You’ve seen the story in the media. A kid stumbles across fringe ideas online, gets involved with the wrong crowd, and ends up in the headlines for committing some act of violence. These stories follow a familiar arc. The only problem? For every person that follows this trajectory, many more will adopt fringe ideas and never commit violence. And for every hard-core idealogue that commits violence, there are people drawn to the violence, not the ideology. Following reprehensible acts of white supremacist violence, lawmakers are understandably grasping for solutions. But reliance on outdated radicalization theory empowers law enforcement agencies to trample over constitutional rights and civil liberties, all while misleading law enforcement about the causes of white supremacist violence.
“Kashgar is a key location for the land and sea interface of the Belt and Road, connecting not only westward to West Asia, Europe, the Red Sea and Africa, but also southward to the Indian Ocean through the port of Gwadar,” said Professor Li Bo of the China Research Institute, Fudan University. It is, he told us, “a core area of the Belt and Road strategy.” Kashgar, one of the westernmost cities in China, is the main urban area of southern Xinjiang. Traders from across Asia have assembled at its Sunday bazaar for 2,000 years. More than 1,000 kilometers north of Kashgar is the town of Nur-Sultan, previously known as Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Here, in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke about the need for a “Silk Road Economic Belt.