The article's thesis is that the models that we have for radicalization (escalation from nonviolent to violent political action) were created post 9/11 to explain how people became jihadists. The authors argue that those models don't have much explanatory power in terms of explaining radicalization on the far right. Indeed, it questions whether the term "radicalization" makes sense at all in that context. They criticize use of the term "online radicalization" because it:
They propose that four distinct process are involved, which they describe as:
- Is analytically imprecise and conflates behavior and ideology;
Is normative and disregards that racist, misogynist, and xenophobic beliefs are popular in the United States;
Depends on a simplistic model of media effects and the internet;
Fails to attend to harmful effects of fringe and far-right behaviors beyond political violence;
Ignores the role of epistemology;
And is intimately tied to globalized security and CVE [Countering Violent Extremism]efforts.
Each of the four processes may be substantially different in how they come about.The process of adopting a counter-normative ideology, meaning a system of belief that deviates from those typically held in society;
The process of adopting a counter-normative epistemology, meaning a way of interpreting knowledge that deviates from that commonly held in a society;
The process of adopting an ideology or epistemology that explicitly advocates for intergroup violence or domination;
The process of adopting violent tactics to achieve political ends.
It was a different way of thinking about incidents like the recent shooting in Buffalo and similar events.