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CSUSB professor discusses the possible increase of violence as Nov. 3 election nears
The Orange County Register
Sept. 7, 2020

As a bitterly divided nation barrels toward the Nov. 3 presidential election, experts who study domestic terrorism and extremism are alarmed by the escalating civil unrest across the country, with Cal State San Bernardino criminal justice professor Brian Levin, warning that “once violence becomes more normalized, it doesn’t go back in the shell.”

An apparent “arms race” that seems to be starting up among members of the far right and the hard left is extremely disturbing, especially as the nation heads into the thick of the political season, said Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSUSB, pointing out that the fatal Portland shooting during a protest on Sept. 2 was the first known killing by a left-wing extremist antifa supporter.

“The Portland incident is an outlier but also a bellwether,” he said. “Once violence becomes more normalized, it doesn’t go back in the shell.”

As he looks at the extremist landscape, Levin says he sees a variety of threats, largely on the far right, but also some on the left.

“You have a perfect storm in this country with a polarized population, a presidential election, a global pandemic that is frustrating and devastating people, and disinformation and conspiracy theories spreading on social media,” he said. “The biggest threat is still, far-right white supremacist groups. But you also see that Facebook has become fertile soil for the mushrooming of small groups and lone actors.”

Read the complete article at “As Nov. 3 election draws near, fears mount of escalating street violence.”

CSUSB professor interviewed about federal report naming white supremacists at U.S. greatest terror threat
KCBS Radio (San Francisco)
Sept. 6, 2020

A new, draft report from the Department of Homeland Security shows that domestic terrorism, specifically white supremacy, poses the greatest terrorist threat to the U.S. 

Three separate versions of the document all came to that conclusion. 

Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, said the report cited large rallies by white supremacists and white nationalists.  

“We saw more of the bigger rallies in the 2.5 years leading just into and after Charlottesville, than we did in the previous 10 to 15 years,” Levin told KCBS Radio. 

Levin said it's clear what form of terrorism is increasing. 

“What we're seeing is a diversifying threat matrix, where folks at different ends of the ideological spectrum are borrowing tactics,” he said. “They’re arming themselves and now were seeing a greater diversity of people, some of whom are not hardened extremists, but they’re showing up at protests and they’re armed.” 

Levin added that it’s bound to get worse as we get closer to the presidential election.  

Listen to the interview at “DHS draft report names white supremacy as greatest terrorist threat to U.S.

'Here It Is': Extremism researchers worry about the rising violence during protests
Sept. 4, 2020

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, was interviewed for a segment on the program “All Things Considered” on the increasing violence between extremists on far left and far right, including the Sept. 2, clash in Portland, Ore., that left one man dead, and later, the suspected shooter.

 “For us, it wasn't a question of if; it was a question of when, and here it is,” Levin said.

Listen to the segment at ‘Here it is:’ Extremism researchers worry about the rising violence during protests.

Specter of violence surrounding presidential election discussed by CSUSB professor
The Forward
Sept. 7, 2020

The online publication reported, “If Donald Trump is reelected president, expect more violence from white nationalists and far-right extremist groups. If he is not reelected, expect more violence as well.

“That’s the depressing forecast from numerous experts monitor US-based extremist groups,” including Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino.

Levin said, “When fringe groups perceive their allies in the mainstream to be losing political clout and their own status eroding, they tend to act more violently.”

Read the complete article at If Trump wins reelection – or loses – expect more right-wing violence, experts warn.”

‘Escalating arms race’ between extremists on the left and right discussed by CSUSB professor
USA Today
Sept. 4, 2020

The sheer size and scope of the street protests that have gripped the nation are also bringing out different types of demonstrators, said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. 

"Today the protests are more widespread and dispersed creating a greater diversity of people showing up over a longer expanse of time," he said. 

That's a change, says Levin. The hard left has been more about using humiliation tactics on opponents who are perceived as bigots and trying to get them to retreat. The hard right has been more about what it sees as protecting turf, a "defense vigilantism" that models itself on being a civil guard.

Now, with peaceful protestors on both sides having to contend with armed interlopers showing up at demonstrations, it's "an escalating arms race," Levin said.

Read the complete article at “‘Arms race': How the Portland shooting shows protesters on the right and the left are bringing guns.”

QAnon’s spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina discussed by CSUSB professor
Balkan Insight (East Europe)
Sept. 7, 2020

An article on the global spread of the QAnon conspiracy theory into Bosnia and Herzegovina included an interview with Kevin Grisham, associate director of research for CSUSB’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Despite Facebook’s efforts to ban postings and pages related to the conspiracy theory, the newspaper reported that “QAnon has expanded to about 70 countries, including the Balkans. QAnon Balkan, for example, has more than 8,500 members, QAnon Serbia 2,700, and QAnon Croatia almost 7,800 members, significantly more than the Bosnian group.

“While all of these numbers seem small compared to the United States or some European countries, Kevin Grisham, assistant director of the Center for Hate and Extremism Research at California State University in San Bernardino, says ‘You don’t need a large group of people for organisation and demonstration.’

“‘Even if 20, 30, 40 or 50 people feel motivated to do something that is already a considerable power. In the times of virtual activism even a small number of people can have a significant power,” he told BIRN.

“The best example is QAnon, which started as a small group, but now acts globally. The current number of conspiracy theory movements is not so alarming as is the speed at which the number of members, sympathisers and supporters grows.”

Read the complete article, translated by Google, at “QAnon gets foothold in Balkans, claiming COVID-19 ‘does not exist.’

CSUSB professor writes on the problem of insularity
Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel
Aug. 24, 2020

Anthony Silard, a CSUSB public administration professor and an award-winning scholar, author and international consultant, wrote in a guest column for the newspaper: “With a constant queue of people vying for our attention on social media and email, many of us have greatly reduced the number of people we’re willing to speak with in real-time by phone or in person. While many prior friends have been expelled from our inner circles, there has been a surprising benefit to another social group: direct family members.”

Read the complete article at “We need human interaction to stay connected in insular world | Commentary.”

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