AUTHOR OF THE WEEK January 25, 2021
“I am a former violent extremist, who as a young man spent almost a decade during the 1980s and ‘90s as a leader in the American white-supremacist movement. Since denouncing racism, I have dedicated my life to ensuring others don’t tread the same dark path I once held.”
“It was those people who chose to treat me with compassion, when I least deserved it, that had the most powerful transformative effect on me. Meeting on a fundamental human level is still the most powerful thing that I’ve seen break hate.”
Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, a public speaker, author, peace advocate, and a former violent extremist. After leaving the hate movement he helped create during his youth in the 1980s and ’90s, he began the painstaking process of making amends and rebuilding his life. Christian went on to earn a degree in international relations from DePaul University and launched Goldmill Group, a counter-extremism consulting and digital media firm. In 2016, he won an Emmy Award for producing an anti-hate advertising campaign aimed at helping people disengage from extremism. Christian’s life since leaving the white-power movement over two decades ago has been dedicated to helping others overcome their own hate. He now leads the Free Radicals Project, a global extremism prevention and disengagement network. Hachette Books.
Read the interview at The Atlantic 2019 “A Reformed White Nationalist Says the Worst Is Yet to Come.”
NPR’s interview with Picciolini “Reformed Neo-Nazi Discusses President Trump’s Controversial Shared Retweet.”
“I think what President Trump is, is a megaphone,” Picciolini said. “It’s as if Trump kicked over a bucket of gasoline on all of those small fires that have existed for 400 years and created one large forest fire.”
Book Review from James Clapper, former US Director of National Intelligence, of Breaking Hate: “This riveting narrative portrays on an intensely personal level the impacts of extremism. Encouragingly, it also identifies a method for recovery. Picciolini’s experience and practice reinforce the truism that hate is a learned behavior, and it can be unlearned. Breaking Hate should be required reading for all citizens who care about dangerous behavior, want to understand it, and are committed to reducing it.”
NOTE: After reading Breaking Hate (220 pages) in one day (it was that compelling), I found a far wider understanding of this white supremacy movement going on in America. I really didn’t fully see that the MAGA (Make America Great Again) campaign was, at the core, an effort to make America white again, essentially make America hate again. Picciolini says that “America was primed for the fires of violent extremism to ignite—and Donald Trump’s incendiary “American First” platform lit the fuse.” There is a lot in this book to absorb and a lot to learn about WHY and HOW this is happening and what can be done to stop it. I am posting a full book review on Amazon, Goodreads, and separately here on this blog. If you really want insights into the current racist dangers that threaten America, humanity, our democratic and moral values—especially after the January 6 attack on our Capitol—this is the book to read for 2021. A must-read for every American and every parent.
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