Trump supporters’ insecurity reveals a key fact about their beliefs: UC Berkeley sociologist

Image via Screengrab.

Five months ago, supporters of Donald Trump attempted a coup to nullify the results of the 2020 presidential election, launching a lethal attack on the U.S. Capitol. Since then, the Republican Party has chosen to try to erase or rewrite the story of what happened that day, in order to conceal its culpability. Public opinion polls and other research show that the Republican Party's war on the truth about Jan. 6 — and reality more generally — is working. A majority of Republicans actually believe that the election was "stolen". A not insignificant number of Republicans also believe that the events of Jan. 6 either did not occur or were somehow crimes committed by antifa or Black Lives Matter activists as part of a plot to "discredit" Donald Trump.

In the months since Trump's supporters attacked the Capitol, what have we learned about them? To this point, 510 people have been charged with crimes for their participation in the Capitol attack, and 130 of those have been charged with assaulting, or otherwise causing harm to police or employees at the Capitol. Out of those 130 defendants, 40 have been charged with using deadly or dangerous weapons or causing serious bodily harm. Several dozen of those who raided the Capitol that day have been charged with conspiracy, and three defendants have also been charged with terrorism.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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