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From QAnon to radical militias: How to talk to a loved one with extremist views

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The radicalization of our neighbors extends from on a regular basis Coloradans to elected GOPers. A DU professor working to cease violent extremism has a technique to assist.

DENVER — As increasingly more individuals are arrested for his or her roles within the riot on the U.S. Capitol, we’re studying extra concerning the influences of extremist teams on the occasions of that day. Among these arrested are believers within the Qanon conspiracy idea and members of extremist militia teams together with the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers.

A standard query we’ve obtained from viewers asks how to have interaction with family and friends members who’ve joined these teams and specific troubling ideas. We took these questions to Rachel Nielsen, government director of the Colorado Resilience Collaborative, a group on the University of Denver (DU) targeted on stopping violent extremism by intervention.

How ought to we have interaction with individuals in our lives who’ve embraced a conspiracy idea or extremist view that we all know not to be true?

“Come at it not like you’re crazy for thinking this, but that there’s got to be something at the base of it that you’re really trying to figure out,” Nielsen stated. “If you get into this match about who’s right and who’s wrong and who’s information is right and wrong. then you’ll never be able to side with them to the degree that you can influence their thinking.”

Nielsen admits this dialog goes to be something however comfy. But she says individuals too typically strategy others in an argumentative approach, making an attempt to persuade them that they’re mistaken. She says that can by no means get you anyplace.

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“Not getting bogged down in the ideology itself and certainly not arguing that somebody is wrong or that they lack intelligence or they’re not seeing it properly because all you’ll get back is argument,” she stated. “Say, you know, I’ve just never heard you say things like this before and I’m curious about what you find appealing about what you’ve been seeing and what you think the issues actually are”

There is not any hurt in listening to out their factors of view, Nielsen stated.

“[In] suicide prevention, there used to be this myth that if you talked about suicide and you had the conversation you might actually push someone towards suicide and what we found out is by showing interest and asking questions people make better decisions.”

The similar applies right here, she says, and it’s essential to perceive what could be the basis of the issue.

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What has led to the rise of extremist ideas and conspiracy theories within the final 12 months?

“The pandemic has been a perfect storm,” Nielsen stated. “You have more individuals who are lonely, frustrated, scared about their futures and have a lot of those personal problems.”

“It tends to stem from real economic issues, concerns about immigration, worries about the direction our country is going in, government oversight and overreach — things we have grappled with throughout U.S. history, but again we can’t have our citizens hurting each other.”

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Nielsen stated extremism additionally spawns from human want. Many believers really feel a want for identification and a want for belonging, which makes the concept of an extremist group extra interesting.

“With the pandemic, a lot of people have more time online and that is their socialization space,” Neilsen stated. “So, if you had somebody before that might have been online three hours a day and is now online 12 hours a day and is angry and is having more significant personal problems, they’re more vulnerable to these narratives.”

The pandemic has additionally created a sense of stress and worry, which Nielsen stated can whittle away at individuals’s potential to kind by misinformation.

“There’s so much information out there that it really is difficult to figure out what’s true and what’s not,” she stated. “And we know there is a ton of misinformation and fake news. And it takes a lot of critical thinking to work through that and critical thinking declines…our critical thinking gets worse when we’re stressed or scared.”

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Are extremist views a gateway to violent acts just like the riot on the Capitol?

Not all excessive thinkers flip to violence, Nielsen stated. In truth, the overwhelming majority won’t ever act violently. Though, Nielsen stated, this doesn’t imply you shouldn’t be cautious about somebody talking about potential violent extremism.

“You never want to believe that this person that you love who’s part of your circle would ever do that, right,” she stated.

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“In any given violent attack, like an active shooter situation, that there’s on average of three people in that person’s life who have real information about the specifics but they don’t know what to do with it or they didn’t want to take it seriously.”

This doesn’t essentially imply somebody ought to report their buddy or member of the family to the authorities if they’re utilizing inflammatory rhetoric, Nielsen stated.

“We can still influence our friends and families. Cops can’t. Law enforcement can’t,” she stated.

Nielsen stated many members of extremist teams of thought may even see violent acts as a signal that it’s time to transfer away from the group.

“You’ll have a lot of people pull away, say that was too much and say, I don’t want to associate with this group anymore. But then you’ll have a number of individuals who are the minority that double-down and become more dangerous.”

Nielsen stated isolation breeds these types of extremist views and the worst factor you are able to do for somebody in your life impacted by them is to stroll away.

“The worst thing you can do to a person is ignore them altogether.”

Rachel Nielsen is the chief director of the Colorado Resilience Collaborative, an initiative that helps these impacted by focused violence due to radicalism and discrimination. The program affords counseling for individuals impacted by extremism. To be taught extra about it, click on here.

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