The stormers of the US parliament were mainly white, wealthy 40 to 50 year old men from urban areas
It can be traced back to a systematic smear campaign. Trump and some of his allies in the media, most notably Tucker Carlson, a Fox News host, had repeatedly stoked fears of the "great replacement": people with black and brown skin would sooner or later displace whites. In this sketch, Trump was the saviour of the West who would stop and reverse the trend. The fear of change, of losing their own majority status, drove men with grey hair to violence. About half of them belonged to the "white collar" occupational category. In other words, people who earn their money with the emblematic white shirt collar at their desk. There were plenty of self-employed people and small entrepreneurs, many of whom could afford to spend the days before in hotels that were by no means cheap. "This is indeed a new, politically violent mass movement. This is collective political violence." The last time something similar could be observed was in the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan, founded in the final phase of the US Civil War as a secret society of racist southerners, experienced a renaissance that went far beyond its original core and was now directed, with an expanded thrust, against blacks, Jews, Catholics and internationalists alike. The investigation shows: More attacks on minorities in the US are likely.
This is the conclusion of Robert Pape, professor of politics at the University of Chicago and director of the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST). He characterises the rebellion as an uprising of people with often already grey hair. The CPOST researchers identified a crucial criterion for the attackers on US democracy: they came mainly from areas where the proportion of whites in the population had declined significantly, even if whites were still the majority there, making it all the more likely that Trump supporters would set out to fly the flag in the capital.
So the US Capitol was not stormed primarily by nutcases, right-wing extremists and young people without prospects, but often well-off forty- and fifty-year-olds were among the attackers on the White House who wanted to prevent the swearing-in of Joe Biden, who was elected, and thus intended a coup d'état.
What kind of people were they who, incited by the still-incumbent president, climbed through smashed windows or ran through broken doors, beat up police officers and hunted down congressmen and senators?
Pape tried to get to the bottom of the matter, beyond all media quick fixes. Supported by six colleagues and two dozen students, he has sifted through much of what could be found about the more than 700 attackers who have been criminally investigated so far. Court documents, media reports, official papers - countless fragments of information were to be put together into a puzzle to create a kind of group profile. To find a common denominator, something that linked the intruders demographically, that could help explain their motives. The first thing that struck him, the scientist told The Atlantic magazine, was the atypical age of the invaders.
Pape has been studying violent political extremists for some time - not only in the USA, but also in Europe and the Middle East. As a rule, he has learned, it is young men in their twenties and thirties who resort to politically motivated violence. The fact that on 6 January 2021 the generation of forty and fifty-year-olds was eager to get involved, he lectures, is in contradiction to the experience gathered up to then.
Then there is the economic aspect. Just seven percent of the insurgents were unemployed, a comparatively low figure. In the decade before, Pope's team found out by studying FBI files, one in four people arrested by the American federal police for extremist violence did not have a job at the time of the crime.
This was not the case on 6 January 2021, which is why there can be no talk of a revolt of the economically frustrated, of those without prospects. Among the Trump supporters who occupied the Capitol were doctors, architects, a Google professional, the owner of an advertising agency, even a State Department official. About half of them were professionals in the "white collar" category. In other words, people who earn their money with the emblematic white shirt collar at their desk. There were plenty of self-employed people and small entrepreneurs, many of whom could afford to spend the days before in hotels that were by no means cheap.
Intoxicated by power
Pape speaks of white middle-class people who either relied uninhibitedly on violence or, in the maelstrom of events, were intoxicated by their own power and shed all inhibitions. In view of the reality of 6 January 2021, he considers the long-held view that it is mainly splinter groups or individual perpetrators, the so-called lone wolves, who are responsible for right-wing violence, to be outdated.
That is precisely why the conclusion he draws sounds so alarming. "This is indeed a new, politically violent mass movement. This is collective political violence." He says the last time something similar could be observed was in the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan, founded as a secret society of racist Southerners in the final stages of the US Civil War, experienced a renaissance that went far beyond its original core and was now directed, with an expanded thrust, against blacks, Jews, Catholics and internationalists alike.
Organised militias outnumbered
The majority of the extremists on 6 January were not members of an extremist group. Of those who ended up in the dock, about 85 per cent had no contacts with right-wing extremist organisations. Certainly, there were tightly organised militias whose combatants exchanged detailed building plans, called on each other in social media to bring firearms and ammunition and discussed which politician should be targeted first. Films from mobile phone cameras document how they proceeded.
Fifteen per cent of those involved in the attack had served in the military. All this suggests thorough preparation, rather than a spontaneous action. Nevertheless, the CPOST team concludes, the truth is more nuanced - and thus all the more sobering.
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Wer erstürmte vor einem Jahr das US-Kapitol? - USA - derStandard.de › International