Winning Over White Supremacists–One Hater at a Time

Winning over white supremacists one at a time.

annieasksyou...

Image from American Progress.org

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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