Scholars and media frequently discuss the influence of far-right extremism on US national politics, but the reshaping of state and local government and public institutions has been less studied, and is arguably still more significant. Initiatives such as legislation on culture-war issues, the redrawing of voting districts, curricular oversight, and the removal of books from libraries raise questions about how social movements and activists interact with public officials. This second Mershon Center symposium on the mainstreaming of far-right extremism considers the strategies of influence that pose threats to democratic institutions. Thirteen presentations of original research consider the growing visibility of extreme viewpoints, digital echo chambers, the role of militias, and the assimilation of far-right views into conservative politics.
Wednesday, March 20
Hampton Stall & Roudabeh Kishi
From COVID Rebellion to Trans Panic: Process Tracing Mobilization and Threats in an Overlapping Right-Wing Media Landscape
Anneliese Ward, Anneliese Schenk-Day, Mo Woods, Dana Haynie
Mainstreaming Extremism: State Characteristics Associated with the Passage of Anti-Transgender Legislation in the United States (2020-2022)
The Ebb and Flow of Far-Right Extremism with Public Education within the United States
Parvati Singh, Marquianna Griffin, Rania Badran, Nisha Saranat, Amy Fairchild, Kamesha Spates
White supremacist murders of Black persons and Black youth suicides in the US, 2010-2019: A Time Series Analysis.
Responders 10am to 10:30am
Selin Yanik Koc
Destruction from Within? Right-Wing Extremists and External Interference
White Supremacism and Antisemitism on Mainstream Social Media: Themes, Mechanisms of Operation and Dissemination Strategies
The Rise and Fall of QAnon: Tension between Recruitment and Radicalization in Online Extremist Movements
Responders 12p to 12:30p
Thursday, March 21
Priya Dixit, Carolyn Gallaher
County Capture and Legitimation of Armed Groups: The Role of Militias in County Governments in the United States
Mia Bloom, Sophia Moskakenko, Hope Lafreniere
Assessing the extent of right wing insider threats within the US Military
Responders 10am to 10:30am
Andrew R. Mackey
Unholy Alliances? The Unseen Religious Impact on Ohio’s Political Landscape
“RINO Hunting:” Internecine Assassination and Terrorism Within the American Far-Right
Laura Dugan & Jack Wippell
Support, Scorn or Silence: When do state leaders take a stand?
Mia Bloom is a Professor of Communication and Middle East Studies and the International Security Fellow at New America. She conducts ethnographic field research in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia and speaks eight languages. Author of Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror (2005), Living Together After Ethnic Killing; with Roy Licklider; (2007), Bombshell: Women and Terror (2011), Small Arms: Children and Terror (2019), and Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon with Sophia Moskalenko (2021). Bloom's next book, Veiled Threats will be published with Cornell University Press. Bloom is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has held research or teaching appointments at Princeton, Cornell, Harvard and McGill Universities. Bloom is the editor for Stanford University Press’ series on terrorism and political violence. She is regularly featured as an expert contributor on CNN, CNN International, MSNBC and Fox News for terrorism and national security issues. Bloom is a member of the UN terrorism research network (UNCTED) and a member of the radicalization expert advisory board for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Bloom holds a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University, an M.A. in Arab Studies from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a B.A. from McGill University in Russian, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.
Priya Dixit, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at Virginia Tech University. Her research interests are critical security studies (especially terrorism); qualitative research methodologies (especially discourse analysis and ethnography) and postcolonial theory in International Relations.
Currently, Dr. Dixit is researching the role played by Gurkhas in global security, taking a historical and comparative approach. She is also working on how the "war on terror" (and terrorism in general) is visualized and communicated by different social actors. A related interest is on U.S. foreign policy/national security and its conceptualization of threats, specifically the use of terrorism by states.
Laura Dugan, Ph.D., holds the Ralph D. Mershon Professorship in Human Security and is a Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University. Her research, focusing on the reduction of violence and insecurities from extremist ideologies, involves extensive data collection and analysis. Dr. Dugan co-leads the Government Actions in Terrorist Environments (GATE) and the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), contributing significantly to the field with numerous publications.
Amy Fairchild, Ph.D., is Professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Policy Research and the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion and Population Health. Fairchild is a historian who works at the intersection of social history, politics, and public health ethics. Her work has focused on how social movements, political action, scientific debate, and professional tools and values have interacted to shape the politics of public health over time.
Fairchild consistently links the past to ethical and political issues in the present, helping to highlight history as an important discipline for providing insight into contemporary public health challenges. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.
Daren Fisher, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Hampton University. Before joining Hampton, Dr. Fisher served as an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at The Citadel. His research interests include the relationship between government actions and subsequent terrorism, criminological theory, policing, and crime prevention. Daren specializes in empirically testing the predictions of criminological theory to better inform government policies that aim to reduce crime using econometric methods and qualitative approaches.
Carolyn Gallagher, Ph.D., is Professor in the School of International Service at American University. Dr. Gallagher researches organized violence by non-state actors and urban politics. She authored two books on militias and paramilitaries, and her work on these topics has been published in journals like Space and Polity and Antipode. Currently, she is researching tenant rights in Washington D.C. and cross-border cooperation in policing drug cartels.
Hope LaFreniere is a doctoral student in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies at UMass Lowell. She began her doctoral work in the terrorism track in Fall 2020. LaFrieniere received her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications/Broadcasting at West Texas A&M University in 2014 where she focused on ethics, law, and videography. She received her Master of Security Studies from Angelo State University in 2018 where she approached security threats with an interdisciplinary approach ranging across various topics including terrorism, human rights, rogue states, and energy security. Her primary research concerns include power dynamics and radicalization.
Andrew Mackey is an EdD student in Interdisciplinary Leadership at Creighton University specializing in crisis leadership. His research sits at the convergence of crisis communications, political science, digital media, and security. Mackey spent two decades in communication and political roles with experience within government, the Catholic Church, and higher education. He holds degrees in Political Science from The Ohio State University and Communication with certification in Crisis Communications from the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University.
Jeffery Patterson, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Texas Tech University with a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia (2022), specializes in Social Control, Organizations, and Knowledge/Beliefs. His current research delves into conspiracy theories and contested knowledge, the intersection of mental illness and social control, and the social control of nature. Patterson's academic journey and professional focus reflect a deep engagement with these dynamic and contemporary sociological themes.
Dakota Rudesill is a faculty member at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and an affiliate of the Mershon Center since 2013, specializing in legislation and national security law. His work, including leadership of the Ohio State National Security Simulation, has been published in various law journals and he serves on the editorial board of the Journal of National Security Law and Policy. Rudesill's career includes advising U.S. government leaders across all three branches, including roles in the executive branch and as a congressional staff member.
Anneliese Schenk-Day’s research surrounds mass violence, particularly the prevention, prediction, and aftermath of hate crimes on both a national and global scale. Within the context of the United States, she studies hate crimes that target racial and sexual minorities and how climate change and political rhetoric factor into their proliferation. Globally, her research interests focus on collective memory and gender dynamics after mass atrocities, particularly in Rwanda and Bosnia.
Dr. Kamesha Spates is William S. Dietrich II Chair and Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Spates is a first-generation college graduate and medical sociologist who founded and directs the Racial Justice and Health Equity Research and Education Collaborative (RJHEREC). Her work, which focuses on the mental and physical effects of structural oppression on Black families and communities, aims to influence studies, policies, and community engagement. An internationally recognized scholar in intersectionality, US race relations, mental health, and gender-based stressors, Dr. Spates has published extensively and is a mentor to numerous BIPOC students and faculty.
Hampton Stall is a Senior Research Specialist with the Bridging Divides Initiative. He has previously worked as the lead Senior Program Associate with The Carter Center’s Data and Analysis Team and as a Senior Research Associate with the Armed Conflict Location Event Data (ACLED) Project on their US Desk. Hampton has worked on and in conflict or post-conflict settings including Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, and the US. He holds a master’s in applied anthropology from Emory University and attained a bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Davidson College. His research focuses on the cultural aspects of paramilitarism, revolutionary politics, and ecological struggle.
Jacob Ware is a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where he studies domestic and international terrorism and counterterrorism. Together with Bruce Hoffman, he is the author of God, Guns, and Sedition: Far-Right Terrorism in America, forthcoming from Columbia University Press. He was previously a research associate for counterterrorism at CFR.
In addition to his work at CFR, Ware is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he teaches a class on domestic terrorism. He also serves on the editorial boards for the academic journal Studies in Conflict & Terrorism and the Irregular Warfare Initiative at the Modern War Institute at West Point. His work has appeared in publications including Foreign Policy, War on the Rocks, National Interest, and the Wall Street Journal.
Jack Wippell is a PhD Student in the Department of Sociology, at The Ohio State University. His research focuses on the emergence, spread and mobilization of far-right extremism in the United States. Previously, Jack worked for counter-extremism initiatives across the United States, Europe, and Central Asia. His public-facing work has featured in the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET)’s Insights Series, Fair Observer Magazine, the Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX)’s Right-Now!, and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR)’s The Loop.
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This event is being recorded and may be posted to our YouTube channel. If you choose to participate in discussion, you are presumed to consent to the use of your comments and potentially your image in these recordings. If you do not wish to be recorded or have any questions about this policy, please contact Kyle McCray (firstname.lastname@example.org).