Extremism and the Media

Subject: American History
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 10
Word count: 2605
Topics: Freedom of Speech, Ku Klux Klan, Mass Media, Racism


Over the years, extremism has been on the rise with the activities of extremist groups becoming more rampant globally. Extremist groups have shown a higher order of organization and an increased number of their activities. Additionally, having different objectives, many extremist groups have been observed to be on the increase in the United States. Although some of the actions and agenda propagated by the extremist groups have been observed to be extreme, they have not been recognized as terror groups (ABC News, 2017). There are many extremist groups in the United States that include anti-Semitic groups and white supremacy. The white supremacists are more profound in the United States than in other countries and are mainly made up of the Ku Klux Klan and the white skinheads. In this study, the paper will attempt to find out why the media has not categorized the extremist groups, particularly the white supremacist as terror groups (CBS News). This study will carry out a literature review that will be used to identify gaps, which will inform into a detailed research to find out whether there is evidence relating the Ku Klux Klan and the white skinheads with terrorism. The study will be carried out using inferential statistics that will relate three key variables, KKK, white skinheads and terrorism. Findings will be established and recommendations be made on the relationship that exist between the variables to help inform on whether there is reason to assume that the extremist groups should be in the same categories as terror groups.

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Literature Review

In the identification of the features of a group of people, observing the kind of activities that the groups engage in can help to detect whether a group is likely to consist of terrorism. Terror groups for instance commonly practice activities such abductions, assassinations, bombings, use of brutal weapons, outright hatred of a particular category of people and many others (The Telegraph 2017). Some of these features are also observable among the white supremacists. One common and outstanding feature is the outright hate that these extremist groups have against Semitism, people of colored community and recently minority groups in the society. In addition, the racist skinheads have been observed to propagate criminal activities using brutal weapons some of which have lead many deaths. The KKK have also been observed to promulgate violence in the United States. The Ku Klux Klan, categorized as a hate group, has been estimated to have reached a number above five thousand. Although it was reported that the number of members of the KKK decreased in 2016, the members have been on the increase during the entry of Donald Trump (CBS News 2017). Being among the oldest extremist group in the United States, Ku Klux Klan has over the years radicalized their activities and transition in the manner they execute their strategies In fact, the KKK have increased their violent activities in the recent past including the use of guns during the perpetration of the crimes.

The outlook of a particular person or group is a key identity that defines who they are and what they believe in. Extremist groups express themselves using conspicuous modes of dressing that identify the members among themselves and also to the general public (Anti-Defamation League 2017). An analysis of the mode of dressing of the KKK indicate that those members deeply engrossed in the beliefs of the hate group dress in long white robes with caps which are sometimes masked. In the past few years there has been an increased public expression of the Ku Klux Klan through this mode of dressing. On the other hand, the racist skinheads wear bomber jackets which majorities have assumed to be a fashion of dressing. Racist skinheads also wear combat boots and have theirs heads shaved leaving no hair on their heads. It is therefore easily observable that the extremist groups and the terror groups have a unique mode of dressing that they use for identification among themselves and to be identified by the public.

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One of the key characteristic of terror groups is that they thrive in the establishment of unique recruitment strategies for its members. In addition, they also aim to publicize themselves and taking credit for some of their criminal activities. This feature is also common amongst the white supremacist (History, 2017). The racist skinheads, for example, use musical bands to compose songs in line with their agenda and to also attract the public to join. Majority of the fans will start developing interest in the music and identify themselves with the music and eventually follow the ideologies of the racist skinhead (New York Times 2017). This is also a common feature for the KKK group who has a unique criterion of recruiting their fellow members through rites that have been established as modes of initiation into the groups.

In the late 1970, there was a split between the skinheads, where one group separated as a racist skinhead and the other as a non-resist skinhead group. Following the separation, the racist skinheads had conflicting ideologies with the Asians living in the UK particular in London. The conflict resulted to rancorous outbreaks that subsequently led to the loss of lives of many Asians. The attacks were subtly introduced through a game, referred to as Paki bashing that had been introduced during that period (Anti-Defamation League 2017). The games intended objective was to inflict pain and injury to non-white communities that were residing in the capital of UK during that period.

According to studies that have been carried out, it has been observed that both the white skinheads and the Ku Klux Klan cluster themselves into groups, which they term as brotherhood (CBS News 2017). The brotherhood society of the extremist groups is used to identify them as members who share the same objective. Terror groups on the other hand have the same feature of demarcating themselves into small sects some which identify themselves by the same name as the extremist do.

Most of the KKK hate groups have their establishments in the south of the United States. This is contrary to the white skinheads group that has grown broadly with groups that exist globally. In the state of Alabama, there are ORION groups that are part of the KKK who are headed by a Knight (History, 2017). This is a similar case for other states in the south of US. high active of the KKK is not in Ohio State, Tennessee and some of the neighboring states where the KKK express their dissatisfaction against the colored community. It is therefore observed that the extreme groups are established broadly some of which are abroad, a feature that is common among the terror groups.

From the literature reviewed it has been observed that the skinheads and the KKK have unique ways of operations. In addition, some similarities have been identified in the two groups through their operations or their agenda. However, there is a gap that has been identified from the literature reviewed. Although there is detailed information about the two groups, little study has been done to establish whether the extremist groups relate to terror groups and hence it is unclear whether they should be considered to be terrorist or not.

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Method and Research Strategy

Research design

This was an explorative study that sought to obtain more information on the subject of the relationship between the terrorism groups and extremist groups, which in this case were the skinheads and Ku Klux Klan. The research attempted to carry out a multivariate linear regression analysis on a single dependent variable against two other independent variables.

Model specification and measurement of variables

The following model was used as a conceptual framework for the study. Terrorism was the dependent variable whereas extremist groups that are KKK and skinheads were the independent variables it was assumed that terrorism has a positive relationship with extremist groups that is KKK and skinheads (Politico, 2017). More than thirty that features that described the nature of behavior of terrorists, their formation, and their types was used to provide the required data for the variables that were be used.

For data analysis purposes, each feature or characteristic of terrorism was rated between zero and four, where four depending on the rate of occurrences was the most prevalent whereas zero was be the least prevalent characteristic for the three variables (Mirror, 2017). For example, one feature of a terrorist group is that they spread fear (“Common Terrorist Incidents and Techniques”, 2017). Since this is a prevalent feature in most terror groups, the rating was be three. This was also a prevalent feature for both the skinheads and the KKKs, but according to news reports, the KKK spread more fear as compared to the skinheads. Therefore, the score for skinheads was two while that of the KKK variable was three according to the informational resources that were available. Therefore, using the same procedure, all the other thirty features were numerated and a linear regression analysis was done.

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Data type and sources

The study mainly used primary data that was obtained through collection of data from three different but key news websites that had substantial information about KKK, terrorist groups and skinheads. The news reports were used to give the scores for the prevalence of the different features of terror groups and subsequently tabulated for analysis.

Research instruments data analysis

The instruments that were used were data recording and collection materials such as worksheets for filling in data, computers with good internet and excel application that was used to analyze data. Qualitative method was used for data analysis. The Microsoft Excel data analysis toolkit was used to analyze the data. Regression and correlation analysis was done on for linear regression to produce inferential statistics results that determined the relationship between the three variables.

Analysis and Findings

An analysis of the data collected indicated the following correlation results.

 Terror groupsKKKskinheads
Terror groups1.00  

According to the analysis, the relationship between the KKK variable and the terror groups was at 0.60. This means that there is a positive correlation between the Ku Klux Klan and the Terror groups. The study indicates that approximately 60 percent of the features found in the terror groups were found amongst the Ku Klux Klan, an indication that there group is more inclined to being a terror group.

On the other hand, there was a slightly lower correlation than that of terror groups and KKK at 0.57 between the features of the skinhead groups with the features that describe terror groups. In this case, it can be observed that almost similar results were obtained indicating that the characteristics of the terror groups were comparable at a level of 57 percent. This analysis also shows that the skinheads seem to have similar characteristics which, according to the data seem to have more features inclining more to the terrorism.

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The study also indicated that the KKK and the skinheads were highly correlated at 0.80, a feature that was expected and is according to the literature review done earlier. As it was observed in the literature reviewed, the KKK and the skinheads are both white extremist groups.

However, a further regression analysis on the data obtained indicated the following

Regression Statistics
Multiple R0.62
R Square0.38
Adjusted R Square0.33
Standard Error0.46

Since the objective of the study was to find out whether there existed a relationship between the extremist groups and terrorism, a linear regression analysis results was sufficient. Hence, data on the test for the hypothesis through evaluation of the p-value was not regarded as relevant.

The results of a multiple regression result indicated that there was a 0.62 relationship in the three variables. This is an indication that the features describing the three groups, the terror groups, KKK, and skinheads in which the KKK and skinheads could be combined as extremist groups were positively related. Therefore, the result indicate that the close relations in the characteristics of the extremist groups and the terror groups in terms of their activities and their formation suggests that the extremist groups have a high tendency of the extremist groups being terror groups.

The results of regression analysis however indicated a low value in the adjusted R squared. The result of 0.33 gave an indication that there was only a proportion of 33 percent in the terror group variable that was explained by the two extremist variables. Although the adjusted R squared was relatively low, as it would be expected to be closer to one, the nature of the study would regard a third as a fair score. This is because the main objective of the study was to establish the existence of a relationship and not much focus in the strength of the relationship.

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Therefore, from the data analyzed this study inferred a number of findings. Through various sources, these study was able to compile a comprehensive list thirty characteristics that are common in the terror groups’ mode of operation, formation or principles, often used to categorize a group as a terror group or not. Majority of the terror groups were found to meet almost all the thirty features. From the data analyzed, it has been observed that both the characteristics of the skinheads and the Ku Klux Klan have indicated to have a positive correlation against the terror group features. This is to mean that the activities, principles and the nature of the formation of the two extremist groups suggest they are terrorist groups. The media should therefore categorize them in the category of terror groups.

The shortcoming to this study is that, although a lot of precautionary measures was taken during the study, the method of rating used for the characteristics of the variables is generally subjective since there is no conventional matrix of reference. For that matter, the results of this research should therefore be used with this understanding. Since this was a general study that was holistic in nature, there still exists a gap in establishing the relationship that has existed over time between white supremacy groups and terror groups and how it is changing over time to help predict the future changes.

In conclusion, this paper aimed to understand why extremist groups have not been categorized as terror groups. To obtain an answer for this question, the study endeavored to confirm whether or not the skinheads and the Ku Klux Klan should be considered to be terror groups. The study reviewed the available literature that included the history of the two extremist groups how they operate, how they recruit their members, their objectives, organization, and common features that exist between the two. In addition to the review, the literature review identified gaps that exist. It was discovered that although there has been speculation that the extremist groups should be categorized as terror groups, the amount of research that has been done on the subject was still wanting.

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Through use of three key media websites, the study was able to collect data that was recorded and tabulated for correlation analysis. The study used correlation and regression analysis to analyze the collected data. Through the data collected it was observed that there existed a relationship between the extremist groups and terror groups and hence resulting to the inference that the extreme groups should be considered to be in the same category as terror groups. This was informed by the commonality in the features that described both the terror groups and the extreme groups. Therefore, the media should be considering the Ku Klux Klan and the skinheads as terror groups.

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  1. ABC News. (2017). Ku Klux Klan Videos at ABC News Video Archive at abcnews.com. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/topics/news/us/ku-klux-klan.htm
  2. Common Terrorist Incidents and Techniques. (2017). Terrorism-research.com. http://www.terrorism-research.com/incidents/
  3. History. (2017). Ku Klux Klan – Facts & Summary – HISTORY.com. HISTORY.com. http://www.history.com/topics/ku-klux-klan
  4. Mirror. (2017). Ku Klux Klan – News, views, gossip, pictures, video – Mirror Online. Mirror.co.uk. http://www.mirror.co.uk/all-about/ku-klux-klan
  5.   Politico. (2017). Ku Klux Klan. POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/news/ku-klux-klan/4
  6. SPLC. (2012). Racist skinheads: Understanding the threat. Intelligence Report, Law Enforcement Special Report, 5-15 .
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