Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Islamaphobia is more to be feared than neo-Nazis, says former white supremacist

Almost all violent criminals were abused by their parents. I notice in the several interviews with former extremists that they talk about having anger, but not where it came from. Do the former extremists not want to talk about possible roots in abusive childhoods, or do reporters not report it? Almost all violent criminals were abused by their parents,

BY INDIRA PRAHST, Instructor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Langara College, Vancouver
Jan. 23, 2015

ALTHOUGH some say that neo-Nazis are thriving, Tony McAleer, former organizer for the White Aryan Resistance and Executive Director of the organization “Life After Hate,” told me: “What is more to be feared is the mainstream intolerance that is going to come our way in the form of Islamaphobia.”

McAleer pointed out: “If you look at the tensions rising in Europe, it is an early warning. We see mosques being fired-bombed in Sweden, France and Germany and we are starting to see more and more mainstream people addressing views which would have been considered extremist a few years ago.”


PRAHST: Do you think this Islamaphobic climate can attract youth to being recruited into Neo-Nazi groups or incite violence among such members?

MCALEER: I think so, if I were to go back to who I was in my former lifetime as an organizer of white supremacy movements, we would be picking our jobs at the opportunities that are presenting themselves today. … A handful of extremists in Paris and the ISIS media coverage has shifted the conversation far more to the right than it was several weeks ago. And we would be doing the exact same thing. We would be taking advantage of those events to draw people closer to the extreme. … And by redefining what the outer end of extremism is we move the centre. … So in that context, I think that is the greatest danger- people shifting to a more intolerant viewpoint.


MCALEER: What I mean is that the ideology of ISIS and white power groups, neo-Nazi’s ideology of radical politics of the 70s, they are not the people that create extremism. I know – I was one of them. There are a number of things that happened in my life to get me to the point where in the end, I chose an ideology that gave me a sense of belonging and power that gave me permission to express my rage and anger in a violent way towards other humans. The ideology justified it and is the last piece to go on. The root causes are the same which I found to be true when I attended the summit against violent extremism in Dublin where I met 50 former violent extremists from around the world – IRA {Irish Republican Army], FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], Bloods [African American street gang founded in Los Angeles], MS13 [Mara Salvatrucha 13 formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s], Mujahedeen, Tamil Tigers, to name a few.


PRAHST: Visible minorities, in particular Muslims and Sikhs, are feeling vulnerable that this hatred may be projected onto them in the current geo-political climate. Any thoughts on that?

MCALEER: The climate is definitely ripe for something to happen, so we need to look at the warning signs. … The Nirmal Singh Gill murder incident in Surrey [in 1998 at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara parking lot] was fuelled by racism, ideology and alcohol. Those incidents can arise as the tensions rise but I would look for the mastermind piece to show up somewhere else. … If one wanted to capitalize on the [anti-]Islamic sentiment today, and launch something forward, it would not be in the form that neo-Nazism may grow, but as a by-product of it. It will be something that comes more into the mainstream, more acceptable views and more acts of violence – mainstream ideology going further to the right.


MCALEER: I came out feeling powerless because I was bullied and I gravitated towards a lifestyle and subculture that made me feel powerful. Violence is about power; it’s an expression of power. … In the current climate we have to be vigilant with youth who are vulnerable. I think over the last 20 years, there is a huge desensitization to violence – the meaning of people dying. There is such a culture of violence. It’s not only videogames, but also how nations interact with their foreign policy, how leaders of those countries have interacted with other nations, etc.

PRAHST: What is a recent strategy in your group that you are employing to help youth steer clear of getting recruited into neo-Nazi groups?

MCALEER: The mission of ‘life after hate’ is engaged in education about racism and intolerance, and we work to assist those trying to get out of extremist groups. But foremost is to inspire people to a place of compassion and forgiveness. The belief is that the more compassion I develop for myself, the more I diminish the capacity to harm another.

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