Then and Now: Right-wing Extremism in 1995 and 2015

  • March 25, 2015

Read the full report, Then and Now: Right-Wing Extremism in 1995 and 2015 (PDF).

In April 1995, the Oklahoma City bombing delivered unprecedented death and destruction to America’s heartland – and focused the country’s attention on the problem of right-wing extremism. Just six years later, however, the 9/11 terror attacks understandably diverted America’s consciousness away from the extreme right. In the intervening years, extreme right-wing movements have managed to fly largely under the radar of public awareness.

The 20th anniversary of the bombing is an opportunity for Americans to take stock: How has the extreme right changed in the past two decades? Is it more dangerous? Less dangerous? Could something like the Oklahoma City bombing happen today?

This report examines the state of right-wing extremism at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and compares it with right-wing extremism as the United States is facing it in 2015.  In recent years, the extreme right has seen its greatest surge of activity since the mid-1990s, so a comparison can be particularly revealing.

The report examines the state of white supremacist movements in 1995 and 2015, as well as the state of anti-government extremist movements in those two eras as well.  Moreover, it illustrates how the radical changes in technology between 1995 and 2015 have changed how right-wing extremist movements operate today.

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