The Escalating Risk of Mass Violence in the United States
October 24, 2021, Noon, Eastern Time (US and Canada)
The escalating level of political violence in the United States and around the world raises serious red flags about the erosion of democratic norms and the growing distrust of peaceful political processes. This presentation, using the United States as a case study, examines what happens when identity politics prevail over democracy, when a paralysis in governance leads to a political vacuum for extremist voices to exploit, when de facto social segregation becomes normalized, and when questions of who we are become secondary to who we are not. While the United States is not a failed or failing state, it is a fragile and flailing one; closer to breakdown than a breakthrough. There is a mountain of hard work to be done to restore trust in America’s democratic institutions, develop more inclusive narratives of memory, rebuild social cohesion, and nurture economic inclusivity.
James Waller is the Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College and the Director of Academic Programs for the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. He is the author of several books, most notably "Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing" (Oxford University Press), "Confronting Evil: Engaging Our Responsibility to Prevent Genocide" (Oxford University Press), and "A Troubled Sleep: Risk and Resilience in Contemporary Northern Ireland" (Oxford University Press, 2021). He has held numerous visiting professorships, including, most recently, as an honorary visiting research professor at Queen’s University Belfast.