By Eric K. Ward

Gangstagrass performing on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”. Rench (second from right) is a leader in our Inclusive Democracy Culture Lab.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster….”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

What I read in the headlines every day is cause for great concern. But what I hear in my earbuds tells a different story.

The headlines in my news feed are an exercise in refusing to look away. Political violence and hate violence, ideological bias in law enforcement and conspiracy theories: these threats to inclusive democracy are not going away. …


By Eric K. Ward

Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability made national headlines last week when they released their report on the six unnamed Seattle police officers who were alleged to “have engaged in criminal acts and unprofessional conduct” at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 where more than 150 of their fellow law enforcement officers were injured and two people were killed.

The investigation was triggered by a Facebook photo one of the officers posted of herself and another officer at the insurrection.

Recommending the firing of two of the six members of the Seattle Police Department [SPD] who…


By Eric K. Ward

May Day Proud Boys and paramilitary rally in Salem, Oregon was a bust. We can’t be lulled into complacency and think the threat has gone away. But we can see the impact of what we’ve been doing right.

When President Biden spoke to a joint session of Congress to mark his first 100 days, fencing was still up around the Capitol; the seat of democracy, still defended by the National Guard.

“The insurrection was an existential crisis — a test of whether our democracy could survive,” the President reminded us; “the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol — desecrating our democracy — remain vivid in our minds.”

He went on to pose the questions at the heart of this moment: “Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us —…


By Eric K. Ward

As over one-third of Oregon went dark in the state’s largest-ever power outage, my thoughts traveled back to the 1990s, to a brightly lit auditorium in Ellensburg, Washington filled with Holocaust deniers.

I had travelled over many rural miles in a Greyhound bus, ever-present anxiety my only companion, to enter that auditorium. The only visible person of color present, I already understood deep in my bones how morally repugnant and politically dangerous Holocaust denial was. …


By: Western States Center Staff

(photo by Михаил Руденко)

This is the final post in the six-part seriesMy Child Is Repeating Conspiracy Theories. What Do I Say?” authored by Shelly Tochluk, Christine Saxman, and Joanna Schroeder. Read the first post and access links to the entire series here.

No one wants to believe a child or teen in their care will encounter or be influenced by hateful extremists. …


By: Western States Center Staff

(photo by Monkey Business Images)

This post is the fifth in the six-part seriesMy Child Is Repeating Conspiracy Theories. What Do I Say?” authored by Shelly Tochluk, Christine Saxman, and Joanna Schroeder. Read the first post and access links to the entire series here.

When a young person begins actively supporting conspiracy theories (online and in person) or vocally identifies with an organized hate group, parents and caregivers face a more urgent problem.

In these instances, a child or teen not only feels some affinity for a racist and anti-democratic ideology, group, or conspiracy theory, but they have developed…


(photo by MachineHeadz)

This post is the fourth in the six-part seriesMy Child Is Repeating Conspiracy Theories. What Do I Say?” authored by Shelly Tochluk, Christine Saxman, and Joanna Schroeder. Read the first post and access links to the entire series here.

Two characteristics of today’s political climate are the decentering of values focused on the common good and the demand for false equivalence (or the belief that all ideas deserve equal airtime). As a result, openly bigoted and separatist rhetoric has increasingly found its way into the mainstream, contributing to a hostile environment for marginalized people. …


By: Western States Center Staff

(photo Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)

This post is the third in the six-part seriesMy Child Is Repeating Conspiracy Theories. What Do I Say?” authored by Shelly Tochluk, Christine Saxman, and Joanna Schroeder. Read the first post and access links to the entire series here.

Adolescents naturally test boundaries, take risks, and push against familial and cultural norms. Far-right leaders know this and leverage teens’ desire to be edgy or transgressive by creating sarcastic and ironic content they are more likely to share. …


By: Western States Center Staff

(photo by Daisy-Daisy)

This post is the second in the six-part seriesMy Child Is Repeating Conspiracy Theories. What Do I Say?” authored by Shelly Tochluk, Christine Saxman, and Joanna Schroeder. Read the first post and access links to the entire series here.

Given the range of easily accessible online and social media platforms, the ever-increasing amount of time we spend online, and the prolific posting habits of many conspiracy theorists and far-right recruiters, young people have ample opportunity to unintentionally encounter content that promotes or furthers far-right ideologies.

Often couched as humorous or “edgy” memes or jokes…

Western States Center

Based in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain States, Western States Center works nationwide to strengthen inclusive democracy.

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