Far right targets recruits to government conspiracy theories from vaccine skeptics

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Far-right groups across the nation have aligned themselves with those opposed to masks and vaccines, seeking new allies around the issue of “medical freedom” while appearing to downplay their traditional focus on guns, belief in the tyranny of the federal government and calls by some for violent resistance.

Public health mandates and the push to vaccinate as many people as possible against covid-19 have become animating issues for patriot groups, which have long held conspiratorial views of the federal government. The Watchmen and others say that official responses to the pandemic, both at the state and federal level, are a stark example of government overreach — an argument that helps them appeal to new potential supporters, analysts say.

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At a moment when domestic extremism has been identified by the FBI as the major violent threat in the United States and lawmakers are focused on the fallout from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, researchers and health experts are increasingly concerned about the alliance forming nationwide between the radical right and vaccine-hesitant populations.

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