Winning Over White Supremacists–One Hater at a Time

In the wee hours this morning, as I was trying to catch up and visit a few friends’ blogs that I had not visited recently, I came across one that gave me pause. Since the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, extremist white supremacist groups have been much on our mind. It is easy to lump them together and think of those who perpetrate such crimes as something less than human, but … sometimes they just need somebody to show them that love is better than hate. Please take a few minutes to read Annie’s excellent post … you won’t regret it! Thank you, Annie, for the time and effort you spent on this … very thought-provoking!


Image from American

I am writing this piece with images of the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol still very fresh in my mind. It is a huge stretch to think of those brutal, sadistic, remorseless thugs and imagine summoning an iota of compassion for them. But others of their ilk–and many psychologists and researchers–say that’s precisely what’s needed.

They call themselves the “formers”: former Klansman, neo-Nazis, or generic white supremacists or other racial extremists who are now devoted to guiding those who’d followed similar paths to come to a better life.

Christian Picciolini is one of them. As a 14-year-old, he’d joined a violent group of white power adherents who became the “Hammerskin Nation.” As he described his feelings to Dave Davies in an NPR interview, the group threw him a “lifeline of acceptance…I felt a sort of energy flow through me that I had never felt before—as…

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19 thoughts on “Winning Over White Supremacists–One Hater at a Time

    • You’re right … it doesn’t take much brain to realize that all people are human, that we all deserve a chance, that skin colour, religion, sexual orientation and the rest are irrelevant. If somebody is going to judge another, it should be based on actions, not anything else. Sigh. I used to have hope that we were making progress, that people were learning, but … Trump came along and opened the door to racial hatred and other forms of bigotry, and now it is running rampant, so I’m not sure there is hope. Won’t stop us from trying to make a difference, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I made a comment on annie’s blog, which must have gone into moderation, because it did not appear yet on her post. But when I tried to make a second comment, it asked me to sign into WordPress, and then proceeded to tell me my password is incorrect. Oooooh, I hate WP, but all my WP friends are here, so I just have to put up with it, I guess.
    So, I’ll make this short and sweet. Despite words I have written over the past few years about what I would like to see happen to Trumpelstiltorangeskin and his heads, I am still a staunch supporter of, and believer in, restorative justice. Not just for haters, but for most common criminals, and mental help for those who need that. Retributive justice is for people with no hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amazing how quick they are to protect and even encourage bigotry and hated, isn’t it? The same has been happening here for several years. We no longer teach young people to think, to reason, to find the logic, but only to listen to the loudest, most obnoxious voices. Must protect the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis, the wife beaters … they have rights too, y’know. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I am not sure I want to remain in this world much longer. Sigh. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Jill—

    Thanks so much for the reblog. Please disregard the email I sent you. I got a huge red warning when I clicked on your comment earlier today. I reported it to WP, thinking it was a virus, but apparently it was spam-related and they fixed it. Anyway, it is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Annie — it was a great post! Whew … I’m relieved, for I was afraid that perhaps others were getting the same message, concerned there was something amiss with my blog. Thanks for both your email, for following up with WP, and for letting me know it’s all okay! And thanks for this post! Cheers!


  3. Jill, I posted this on Annie’s site. “Life after Hate” is an incredibly good name for an organization focused on change. I was sharing just today with an adult working with youth on civil discourse and addressing polarization about the success of a African-American man named Daryl Davis. Davis has talked over 200 members of the KKK to give up their robes and quit. How does he do it? He talks to them and asks questions. Then he listens and asks some more. He says people just want to be heard and often no one wants to listen. By listening it offers an avenue for them to hear him.

    In the absence of such exposure to people with different looks, colors, ethnicities, etc., fear seeps in. They become susceptible to fear mongers like the former president who uses fear as a tool to divide and conquer. The other thing I think we all can do is DO NOT BITE ON NAME-CALLING. When I see name calling, I see a person with a weak or no argument. The answer is not to cheapen the discussion with more name calling. That is precisely what the name caller wants – a mud fight. We should ignore name callers or offer a retort, I am happy to discuss your arguments, but name calling is not an argument.

    Listening, questioning, diplomatic push back will get us further. Thanks,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, come on, Keith, you don’t appreciate the satire of my calling Trump cultists Repuglygarbagecans, or Trumpelstiltorangeskinheads. I do not feel weak, or without an argument, and I do so like having fun with bastardized labels.


      • Rawgod, I was not typing this with anyone in mind, but I do find label use lessens an argument. To be fair, it is very hard to not define someone like the former president using a derogatory term like liar or corrupt, but I feel we need to make sure a term is more apt than not. Your examples are clever, but will turn off the people who need to see your point. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah, but I am not talking to them, here, I am talking to the choir.
          I know you did not mean your words to be taken personally, but I chose to do that for comic effect. It was just the mood I was in at the time. I was involved in a very serious conversation. I heeded some levity. Your words gave me the perfect opportunity. That was all…

          Liked by 1 person

    • Your thoughts and mine ran parallel, for I too was reminded of Daryl Davis and his winning over white supremacists, one person at a time, with understanding and compassion, not hate. In fact, I’m thinking to redux my post about him from a couple of years ago. My mother had a saying when I was young that I’ve never forgotten: “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. Seems apropos here, don’t you think?

      That said, I know from personal experience how hard it is not to rise to the bait of name-calling and other tactics that are sometimes used to get an argument started. I have a temper, as you well know by now, and I sometimes speak/write before giving myself a cool-down period to activate my brain. If I have trouble with it, and I am a relatively intelligent being, imagine how hard it is for others. Sigh. We must find a way, though. We must, else we are doomed to an ever-increasing world of conflict.


      • Jill, your response is consistent with mine to Rawgod. People want mud fights as they don’t have to do any homework. That is why it is imperative to give them facts and ask questions as both of you always do. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Carolyn! Yes, it was one of those “WOW” moments … thinking that yes, we CAN beat racism, white supremacy, and other forms of hate, even if only one person at a time. Great to be there! I’ll be back tonight, though likely only for one or two again. So overwhelmed, so depressed. Sigh.


  4. I think that much hate has to do with the absence of love being taught to children, and when they have no sense of their value and worth, they cannot estimate that in others. It seems easier to hate than to wrestle with one’s feelings and ask for help. Wonderful name: Life after Hate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree with you … well, almost. I think there is a small percentage of people who are simply born evil, but for the most part, I think it is the early influences in our lives, largely our families, who give us the foundation for the values that will carry us into and through adulthood. When I read about a 14-year-old joining a hate group … obviously something was lacking at home! But, at present, we are letting the hatred, the bigotry, destroy this nation … we must find a solution … somewhere, somehow.

      Liked by 1 person

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