Why now and what does it mean for the future?
The marginalization of certain groups has always existed in the US, but its recent surge is driving the rise of white supremacist groups because ultimately, these groups aren’t “defending white people” or America as they claim, but rather attacking everyone that they do not believe belong in white America. These people have been able to gain power as they have been receiving support from state and national institutions and leaders, from the police all the way to presidents. (I believe it’s important to note here that it is not just Trump because that dangerously leads us to believe that everything is okay now that he is out of office.)
However, I think it is uniquely occurring now because of the rise of social media. First, news is purposely sensationalized and people are shown things that they like because social media companies are profit driven and this makes them the most money. Tragically, this is causing echo chambers where extreme ideologies are legitimized and strengthened. Thus, everyone’s beliefs are becoming more extreme and one sided, resulting in polarization. Second, social media allows for mass organization that would have previously been much more difficult. Both Charlottesville and Capitol Riots were clearly planned online as explained by those involved. Ultimately, social media is providing both the incentive and means to start conducting acts of domestic terror.
Without saying, it seems like everything is only worsening. Acts of domestic terror escalated from attacking local towns to the capital of the United States. Even though scholars had been warning prior to the Capitol Riots that ring wing extremists were showing fascist red flags, info on the Capitol Riots were everywhere on social media and thus could have easily been prevented by the NSA and other government agencies, we did nothing.
I’ve read studies that argue polarization is mostly concentrated in the older population, but the former FBI member in the documentary makes it clear that college students and the younger generation are very much involved, and they will only become more extreme in the future, and that needs to be addressed.
What is motivating this phenomenon?
Clearly, the astounding rise in domestic, right wing terrorism is dangerous to both the security of American citizens and American democracy, as a formerly ideology on the fringes of political discussion is now considered mainstream. While social media play a part, state and federal officials also play a critical role.
In the documentary, police refused to step in to stop the brutal attack of DeAndre Harris across the street from them, but protected the organizer of Unite the Right immediately and preemptively. Military personnel were present at Charlottesville, but as part of R.A.M. and not to protect citizens, and this also happened at the Capitol Riots.
On the other hand, governors, congressmen and even presidents have rather explicitly given their approval for white supremacist groups, like the Proud Boys, or incited hatred towards marginalized groups through actions such as the Muslim Ban, targeted language (Kung Flu), support for discriminatory policies, and more. In fact, after Charlottesville, Trump had condemned the counter protestors who he claimed were radical leftists and terrorists, and he received praise from right wing extremists for his statements.
At the end of the day, various factors come together to Unite the Right, bringing together individuals that are motivated by hatred and bigotry driven by increasing polarization and bipartisanship.
How does this relate to bubbling?
Our society has realized that by bubbling other peoples, it makes it easier to advance their own agendas. The perpetual foreigner bubbles all BIPOC, and especially Asian people, as non-Americans so that they are always first identified by their foreignness. Data shows that Islamophobia did not rise immediately after 9/11, but rather when politicians started pushing it to garner public support for war. Recently, politicians are engaging in anti-Asian propaganda and encouraging Sinophobia because politicians’ end goals are to maintain public support so that they may be reelected. Thus by putting them and their voters in a fragile bubble and portraying it as an easily popped bubble under attack from other people, they maintain their ratings and are able to push their political agendas without realizing the horrendous byproduct — the creation of domestic terrorists.