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Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Dr. Erroll Southers | September 10, 2020

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Dr. Erroll Southers| September 10, 2020

White Supremacist Violent Extremism: How Can It be Prevented


Watch the event here.

Professor David Schanzer joined David Gartenstein-Ross and Dr. Erroll Southers in a conversation about white supremacy and white supremacist violence in the United States. Gartenstein-Ross and Dr. Southers are two of the country’s foremost experts on white supremacist extremism; Gartenstein-Ross is a senior advisor on asymmetric warfare at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Dr. Southers is a professor of National and Homeland Security at the University of Southern California. The discussion covered a range of issues relating to white supremacy and white supremacist violence in the U.S., including recent trends in white supremacist organizations, attempts at preventive actions, and what needs to be undertaken by policymakers to adequately address the threat.

The conversation began with a discussion of the patterns and trend lines surrounding white supremacist violent extremism, which, as the panelists noted, has cost more lives on U.S. soil than any other ideologically-motivated violence in the past several years. They noted two trends: transnationalism and accelerationism, which has pushed the movement from a defensive proposition to an offensive proposition and led to the surge in white supremacist violence. Dr. Southers noted that the view of pandemic-driven government overreach has also provided a backdrop for these ideologies to grow. Gartenstein-Ross suggested a typology of four types of white supremacist extremist groups: white genocide, Neo-Nazi, white power skinheads, and white nationalism. The panelists noted that each of these groups poses distinct threats, and suggested how national security policy should address the rising threat (including a discussion on defining domestic terrorist groups). Dr. Southers noted that for the ideologies to thrive, they need an alienated individual, legitimizing ideology, and enabling environment; policy should therefore engage in prevention methodologies and aim to create an environment that does not enable the spread of these ideologies.

The discussion then turned to a Q&A, where the panelists addressed how internet forums have contributed to the surge of transnationalism and subsequent violence, how the government can improve interagency cooperation in order to prevent attacks, how the intelligence around this issue can improve, how reporting and the media portrayals of social justice efforts may impact the rise of white supremacist extremist violence, and the potential for successful de-programming and de-radicalization.