aside Former White Supremacist Christian Picciolini Speaks Out On Charlottesville, VA.

 

White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville. Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS
White nationalists carry torches on the grounds of the University of Virginia, on the eve of a planned Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville. Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via REUTERS

On this blog, I and many others bloggers have decried US law enforcement’s focus on preventing terrorist activities by foreigners when the odds of Americans being harmed by domestic terrorists are much greater. But this set of priorities is not likely to change while we have a republican President Donald Trump in the White House who refuses to deal with credible studies but instead bases his policies on “fake news” supportive of his own ideology.

It is important to note that White Supremacists’ groups have been using  similar recruiting tactics practiced by ISIS as well as connecting with others via the same social website. There is a Russian version of Facebook, VK (VKontakte), which has been attracting a significant number of followers who are members of White Supremacists’ groups.

A per a 5/20/2016 Atlantic article by Olga Khazan, “White supremacists began migrating to VK over the past three years, Beirich said, when Facebook cracked down on hate speech. The platform offers a similar user experience as Facebook, complete with profiles and groups, but with seemingly less enforcement. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which also tracks extremist groups online, gave VK a D- grade for policing hate on its annual report card, but Facebook got a B-.”

White nationalists march in Charlottesville. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White nationalists march in Charlottesville. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

ANOTHER POPULAR CONNECTING FORUM /the terrorists’ choice for messaging on the internet is a version of twitter named the “telegram,” which is a Russian company based in Germany.

As per a 2013 Techcrunch.com article, “Created by the founders of Russia’s biggest social networking platform, Telegram is a new messaging app that offers speed, security and features such as secret chats with end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages.”

“Brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who launched VK (originally called VKontakte) in 2006, began working on Telegram 18 months ago as a research project because they wanted to create something that was “really secure and fun at the same time.” The importance of Telegram was underscored when Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA and PRISM were first made public in June.”

White nationalists clash with a group of counter-protesters. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White nationalists clash with a group of counter-protesters. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

On August 13, 2017, Janaya Williams and Stacey Vanek Smith of NPR penned the following report, “A Reformed White Nationalist Speaks Out On Charlottesville.”

Excerpts:

“Christian Picciolini says he was a “lost and lonely” teenager when he was recruited by a white nationalist group. Picciolini immersed himself in the organization’s ideology and by age 16, he had emerged as the leader of a group called the Chicago Area Skinheads. He even helped recruit others to the cause. That is until, he says, he had an awakening after the birth of his first child.”

“Picciolini says he renounced ties to the neo-Nazi movement in 1996 when he was 22 years old. He went on to co-found a group called Life After Hate  (a nonprofit that advocates for peace) and wrote a book entitled Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead.”

“Picciolini understands all too well the type of anger that was on display in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.”

“He spoke with NPR’s Stacey Vanek Smith about his reaction to what unfolded.”

Image result for photos of Christian Picciolini
Christian Picciolini

Here are interview highlights


On what his reaction was as he watched the events unfold

“It was both disheartening to me but also, unfortunately, not a surprise because my organization and myself have been warning about this specific situation for many, many years. You know, we left the movement 30 years ago and have spent the last 20 or so years trying to help people disengage from these extremists groups. We’ve also seen that underground this has been growing, but it’s also been shape-shifting. It’s gone from what we would have considered very open neo-Nazis and skinheads and KKK marching, to now people that look like our neighbors, our doctors, our teachers, our mechanics. And it’s certainly starting to embolden them because a lot of the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House today is so similar to what we preached … but in a slightly more palatable way.”

“I think ultimately people become extremists not necessarily because of the ideology. I think that the ideology is simply a vehicle to be violent. I believe that people become radicalized, or extremist, because they’re searching for three very fundamental human needs: identity, community and a sense of purpose.”

“If underneath that fundamental search is something that’s broken — I call them potholes — is there abuse or trauma or mental illness or addiction? In my case, many years ago, it was abandonment. I felt abandoned, and that led me to this community. But what happens is, because there are so many marginalized young people, so many disenfranchised young people today with not a lot to believe in, with not a lot of hope, they tend to search for very simple black-and-white answers.”

A Klan flier left on lawns in Augusta, Me.

“Because of the Internet, we now have this propaganda machine that is flooding the Internet with conspiracy theory propaganda from the far right — disinformation — and when a young person who feels disenchanted, or disaffected, goes online, where most of them live, they’re able to find that identity online.”

“They’re able to find that community, and they’re able to find that purpose that’s being fed to them by savvy recruiters who understand how to target vulnerable young people. And they go for this solution because, frankly, it promises paradise. And it requires very little work except for dedicating your life to that purpose.”

“But I can say that they’re all being fooled, because the people at the very top have an agenda. And it’s a broken ideology that can never work, that in fact, is destroying people’s lives more than the promise that they were given of helping the world or saving the white race.”

An officer patrols in front of a recent KKK rally in Charlottesville, Va.
An officer patrols in front of a recent KKK rally in Charlottesville, Va.

On Charlottesville as a turning point for this country politically and philosophically

“I believe that the world has now seen what we have been sweeping under the rug for many many years — thinking we were in a post-racial society. … I think that this catalyst shows the world, 1: that it’s a problem, a real problem, that exists in our country; 2: that white extremism should be classified as terrorism, and now that we attached the terrorism word to it, it will get more resources. It will be at the top of people’s minds.”

“What people need to understand is that since Sept. 11, more Americans have been killed on U.S. soil by white supremacists than by any other foreign or domestic group combined by a factor of two. Yet we don’t really talk about that, nor do we even call these instances, of the shooting at Charleston, S.C., or what happened at Oak Creek, Wis., at the Sikh temple or even what happened in Charlottesville this weekend — as terrorism.”

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13 comments

    • Dear Kim,

      What hit home to me is that White Supremacists are targeting a similar profile of disenfranchised young men as what ISIS does. Both terrorist groups with their extreme ideologies promise them a life with purpose, direction.

      I just hope that US law enforcement starts taking the threat of domestic terrorism, more seriously.

      Thanks a million times over for all of your support and for this reblog.

      Hugs, Gronda

  1. This movement needs to be called what it is, white supremacy. Good. No more names like Alt-Right. Bring the truth right out in the open. The KKK, Neo Nazis, and other hate groups may find there’s a considerable downside to being well known. 😦 — Suzanne

    • Dear Suzanne,

      The Associated Press, the Huffington Post and some other news outlets are now refusing to use the term alt-right in the future. You are so right. The truth does not need to be glossed over but exposed when it comes to titles like KKK, Nazis, neo-Nazis, White supremacists, White nationalists and racists.

      Thanks a million times over for all of your support and for this reblog.

      Hugs, Gronda

  2. Gronda, NPR had a discussion with two experts on these groups. Now, they are more organized and have sanded around the edges, like ISIS does. Some use the term White advocacy up mask their darker side. They are a scary bunch, who are emboldened by a sympathetic President. Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      People are catching on. News organizations like Associated Press and Huffington Post are refusing to use euphemisms for White supremacists/ nationalists.

      They are a scary bunch who have been emboldened by the US president. But they are also witnessing the backlash.

      I’m with you on this one. The Charlottesville events may have been his Waterloo.

      Hugs, Gronda

  3. Terrific article. I did not grow up in the south, therefore I can’t understand why they cling to these men who were trying to tear America apart…aside from the racism theory of course – I happened to go to Stone Mountain Georgia, not realizing there was an enormous monument to the Confederate leaders there – it’s unsettling to see this “tribute” – here are some pictures of it if you are interested – https://johnrieber.com/2017/08/16/georgias-enormous-confederate-memorial-at-stone-mountain-the-controversial-robert-e-lee-stone-mountain-carving/

  4. Dear Johnrieber,

    Welcome!

    Thanks for the photos. They are sobering.

    These men are a part of the south’s history which can be part of museums but not on public display in parks, etc. This history does not do our country proud.

    If there is one positive outcome from the recent Charlottesville, VA. events, is that any further attempts to pretend that racism no longer exists, has been put to rest.

    Thanks for stopping by and Hugs, Gronda

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