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Extremism Headlines: Attacks on LGBTQ+ churches, Border Convoy rhetoric

Every week, we highlight stories on extremism and the radical right from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. Here are stories that caught our attention through March 1.

Anti-LGBTQ+ hate group appears to blame trans rights for attacks on trans-affirming churches

  • Hatewatch published an analysis piece on a report from the anti-LGBTQ+ hate group Family Research Council (FRC) that claimed to show an increase in “acts of hostility” at U.S. churches in 2023. The analysis found that attacks on LGBTQ+-affirming churches represented nearly 20% of the total incidents documented by FRC. But Perkins and others at FRC claim the report is evidence that LGBTQ+ civil rights create a threat to Christians churches, without acknowledging that 20% of the churches the report lists affirm LGBTQ+ rights.
  • An expert told Hatewatch that such narratives are "'political talking points' that attempt to erase entire communities of LGBTQ+ Christians and faith leaders."

Tucker Carlson hosts anti-immigrant white nationalist on X 

  • Hatewatch also published a story on former Fox host Tucker Carlson's interview of Lydia Brimelow, an officer of white nationalist hate group VDARE and wife of the group’s founder, Peter Brimelow. Brimelow portrayed their organization as a victim of “cancel culture.” But VDARE has amplified the works of white supremacist extremists and brought together the anti-immigrant right and white nationalist movements, the article said. Despite this, Carlson did not challenge Brimelow during the interview.
  • Carlson, who departed Fox News in April 2023, has formed a partnership with X, formerly known as Twitter. Tech billionaire Elon Musk completed his purchase of then-Twitter in October 2022. Since then, some fringe and far-right extremists previously banned on X have seen their accounts reinstated

Christopher Rufo and 'dissident right' IM-1776

  • Christopher Rufo, a prominent figure in the right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ culture war, has maintained a significant association with IM-1776, a "dissident right" magazine, The Guardian reported on Feb. 21. IM-1776 consistently praises dictators, promotes racist ideologies and attacks liberal democracy, according to the report. The magazine’s editors and writers advocate for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act, celebrate figures like the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski and Italian nationalist Gabriele D’Annunzio, and propagate conspiracy theories about the Covid pandemic. Rufo wrote a manifesto for the magazine on right-wing activism and encouraged his audience to engage with it, the article claims.
  • Hatewatch has previously reported on Rufo's fellowship with The Danube Institute (DI), a Budapest nonprofit that receives most of its funding from the Hungarian government. DI paid Rufo $35,000 for his fellowship, which required him to give lectures on “topics of critical race theory and LGBTQ propaganda," according to the contract.

Antigovernment groups emboldened by politicians' border rhetoric 

  • State and federal politicians have spouted anti-immigrant messaging that has emboldened antigovernment groups and hard-right actors in Eagle Pass, Texas, and elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border, Hatewatch reported on Feb. 27.  Elected officials are relying on anti-immigrant messages to justify Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's response to a showdown with the federal government, the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and the failure of an immigration reform package in the Senate. 
  • Antigovernment extremists and hard-right figures have mobilized the "Take Back Our Border" convoy throughout the country and ending in Texas, Arizona and California. QAnon influencers, sovereign citizens, far-right conspiracy theorists and paramilitary-type groups have all joined or supported the convoy, the article reported. 

View last week's edition here: Extremism Headlines: Neo-Nazi rally, True the Vote election denial, Biggs at Proud Boys event

Above photo: A participant carries a sign outside of a "Take Our Border Back" rally, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Quemado, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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