Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism

Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism

by Christian Picciolini


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From a onetime white-supremacist leader now working to disengage people from extremist movements, Breaking Hate is a "riveting" (James Clapper), "groundbreaking" (Malcolm Nance), "horrifying [but] hopeful" (S.E. Cupp) exploration of how to heal a nation reeling from hate and violence.

Today's extremist violence surges into our lives from what seems like every direction — vehicles hurtling down city sidewalks; cyber-threats levied against political leaders and backed up with violence; automatic weapons unleashed on mall shoppers, students, and the faithful in houses of worship. As varied as the violent acts are the attackers themselves — neo-Nazis, white nationalists, the alt-right, InCels, and Islamist jihadists, to name just a few. In a world where hate has united communities that traffic in radical doctrines and rationalize their use of violence to rally the disaffected, the fear of losing a loved one to extremism or falling victim to terrorism has become almost universal.

Told with startling honesty and intimacy, Breaking Hate is both the inside story of how extremists lure the unwitting to their causes and a guide for how everyday Americans can win them-and our civil democracy-back. Former extremist Christian Picciolini unravels this sobering narrative from the frontlines, where he has worked for two decades as a peace advocate and "hate breaker." He draws from the firsthand experiences of extremists he has helped to disengage, revealing how violent movements target the vulnerable and exploit their essential human desires, and how the right interventions can save lives.

Along the way, Picciolini solves the puzzle of why extremism has come to define our era, laying bare the ways in which modern society-from "fake news" and social media propaganda to coded language and a White House that inflames rather than heals-has polarized and radicalized an entire generation.

Piercing, empathetic, and unrestrained, Breaking Hate tells the sweeping story of the challenge of our time and provides a roadmap to overcoming it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316522939
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 02/25/2020
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 144,053
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

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. He has spoken all over the world, including on the TEDx stage, sharing his unique and extensive knowledge, teaching all who are willing to learn about building greater peace through empathy and compassion. Christian's involvement in, and exit from, the early American white-supremacist skinhead movement is chronicled in his memoir White American Youth, and he is the featured subject in season 3 of WBEZ's "Motive" podcast. He showcases his disengagement work in a second book, Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism, published in February 2020, as well as the MSNBC documentary series of the same name.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Foreword xiii

Introduction: Nation of Hate xvii

Prologue-The Crossroads of Union and Division xxv

Part 1 Pre-Radicalization-"The Marginalized Seeker"

1 Warning Signs: The Prelude to Hate: Kassandra 3

2 What Leads Us to Extremism: Kassandra 11

3 The Hate We See: Daniel 25

4 Hate Becomes Normalized: Ben 39

5 White Pride Worldwide: Kassandra 51

6 Extremist Recruitment: Reggie 61

7 A Mental Health Crisis: Kassandra 67

8 Toxic Masculinity: Dallas 81

9 The Propaganda of Hate: Kassandra 91

10 The Threats We Ignore: Kassandra 99

11 Terror by Another Name: Koval 105

12 A Withdrawal from Hate: Kassandra 111

Part 2 Radical-"The True Believer"

13 Lone Wolf: Dylann 121

Part 3 De-Radicalization-"The Enlightened Seeker"

14 The Seven "L" Steps of Disengagement 135

15 Link: See the Child, Not the Monster: Koval 139

16 Listen: Filter Out the White Noise: Omar 147

17 Learn: Mapping the Journey: Ben 161

18 Leverage: Filling Potholes: Daniel 173

19 Lift: The Quest for ICP: Reggie 179

20 Love: Building Bridges: Daniel 187

21 Live: Free Radical: Kassandra 191

22 TBD (To Be De-Radicalized): Richard 207

Acknowledgments 219

Appendix I Resources and Support 223

Appendix II Recommended Further Reading 225

About the Author 229

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