Right-wing violence on the rise

06/11/09 Robert Lorei
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Our guest today was Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates. He just wrote the piece "Violence, Apocalyptic Aggression and Conspiracy Theories: Holocaust Museum Shooting, Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories, and the Tools of Fear," which states: "The alleged shooter at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum ... has an online book excerpt revealing his deep roots in historic White Supremacy and antisemitic conspiracy theories, including references to the hoax document 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.' His website includes links to White Supremacist and Holocaust denial sites.

"People who believe conspiracist allegations sometimes act on those irrational beliefs, and this has concrete consequences in the real world. The shooting today is a prime example of why it is a mistake to ignore bigoted conspiracy theories. Law enforcement needs to enforce laws against criminal behavior. Vicious bigoted speech, however, is often protected by the First Amendment. We do not need new laws or to encourage government agencies to further erode civil liberties. We need to stand up as moral people and speak out against the spread of bigoted conspiracy theories. That's not a police problem, that's our problem as people responsible for defending a free society."

Berlet is also author of the recently-released report "Toxic to Democracy Conspiracy Theories, Demonization and Scapegoating."

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