Hate and violent extremism are generic. Just as superficial as the racial or religious motivations that drive individuals to think, speak, or act in hateful ways, the underlying problems are often shockingly similar. The common tale is one of isolation, frustrated personal aspirations, and a search for meaning and order. It’s not surprising, therefore, that efforts underway across the country to stop the spread of hateful ideologies frequently bear similarities to each other.
How do we, as a society, prevent the spread of hatred and extremist ideology? One common approach is to employ reformed members of a particular group or ideology to help prevent or reverse radicalization. One organization doing just that is Life After Hate, a nonprofit based in Chicago founded by former members of the American violent far-right extremist movement. Life After Hate works to engage radicalized individuals and help them disengage from the extremist movements they are involved with. In addition to their direct efforts to counter extremist ideology, the organization also conducts research, educational outreach, and consultation to community groups, government leaders, and other organizations in order to teach and further develop strategies and solutions for countering violent extremism.
In January, the Department of Homeland Security (then under President Obama), announced it would be awarding Life After Hate a $400k Countering Violent Extremism Grant. Unfortunately, the DHS under President Trump eliminated this promised grant funding for the organization, one of only a few in the country dedicated to combatting white extremism. Considering the ongoing surge in white supremacist ideology throughout the country, the current administration would do well to reconsider, and commit to fighting hate and extremism in all its many forms.