as they came under simultaneous attack from a remorseless pandemic and an autocratically inclined President.
[…]Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears.
Rather than being ill-informed, it appears that the Capitol Building rioters may have been better informed than most on these moves to sway the election.
In a “working paper” that is considered to be a “novel approach” to “estimating community-level participation in mass protest events,” Asst. Prof. Austin Wright of the Harris School of Public Policy and David Van Dijcke of the University of Michigan found a surprising number of the people arrested at the Capitol Hill riot who were business owners and other professionals obviously upset over election fraud.
The paper found that those arrested were “more likely to have traveled to the Capitol from Trump-voting “islands,” where residents are surrounded by neighborhoods with higher numbers of Biden supporters.” More than half came from counties that Joe Biden carried.
Though the researchers include the fact that the overwhelming number of people live in Democrat areas, they also highlighted the fact “that proximity to Proud Boy chapters and local levels of engagement with misinformation posted on Parler, the exiled social media platform popular with the far right, are robustly linked to participation in the Capitol rally.”
However, researcher Austin Wright said living in those leftist areas “played a significant role.”
Social isolation and the perception of being threatened by neighboring areas that largely hold opposing political views also played a significant role in who was there.
The researchers also looked at cell phone data such as where in the country Capitol rioters called. Most were in the eastern, central, and southern parts of the country.
Could the cancel culture and being surrounded by people with Trump Derangement Syndrome and other anti-conservatives have helped trigger the attack?
They claimed some of the rioters were on the social media app Parler, though efforts to discover other social media apps used by the people arrested were not noted.
The survey found that approximately 10% percent of the Capitol rioters had a connection with Proud Boys, which they describe as a “hate group,” and Oath Keepers.
Nearly 90% had no ties or right-wing affiliations whatsoever.
And they found out that 85% of the people arrested were business owners or held down white-collar jobs.
WTTW TV reported that researchers hadn’t even needed a “business owner” category before when looking into protest groups. Robert Pape, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, oversaw the study and said the caliber of people at the riot was surprising.
“Normally, we don’t even have a category for ‘business owner’ when we study political violence, so this is a very big sign that we’re dealing with a new political movement with violence at its core that can’t be reduced to the usual suspects.”
President Trump also appealed to a wide variety of Americans from all socio-economic backgrounds. The fact that the rioters were not red-meat, right-wing fanatics threw researchers for a loop. It also forced some reflection by researchers about the people who believe there was election fraud, according to the study.
What we are dealing with here is not merely a mix of right-wing organizations, but a broader mass movement with violence at its core. We need to do more to understand who we are dealing with in the new movement. Targeting pre-2021 far right organizations alone will not solve the problem.
Perhaps they should consider that the 2020 election was seen by half the country as rigged. Election integrity efforts, not name-calling, lawfare, and canceling others who hold politically opposing views, will be key in winning back confidence in the elections process. If Democrats pass HR 1, all bets will be off.
Victoria Taft is the host of “The Adult in the Room Podcast With Victoria Taft” where you can hear her series on “Antifa Versus Mike Strickland.” Find it here.Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, MeWe, Minds @VictoriaTaft
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