It is so easy to stoke fear in this environment, Umair. Making people afraid right now is an extraordinarily low hurdle to clear. Congrats: you have cleared the bar.

Now, Americans have a visceral, visual manifestation of their deepest fears: that the world really is controlled by the most violent. That read is dead wrong, and the evidence backs it up.

No one has demonstrated how the mostly white rioters have the organization, endurance, or resources to do any worse than a riot on the Capitol. You haven't. My data indicate that those crucial factors are missing. Even those who track white rural illegal militia in the U.S. don't have data to show how they are any more than a deep cultural problem that has erupted onto the national scene, incited by the man who occupies the Office of the President. The fear-mongering makes things much worse.

In all of the post-Capitol frenzy, ALL eyes are on the top: stop the 45th, pressure social media to take away the bullhorns, invoke the 25th, impeach, etc. Everyone finally has something concrete to be afraid of, not just talk about authoritarians (although the signs have been there since the inaugural speech in 2017). And they are piling on.

What happened on the Capitol is a direct result of human beings grown in authoritarian norms in Rural American Cultures (RAC). Of course, not everyone who rioted on the Capitol that day are from rural places, nor are all the 45th's supporters rural Americans. Nor are all rural Americans authoritarians. The vast majority of illegal militia in the U.S., however, are homegrown rural, and the authoritarian cultural practices in RAC outnumber and outpace democratic practices creating the conditions for support of a tyrant.

If Americans were smart (and I'll leave that up to readers to decide), we'd pull ourselves away from the fear-inducing spectacle (its purpose), and focus on how humans who respond positively to tyrants are grown so we can change those conditions. This is not an academic exercise: it is the first step in moving toward a solution. Right now, we're all arguing about the symptoms and ignoring the root cause.

We all need to remember that those men and women who violently invaded the Capitol go home to children, women, and other marginalized people in Rural American Cultures, where participation, dissent, and choice are actively snuffed out. The diverse 60 million rural humans who live on 97% of land mass in the U.S. cannot be ignored in favor of top level "solutions" when the non-democratic cultural conditions on the ground in rural America kill any democratic solution planted there.

I'll leave you with a thought from Neil Young (

"I feel empathy for the people who have been so manipulated and had their beliefs used as political weapons. I may be among them. I wish internet news was two-sided. Both sides represented on the same programs. Social media, at the hands of powerful people – influencers, amplifying lies and untruths, is crippling our belief system, turning us against one another. We are not enemies. We must find a way home."

Fear will not get us home, Umair: understanding will.

SF Bay Area critical researcher, creative, & cultural worker. Content developer for The Relational Democracy Project IG @dr.cbg

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