The Insurrection Was a Giant Recruitment Exercise for Extremists


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The deadly insurrection at the US Capitol wasn’t the start of something, nor was it the end. What happened on January 6 had been planned for weeks, and the ideology behind it, brewing for years. That day’s chaos was the moment in which a dangerous mix of far-right factions came together in a way that won’t be disentangled anytime soon.

Even now, nearly five months later, there’s still so much to process and still so many questions to answer (especially as Republicans work to forget the deadly attack ever happened). So at Mother Jones, we’re continuing to unpack what led to that day and what has followed.

In last week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, we brought you the story of an unlikely insurrectionist: Dr. Simone Gold, a Stanford-educated lawyer and emergency room physician who ended up on an FBI most wanted poster. And this week, with the help of Mother Jones disinformation reporter Ali Breland, we explore the historical foundations of modern political fringe movements, like QAnon, and consider how they are the outgrowth of paranoid conspiracy-mongering politics that have taken root across the US over the last century.

We hear from a former Oath Keeper about why he joined and later left the extremist militia. We meet one of the overlooked characters who poured gasoline onto the fire leading up to the insurrection, someone whose online popularity with Gen Z extremists reveals why it is not necessarily the generation that will save us. Plus, we talk to experts about what’s ahead and how we may not know how widespread extremist groups actually are.

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