Right-Wing Violence More Likely Close to Midterm Election

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Counterprotesters attack a car at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Anaheim in February 2016. Photo Credit: Brian Levin

As the midterm elections approach this fall, experts are warning political violence could flare up, not necessarily another attack on the Capitol, but outbursts based on state or local issues.

A report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino found October 2018 — right before the last midterm election — was the second-worst month for hate crimes in the decade.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino and a co-author of the study, said the lights are flashing yellow.

“I know people are talking about civil war,” Levin acknowledged. “But what I’m more concerned about in the short term is regionalized conflicts and aggressions which get punctuated by plots or mass attacks or even attempts to injure or kill public officials.”

Levin pointed out too many grievances have devolved into aggression and conspiracy, fueled by social media, about what’s being taught in schools, public health regulations, and the way local election officials do their jobs.

He added insurrectionist doctrine has radicalized people, who increasingly see disputes as tyranny, leading some to feel justified in making threats, stockpiling weapons or worse. Levin warned the aggressive behavior will lead to a shortage of civil servants.

“It still has a corrosive intimidation aspect where people will say, ‘Why should I count ballots? Why should I be on school boards? Why should I be in the public-health sphere when I can go into the private sector?’ ” Levin stated.

Levin advised churches, abortion clinics, school boards and local governments to make sure they have adequate security. Last year the California state Legislature voted to establish a Commission on the State of Hate, but it has not yet held its first meeting.