But racial dynamics, the presenter claimed, went beyond explicit signs like the lynch. As compared to violent crowd-dispersal dynamics seen when protesters were primarily black, she claimed, the pro-Trump protesters were met with a primarily peaceful response. Local police were hesitant to engage with the protesters, who moved through the building with relative ease – many of them took selfies inside the building, potentially less anxious about being identified later.
The presenter identified this as an element of privilege: this confidence may have stemmed from how the primarily-white protesters may not have been used to violent response during politicized mass rallies. She also identified that the media treated them differently than black protesters in BLM gathering: the Capitol participants were initially called "demonstrators" instead of "looters" or "rioters" in the media. The presenter claimed these dynamics as an example of how identity markers impact the ways that socio-political conflicts are received in contemporary America.
Media responses to the storming showed another deep-seated identity-based divide: political affiliation. Another presenter discussed how following liberal- or conservative-aligned media outlets showed sometimes entirely different portrayals of the event, with right-leaning outlets offering more favourable coverage (or at least less critical), while left-leaning coverage was often scathing.
A third presenter discussed these dynamics in more detail, describing an increasing body of research identifying liberal and conservative identities as salient factors in contemporary North American conflict. Scholars studying this trend include Lilianna Mason
, who claims politics forms an identity marker on par with race, class or gender, Jonathan Haidt
, who identifies cognitive and moral roots to political and religious disagreements, and Vamik Volkan
, whose theories on trauma, memory and narrative have been discussed in previous classes.
An issue with political affiliation identity, though, is that it's a relatively new contempt in the field and hasn't received as much attention as other identity markers. While much of the literature on ethnic conflict emphasizes the need to legitimize all sides involved, actors in political conflicts often seek to delegitimize the other side in ways not conducive to the construction of sustainable peace.