A member of the Three Percent militia in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia, where various militia groups stage rallies, August 15, 2020, photo by Dustin Chambers/Reuters

commentary

(NBC News THINK)

Could 2020 Spawn '70s-Style Radicals and Violence?

A member of the Three Percent militia in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia, where various militia groups stage rallies, August 15, 2020

Photo by Dustin Chambers/Reuters

by Brian Michael Jenkins

August 17, 2020

Armed conflicts fuel plagues: Until very recently in history, disease killed more people in wars than battle. But plagues can also fuel conflict, and COVID-19 may be no exception. The conditions facing the United States today are reminiscent of those that gave rise to the radicalism of the 1970s and could once again lead to political violence, including terrorism.

It's not that the pandemic gives extremists or terrorists new capabilities or points them to a path they hadn't thought of before. Instead, the pandemic creates a psychologically upsetting environment that encourages fanatics to do crazy and possibly violent things, and those actions will have greater impact on an already frightened public.…

The remainder of this commentary is available at nbcnews.com.


Brian Michael Jenkins began researching terrorism for the nonpartisan, nonprofit RAND Corporation in 1972. He is a senior adviser to the president of RAND and directs the National Transportation Security Center at the Mineta Transportation Institute.

This commentary originally appeared on NBC News THINK on August 16, 2020. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.