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Discussion A Former Alt-Right Member’s Message: Get Out While You Still Can

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Jul 2, 2005
Since it's too long for most of you to watch, I'll say that was fascinates me about it is the mechanism of his conversion. It was a combination of anger towards him by the students and also others reaching out to him. He didn't talk about his beliefs at school, but because of his famous father having been Grand Wizard of the KKK, some students figured out who he was, and there was a social media eruption where the student body agreed to never even look at him, to treat him as a non-person.

He felt so isolated that when the two other students who are in the video decided to be friendly toward him, he was receptive. The Jewish guy invited him to attend his family's Sabbath dinner. The Jewish family knew who he was, wouldn't discuss his beliefs, but treated him with kindness. He went every week for months. The woman decided to start talking to him about his beliefs and their pseudo-scientific basis. She was calm but persistent. Eventually, he realized that he'd been wrong his entire life. Renounced his beliefs, and his whole family.

It was a version of good cop, bad cop, writ large.
I watched the whole thing and what he said I believe to be true, most in that group keep reinforcing each other and so it hard to get fresh ideas to them and the ones they're targeting needs to be insulated from such views

and the subject of the OPs story can re-enter her chosen field but for the first years she'll have to write from that perspective as a convert from the alt-right and most likely as a freelancer.
Mar 11, 2004
I think since individuals vary so much in their core personality, approaches will vary from person to person. Derek is evidently a social person who didn't like feeling isolated, so when a couple students wanted to reach out, he was receptive. And he's smart and thought of his beliefs as scientifically based, so her approach of showing him studies contradicting his beliefs worked for him. Derek admits, however, that most people in the movement are unreachable, and that you really have to focus on stopping it from spreading to others.

He suggests focusing on the people the movement is trying to recruit: conservatives. Take someone with a little racial resentment who doesn't doesn't think of himself as racist. The white nationalists are looking for such people, and they will try to gradually nudge them toward more and more extreme positions. He thinks those people are reachable. Unfortunately, mainstream conservatism is so far into its own insular bubble right now that I don't think it's going to work for most of them. If you aren't one of them, they won't listen to you.

What we really need to do on the larger scale is not give them a platform to spread their ideas. Derek says that whenever they go on TV interviews, they see it as an opportunity to spread their beliefs to conservatives. They say things like, we don't hate other races, we're just celebrating our own heritage like the other races are. Media should never be giving these people these kinds of opportunities. Liberals may not see a problem because they immediately see the toxicity of the ideas, but conservatives may not see it that way and they can be lured.
That's why I think we need it at the personal level. Meaning, not letting people we know (relatives, co-workers) say some of the stuff they do without question. I've sadly done that way too much (I've known people that would call out others for being racist - when they were being blatantly racist - but would say lots of racist stuff and thinks they're not racist at all).

I think this is an area where social media and the weird isolation of it has enabled toxic mindsets to spread. Watching Donnie Darko recently made me chuckle at the dad and daughter arguing over Bush and Dukakis at dinner. I think that's less likely to happen these days, with people just internalizing things and bitching about it on social media later where they're more likely to have surrounded themselves with people agreeing (and if not, then the responses are often memes and hyperbole which doesn't exactly induce comprehensive discussion).

Also, we need to address that with people we don't know well, where there's no pre-established political "team" ascribed, so that they can't dismiss it as "politics" when it has nothing to do with that. Someone mentioning a situation (where a co-worker or someone they knew some but not really well, started saying racist stuff when it was just the two of them because they assumed that since they shared appearance they likely shared ideology/beliefs as well) which I think serves as a good place, where we need to start calling out behavior like that. And question their specious reasoning on other topics, be it conspiracy shit or just random asshole behavior.