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Democratic Debates: Andrew Yang Talks Preventing Extremism

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Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang (Photo; Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang (Photo; Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The latest Democrat debates on Wednesday night saw presidential candidate Andrew Yang speak about preventing violent extremism (PVE). Yang spoke to the need to better understand race supremacy while also working to help create more constructive pathways for boys.

Andrew yang on terrorismWhile what Yang says is a lever that should have been pulled years ago, we also have to move out of a framework that looks at white supremacist terror in a vacuum. Competing extremist ideologies — Islamism, white supremacy, neo-Nazism, Antifa — often ascribe to goal of “acceleration,” a theory that seeks to (1) push conflicts to the max for the purpose of (2) triggering open race wars. In that, most supremacists feed off each other.

Extremist ideologies are extremely competitive, learning from each other but also using hate to force factions in society to square off with each other. In other words, they’re looking to drive conflict.

In the last few days, headlines in Germany were about a teenage neo-Nazi who was planning multiple attacks on synagogues. It’s is just the latest demonstration of how groups are looking to accelerate violence.

While Clarion Project does not endorse any one candidate over the other, we are happy to see the topic of preventing violent extremism discussed in a serious tone with tangible solutions being put on the table.

In August, I spoke with Andrew Yang on how his idea of a universal basic income (UBI) is one pathway to integrate disaffected youth. It’s possible UBI could be leveraged to pull people back from the fringe.

As Yang shared then,

The less our system appeals to the downtrodden, the weaker we are in the ideological war. When people give up hope in a current system, they are more vulnerable to finding hope in another system or ideology.

Yang’s theory is supported by academic findings on the push and pull factors that drive extremism. Disaffection and alienation, and a failure to belong to mainstream society, is often what drives youth to seek alternative and fringe ideological models.

What we’re seeing with the recent shootings is a Frankenstein-like mash up of different extremist leanings with no clear orientation other than a desire to cause (and accelerate) civilizational downfall.

What Yang is essentially offering in a UBI is a counter message that pivots away from simply taking away the threat. While there are many debates around gun restriction and now video game restriction as a means to curb violence, I see in the rise of hate on school campuses that there is that the lack of a counter messaging to our youth — and it is literally killing us.

If we want to move forward as a nation, we must look at how we can empower the building blocks of society: our communities. From there we need to look at how we’re incentivizing youth with philosophies that prepare them for the world they’re walking into while, at the same time, rewarding them with means to invest in their future.

 

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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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