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Heidi Beirich: What can we do about these rising threats?

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<v ->Hi, there, my name is Heidi Beirich.</v> I’m the Co-Founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. And I’m here today to talk to you about what you can do about rising hate groups and extremism in the US as we all saw with the January 6th storming of the Capitol. This is a very fraught time right now for extremist politics in the nation to the point where extreme right groups were involved in trying to overthrow an election. I’ve been studying hate groups for 20 plus years. And we have seen a situation nowadays that is more intense, more extreme than at any point in that entire time.
There are more extremists, conspiracy theorists and all kinds of, you know, racially driven hate groups out there that have been involved in hate crimes and domestic terrorism like we saw at the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, the Walmart in El Paso, an attack on immigrants. And a lot of us are asking ourselves, “Well, what is it that we can do about this?” Let me say first off that for the most part, this is a law enforcement matter.
It’s up to the FBI and other law enforcement folks to figure out ways to infiltrate these groups and to break them up and to arrest people who are involved in crimes like we’ve seen with the dozens and dozens of people who’ve been arrested recently by the FBI in the wake of the capital attack. But there are things that you can do is just a regular person. Perhaps most importantly is to learn about these movements, become educated, you know, study up on them, and understand what the threat is to our democracy and our society of these groups. Learn about hate crimes and the rising numbers of hate crimes in which communities are targeted.
All of this information is really important to be able to make informed decisions about what to do about rising extremism in the US and actually around the world. The other thing that’s really important here is to take a stand. And by that, it can include things, like writing letters, to the editor against this lobbying your Congress people and local officials to do something about hate crimes and extremism. But it also starts at home, meaning in some ways, the most important thing that people can do is work in their own communities to create environment where everybody feels welcome. There’ve been many activities in different communities across the country to do so.
I was personally involved in an effort in Whitefish, Montana after a really, really noxious neo-Nazi attacked a Jewish family there. To create a welcoming environment, this involved a whole host of positive events, interfaith events that were basically held to show the best parts of the Whitefish community, and how the entire community rejects extremism and stands up for its neighbors. These kinds of activities are really, really important. So you, if you have an opportunity to be engaged in multicultural events, events that welcome immigrants to your community, these are things you can do.
Another personal thing you can do is you can stand with the victims of hate crimes, being outspoken about the problem of hate crimes and working in your community with those who are targeted, and to protect them, and to support them. This is really, really important. And don’t forget to use your social media accounts to speak out for diversity, for inclusion, for our democracy. These are all things that you can do to make the world a better place and to fight back against extremism. Because ultimately, if we all speak out, then those who are pushing divisive and polarizing ideas will be pushed to the margins which is where they should be.

What can you do?

In this video, Heidi speaks about ways in which we can take action to curb extremist movements in the United States. She encourages us to learn about these various groups to understand why they exist and what they do. She also encourages us to take action through community-driven events that bring diverse groups together in solidarity with those impacted by hate crimes or discrimination.

What actions might you consider taking in your own community?

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