The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

Reactions of increased radicalization in United States

January 3, 2017


Information graphic by Megan Karnuth

Due to the recent election results, there has been a rise of what some are calling radicalization. People believe women, minorities, and the LGBT community will be oppressed because of things Trump has said before and during the election. Others just will not accept that Trump is president and refuse to believe it. Students have seen the increase of radicalization in many aspects, including in school.

A radical is someone who works to achieve a goal and can often be confused with a terrorist, but the two are different. Radicalization does not have to include violence and is actually most commonly peaceful. Radicals are seen as people who express their views in an extreme manner and will go as far as possible to accomplish a certain goal. For example, Black Lives Matter is currently one of the biggest radical groups who are advocating for equality within the African American community.

Junior Joe Sanderson is a part of the Mock Trial Young Republicans and became involved in politics because he wanted to challenge the people who believed that Trump would be a weak President-elect. He believes that radicalization is not only an effect of the new presidency but has been around in America for many years.

Sanderson explained, “I think radicalization is when someone is so convinced that their idea is for the best, correct and they have such extreme thoughts about something, so they will do almost anything. Radicalization is in Black Lives Matter, which is not necessarily a hate group, but they are so convinced that they are right. Religious terrorists and the KKK  are also radical groups, which uses fear and intimidation to punish people.”

Recently, there was an attack on Ohio State University by what press are calling an Islamic radical. Religion is said to be what motivates radicals such as Al-Qaeda, which is the most prominent terrorist group in the United States. There is a difference between cultural radicalization and anti-government radicalization. Sanderson thinks that cultural radicalization is more dangerous to America as a whole.

Sanderson said, “Protest radicalization is happening frequently, but thankfully a lot of people, like radicals at the Dakota access pipeline, things have worked out well. Islam radicals are a bigger deal than people that are protesting  because they are doing illegal things as in killing people because his god told him too.”

Senior Emmery Hartwig became involved in politics because of this year’s election. One thing she has done to involve herself politically is emailing and calling the sheriff’s department that was in charge of occupying Standing Rock. She called them because she wanted them to end their attacks against peaceful protestors and she even got a call back. Standing Rock protestors are fighting to defend sacred Native American land that is in danger of being torn apart for an oil pipeline. After protests and discovering another oil leakage contaminating local drinking water, the construction permit was denied and the people got to keep their historical land. She disagrees with Sanderson and believes that anti-government radicalization is more dangerous.

Hartwig explained, “I think both [types of radicalization] have the potential to be very dangerous but radicalization due to resentment of the government is more of a threat to the United States right now especially because of how divided the country seems to be, and how many people on all ends of the political spectrum have issues with our current government.”

Protests that have lead to violence and controversy are not just anti-Trump rallies, but people who have advocated for him have been shown to express views of white supremacy.

Hartwig added, “Trump’s win allowed people with radical views to feel safe expressing them and I also believe the reaction to these views have radicalized many left-wingers as well.”

Days following the election, there were many upset students, but also some that were very pleased with the results. This caused tears and arguments from those who were passionate about their political views. There was also controversy in response to some students deciding to sit for the pledge.

I think there are some people on both sides [conservative and liberal] at the school who go a little bit above and beyond with what they said and what they intend to do.”

— Joe Sanderson

Sanderson said, “I think there are some people on both sides [conservative and liberal] at the school who go a little bit above and beyond with what they said and what they intend to do.”

Junior Maggie Jones is a part of young Democrats and became interested in politics when Bernie Sanders was running for president. She believes that there is reasoning behind those who have the ‘Trump is not my president’ attitude.

Jones added, “I know that many people who are labeled as being radical are a lot like myself. Many people desire to make a change, and I think the word radical gives people like myself a bad name. It’s a scary word, but isn’t too scary when you actually think about what it means.”

Although it is common for students to disagree with their political views, it is a common belief that without radicalization there would not be changes needed to suit the needs of American people.

Hartwig said, “Personally, I believe the correct way to make a change in the government is to do whatever is possible to enact the change as long as it does not go against the rights and liberties of others. I believe it is sometimes necessary to break a law if the law is outdated, oppressive, or unconstitutional.”

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