American sociologist and researcher at Sciences Po, Jen Schradie studies the interactions between digital activism and that which exists in the physical world. His work demonstrates that the digital and social divide works in favor of the most privileged and the most reactionary. The Internet is a reflection of American society, crossed by an increasingly virulent conservatism. The perpetrators of violence find in these virtual mobilizations, but also in those on the ground, a quick breeding ground that leads to radicalization. She just posted The Illusion of Digital Democracy. Is the Internet right-wing? (Quanto, 472 pages, 24.50 euros).
The author of the May 14 attack in Buffalo against African-Americans took action after a very rapid online radicalization. How can we explain that his opinions have turned so quickly into violence?
As a sociologist, I believe it is important to place an individual in context. If the situation in the United States had been different, perhaps he would not have radicalized so quickly. The spread of far-right propaganda online is not a new phenomenon. Even before the advent of the Internet as we know it, such literature could be found in early discussion forums. It can however be noted that the extreme right has shown itself to be very skilful online in winning new sympathizers and mobilizing them. The spread of memes [texte, image, vidéo massivement repris et immédiatement identifiables] and the use of provocation by these movements to disseminate their ideas are well known. In addition, the algorithms of the major platforms facilitate this propaganda, since they promote controversial content, created to provoke, a well-known strategy of the far right, which can lock some individuals into a dangerous and hateful worldview.
What has changed recently is the rise of white supremacists. To report on far-right violence, including the Buffalo shooting [qui a fait 10 morts] is a tragic example, so we can’t just stick to the Internet.
How then can we explain this flash radicalization?
After such an attack, as after the one that occurred at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24 [faisant 21 victimes dont 19 enfants], we are used to focusing only on the assailant, his psychological profile, the conditions in which he grew up. We say we want to understand how he could have come to this and, very often, we end up making his parents responsible for his crimes. However, things are changing. Over the past twenty years, and especially over the past five to ten years, part of American society has slowly begun to realize the impact of systemic racism, the way it insinuates itself into our daily lives. and grants the white population a privileged status which some consider it their duty to defend with violence.
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