NPR recently featured the COVID States Project due to its new report that has found that 1 in 10 Americans say violence is justified “right now.” The same report, which surveyed 23,000 people across the country, also found that 1 in 4 said violence was either “definitely” or “probably” justifiable against the government. These findings seem to be supported by other polls taken by institutions like the University of Chicago and The Washington Post.
NULab Co-Director David Lazer finds this response unsurprising. As he told NPR, “You know, we begin with the American Revolution against an illegitimate government and so we are, in a sense, taught from grade school that it is at some points in history justifiable to engage in violent protest.”
The COVID States Project is an interdisciplinary and multi-university effort to examine public response to the pandemic. This effort has examined the effect of misinformation about vaccines, the extent to which Americans understand the science behind masks, and now how this national event has affected views on political violence.
Still, NPR also stresses that these findings may “overstate American support for political violence.” According to them, survey questions surrounding violence often don’t capture context, and a poll alone might not adequately determine how willing a populace is to engage in such action.