HOW TO DEAL WITH NAZIS, RACISTS AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS: COMPASSION IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN SHAMING — A Case Study

Check out this article for empirical case study based proof:

https://theintercept.com/2017/08/17/this-group-has-successfully-converted-white-supremacists-using-compassion-trump-defunded-it/

Key quotes:

“[Life After Hate is an organization] founded by former white supremacist leaders in 2011, it studies the forces that draw people to hate and helps those who are willing to disengage from radical extremist movements.

Life After Hate’s approach focuses on compassion, counseling, and redemption. The idea of redeeming a white nationalist or neo-Nazi is understandably shocking to many Americans — and for many but history is full of examples of people who’ve shed their hatred and repented later in life.

Rangel is a believer. He himself comes from a life of redemption. He rejects the idea that people drawn to extremism can’t be redeemed based on his own experience.

“The rest of the team were all members of white supremacist groups and were in leadership roles. They were the core of those groups.”

“I had a lot of mental health diagnoses that said I was incorrigible, I was anti-social … basically that I couldn’t change, and yet here I am.”

“What we all have in common, for the most part, is that compassion and empathy are common themes in what helped turn us around,” he said. “What finally got through.”

That puts Rangel’s organization on the opposite side of activists and organizations that are using punitive tactics, such as online shaming and physical fights, against white nationalist groups.

The negative things that we think to do to challenge the other side only help us dig in. It’s only through kindness, it’s only through understanding, it’s only through compassion and peace that people were able to get past all of our armor. It was never aggression, it was never shaming.”

Rangel said that white nationalist organizations promote a sense of belonging to individuals who join, something that is hyper-charged by the internet — where extremist groups can confirm and exacerbate people’s fears and vulnerabilities

“We get online and then we follow a rabbit hole of algorithms that takes us down a deep but narrower path … that helps validate our concerns, helps validate what we’re afraid about, and then we realize we’re not alone,” he said. “Where it turns into extremism is when they promote this sense of social obligation as a sense of activism, and that the only way to be activist is to be violent. That’s where it goes into extremism.”

“I would say is what we would offer would come from a place of being nonjudgmental. Whatever we would talk about would definitely stay between us. And that we would like to share our own experience as Formers and share what has been helpful to us in turning around the way we participate in life … whenever they’re ready our door would be open to them.”

Critics may accuse Life After Hate of naïveté, and argue that the only way to deal with such elements of our society is with shame, not compassion.

If the goal, though, is not immediate moral satisfaction but actually reducing the strength of white supremacist movements, the more effective path may lie in empathy.

For Rangel, the dozens of white nationalists the organization has convinced to give up their past ways are proof enough to him of his approach. “I would say show me the evidence,” he replied. “Tell me not what you can think or feel but what you can prove. If you can show me someone you have shamed into changing, beaten into changing, by all means I want to see that. But I don’t think that’s the way for anyone.”

Comments are closed.