I’ve given tips before on combating hate and extremism, yes, this will be another one of those articles, but as I grow and contemplate the old me, more comes to mind as to what I would not have wanted to deal with. These articles are important, I’m not someone who got a degree in extremism, nor someone who has studied it, or has to put myself into an extremist’s shoes, I lived it first hand and have since recovered. I write these articles with hopes the rational individuals fighting the good fight against extremism will listen and take these things to heart, applying them and watching the fruits of this work.
Some of these tips, I’d given in previous articles here and on several other websites and interviews, but I’ll elucidate upon them further here for SOS readers. The more these tips get into the right hands, the more we can get to the true work of genuinely combating extremism, instead of merely reinforcing their perverse ideology, or pushing a tired and idiotic mainstream media narrative.
Tip number I (for the media) – There is no bad coverage for an extremist, say they are evil incarnate, claim they are fools and violent, claim that they are toothless, uneducated swine, say they’re filled with vitriol and hate, and guess what, you’ve still given them what they want. Bad publicity is still publicity and gets their message out to others, it still fulfills their endgame, to spread and grow their ideology to those who will listen. Whenever we’d hold a rally or flyer campaign, the media would be there to cover it and no matter how scathing the coverage of it, we’d gain numbers, we’d get people contacting us and asking questions.
The media LOVES covering hate groups, not to expose them, but because the more they do so, the more ratings go up, the more people fear those insidious individuals mentioned, and the easier it is to garner ad revenue and sell ad space. Hate groups and extremists are good for business and with the coverage the groups get, they gain new members, so it’s sadly mutually beneficial!
So what can or should be done then? Have morals and journalistic integrity and stop printing anything about them unless a crime is committed by their members, otherwise, you’re a free advertisement for extremism. When a smear piece would get printed about us, we’d say, “you know who controls the media… hint hint,”… and, “man the phone lines, an influx is coming.” So not only was the media advertising for us free of charge but also reinforcing the beliefs and ideology of those in the movement.
What is reported is just as important as why one is reporting on it, is it really important to talk about fringe hate groups flyers or a small rally, which most are in fact very small. The largest rally I’d ever personally been to had about 80 people and about 400 counter-protestors and remained 100% peaceful throughout it. Yet the way the news reported it, “Tensions were high on both sides and violence could erupt at any minute” …good for sales, good for ad revenue, great for hate groups. So with no violence, a small fringe group preaching hate, and a massive counter by citizens, why did it make the news?
If I had ten friends and we all decided to hold a rally about how kittens are better than puppies, would the news cover it? how about if I got 100 people to do it, would the news feel a need to be there and even mention it? What if twice as many puppy lovers showed up to counter the narrative, would the news be there? Why wouldn’t they? What then are their motives in covering hate marches and rallies?
Tip number II (about Antifa) – No, they are not some right-wing conspiracy boogieman, they are organized and do plan violence… yet they don’t actually fight fascism, they embolden it. Antifa has slashed car tires, broken car windows, showed up armed to rallies, thrown bottles of urine at those in extremist movements, and have stopped nothing. All they have ever done is prove to be just as much a group of extremists as those who they fight against, just on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Nothing brought us together closer, made us more alert and bond closer than when Antifa was nearby or knew where we were staying before a rally. Antifa adamantly reinforced the ideology we had, we would say, “These animals are proof of the lesser type of people and evil we’re up against,” and the false bonds of brother/sisterhood would bring us together (even if only for a brief time). They don’t stop extremism, they don’t combat extremism, they are extremism of another stripe and the perfect yin to the right-wing yang. Antifa was complimentary to what we were doing and believed if anything!
On the far right, you had fascism, on the far left, you had communism, and guess what a majority of Antifa are involved in? If you said communism ding ding winner winner chicken dinner!
Extremism is extremism, regardless of the side it’s on, and if you want to get rid of extremism, you have to get rid of both sides or you are empowering both sides. While Antifa started as a countermeasure during WWII, and was wholly beneficial to fighting the Nazi’s, today it is simply communism to counter fascism. Both sides are deplorable, both sides are failed experiments and both sides are horrible extremists who enable the other’s existence. As Newton’s third law states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Tip number III (For everyone) – All extremism is fed by your fear, which the media does a fantastic job of perpetuating, fear and intimidation are the cornerstones of these movements. So how do we combat that, how can we counter it without giving extremists exactly what fuels them? This is easy peasy lemon squeezy, use humor, spoof them, laugh at them, make comic strips to turn them into a joke, and rob them of the power that they desire over you.
When people were afraid and when they seemed intimidated, we were emboldened, we marched harder, saluted more, and shouted more evil, but when people were laughing at us, when people said we were silly or we saw people of all races holding hands and laughing in unison, we were disarmed and felt defeated. This is an incredibly powerful weapon to use to combat extremism, laughter, and togetherness, as division and fear were our desired outcome.
Extremist groups are fringe groups, much smaller and less effective than the media makes them out to be, and those extreme enough to commit won ton acts of violence are a fringe amongst the fringe. Nearly every group I have been a part of has said to emphatically stay non-violent, but if it comes (which we often egged on) to fight to the death. So laugh at them, laugh at their antiquated hatred of those different from them, laugh at their fear, laugh at their intimidation and send them home defeated.
All of the screaming, profanity, and tough-guy acting does nothing to stop or hinder extremists, in fact, it does just the opposite. They want you scared, they want you to act out so they can say their enemies are filthy animals, they want what people are giving them, so why would they stop? It should be obvious to any logical and rational individual that if everything people have been doing all of this time isn’t working, a new approach is needed to TRULY combat extremism.
Tip number IV (For everyone again) – Dissect extremists ideology and dismantle it with facts, logic, and proof. This is a powerful tool and the more public the facts can be put out there, the more people will question the false narrative of their ideologies and revisionist histories put forth by extremists. This is absolutely necessary, as when I left the life of hate, I still had to face the ideology alone and learn to break free from it by willfully finding information, researching it, and that could have been much easier if the information was widespread.
Information and facts need to be used to dissolve the ideology that is engrained in extremists and that information needs to spread as prevalently as extremists spread their messages. If I was exposed to information with facts back when I was in the movement, I no doubt in my mind, would have left it much sooner than I did. Revisionist history, the ideology which asserts [insert a race] are evil and out to exterminate [insert the extremist’s race], coupled with a skewed perception of current events, leads to extremism, all of which can and should be combated with facts and logic.
Yes, I know a few websites have SOME information, but it takes more to break the indoctrination than, “No they aren’t like that, stop hating people.” How about cultural exchange centers where people learn about each other, experience foods from different cultures, and have fun learning about the cultures of the people in our country? That was a dream of Bee and me when he was alive and I’d love to see it come to fruition someday. Nothing breaks the indoctrination of a fear-based ideology, like meeting others and getting to know their culture, seeing things from other’s points of view, and making friends with them… no one wants to see a friend or a culture they respect get hurt!
Tip number V (For you) – No child is too small, no adult too old to work towards Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), this isn’t a spectator sport, it is a willful and deliberate work to end hate and extremism. I like to combine a bit of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and say, “By any means peacefully possible.” We can all play a role in this, it is possible to heal society, but division must end, unity must reign supreme and we must recognize the humanity in each other. Only then will our children and our children’s children live in a place of peace.
Love thy neighbor as thyself (Proverbs 8:13)