On Friday, Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez called for the federal government to fund efforts to “deradicalize” white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and others who have supposedly been misled by President Trump.
In response to a question during a virtual town hall, Ocasio-Cortez admitted that it is “challenging” to figure out how to communicate with some of Trump’s supporters.
“I think that we’re going to be hearing a lot from a lot of experts in the best ways to deradicalize people,” she said. “There are a couple of things I will say about this. One is I think our community recognizes that this is not a problem that is going to go away January 20.”
“You know, this doesn’t go away with an inauguration; it doesn’t go away after an inauguration,” she added. “And there are people who are radicalized right now, and it is going to take a very long time and a lot of effort to deradicalize those people.”
She assured her listeners, saying that “not all hope is lost.” She also mentioned that she has served for the past two years as the House Subcommittee’s vice-chair on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which is a part of the Oversight Committee.
“We have held many hearings on the growing white supremacist threat and the domestic terror threat in the United States. Over the last two years, we’ve been holding hearings on this,” she said.
She also referenced former neo-Nazi Christian Picciolini’s testimony to the committee in September 2019 about various deradicalization techniques, which is why he was convinced to leave that subculture.
“We had a program addressing white [supremacists], we had federal programs that went toward funding organizations like these that deradicalize people, and President Trump pulled the plug on federal funding for some of these programs,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “And so one thing that we know is that we need to get that funding right back up, and we probably need to double, triple, quadruple, or increase funding for these deradicalizing programs en masse.”
“There is no deradicalizing in one conversation,” she said. “It did not take one conversation to convince people of the conspiracy theory that the election was stolen.”
“It took echoes, it took people hammering this, it took the president saying over and over and over again, it took his echo chamber saying it over and over and over again, it took this completely unaccountable misinformation bubble around him, hammering it over and over and over again,” she continued. “And that is how people get radicalized. And it takes a lot of that repeated effort to get people back out.”