Let me preface this statement by saying it is not my policy or that of Beyond Barriers to align with any specific Political Party or their agendas, but rather to be able to work towards unity for all of humanity.
The lawlessness in our Nation’s Capitol yesterday was reprehensible and for many almost unimaginable. Four people lost their lives there yesterday. America’s embarrassing divisions were on full display for the entire world to witness. It was deeply disturbing on so many levels.
As many of you know, I condemn extremism from all sides. As a former extremist (Neo-Nazi) leader unfortunately I understand all too well how people can get to the point of hate, violence, and in many cases even to the justification criminality. There is no justification for criminality, but in the extremist mindset they often justify it if it suits their deeply held beliefs or goals. Learning about the factors, the psychological drivers, and combining that knowledge with lived experience from my own personal journey as someone who used pour gasoline on flames of discontent has been a deeply introspective awakening. As most reading this know my motivations for speaking out on extremism is to save lives, not particularly the lives of extremists, but the lives of innocent people who could potentially be harmed by an extremist who has gone off the deep end for lack of a better term. If the life of the extremist is changed for the better and salvaged in the process that’s merely a bonus.
As much as I regret the past life I chose for myself, one positive thing to come from it is the lived experience and insights gained. Another reason I do the work I do now is because of the unique and rare insights I gained leading the largest extremist movement of its kind in the USA for 25 years. It’s the silver lining of a regretful past folks, a burden, but one I can utilize to give back and help others, which is exactly what I have been doing. Enough about my journey and past, the point of this article is to break down some of what’s happening in our country and what small parts we ALL can play in repairing where our Nation is at currently.
Before I start dissecting today’s divided America, let me preface once more that if you are going to come at me with the blame game and say it’s one side’s fault or the other’s entirely, let me ask you now to re-evaluate your thinking and hear me out before you jump to conclusions. If you are die hard committed to an ideology and you cannot see the humanity of the other side, you have work to do on yourself. Yea, yea, yea I know you may be thinking, “Who the heck is the former NSM leader to tell me I am being an extremist?” My point exactly! I know extremism because I lived it most of my adult life, so please, listen up and don’t cast stones from afar.
Both the left and the right have some great principles and both sides want or demand meaningful change across the board on many societal issues. This is a fact, and is easily understandable, it is also NOT extremism. All of us (Humanity) desire what we feel is best in life, liberty, and happiness. The problem comes in when many of us (human beings) quickly dismiss the other side, fail at dialogue, or willingness to even respectfully listen and disagree. Since the horrific death of George Floyd in 2020, the divisions in our nation grew and amplified. Double down on that with the COVID pandemic and new rules/regulations, which drove many people and businesses under, left many people to radicalize online and even more to struggle with mental health issues which are often exasperated by isolation. A maelstrom of hate, anger, and discontent followed.
We (Americans) almost all of us were horrified by what happened to George Floyd. The masses mobilized to call for Police reforms and condemnation for what happened to him. Rightfully so, when injustice strikes it is the duty of all citizens to speak up, and as Americans we have that right (thankfully)! The moment certain elements/individuals hijacked the righteous cause of seeking justice and started burning down random businesses, rioting, looting, and in some cases attacking and burning police stations or courthouses it set into motion much of what we are seeing today. Bear with me, I am not picking sides, as I am not on either side, but like many Americans in the middle hoping we can get back to the issues and also heal the divides.
During the chaos of 2020, we Americans witnessed massive threats and violence coming from elements of the far-right. Violence ranging from planned bombings to threats against politicians, including plots against state capitol buildings, many of which were thankfully stopped by the diligent work of the FBI, Police, or other law enforcement agencies. Had it not been for those agencies some of those plots may have come to fruition and mass casualty events could certainly have taken place. Many of you have heard me say that extremism is often symbiotic, the far-right versus far-left schisms go back a long way. Every action fuels a reaction. In 2020, we saw people from both extremist factions on the far-right and far-left killing each other and innocent people dying as well. It is shocking the death toll hasn’t been higher, once again thankfully. Many remember the night of August 23, 2020, when Kenosha, Wisconsin was burning, and CNN had a reporter standing in front of a city block that was burning out of control behind the reporter, the prompt across the screen read, “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests after police shooting.” I am not picking on that one media outlet because many did not show federal buildings and courthouses being attacked or flames and smoke billowing out into the night skies over Washington, DC and often didn’t cover how many lives of small business owners were utterly destroyed by random violence. Do I understand the rage and anger which lead people to do mass destruction, rioting, looting, and civil disobedience, of course I do. Do I empathize with the cause they claim to be fighting for (Justice for George Floyd)? You are damn right! I believe no person should ever lose their life in such a manner! It’s horrific and it’s important we as Americans remain engaged with our Government. Does that mean we should attack random businesses or lay siege to our police departments or government offices!? No, absolutely not! I know some feel justified in attacking the Government, which as a former extremist I understand the thought process of those people, but not one person has a true or rational argument for the mass scale looting, burning, and destruction of random businesses. That is except the most extreme who attempt to excuse it, and if you are one of those people shame on you. Countless innocent working class people lost everything in that misdirected rage. While this behavior raged on with prominent people excusing it, justifying it, or calling it peaceful and even some well known prosecutors letting violent criminals who threw Molotov cocktails at federal buildings or even directly at police, including cases where buildings were set on fire with police inside, were let go with no charges. The rule of law was ignored for political pandering, and many of the violent extremists let go were traveling the country doing the same thing in different cities. Many on the other side of the extremist spectrum, that being the far-right, saw this in a variety of ways. Some felt their long predicted civil or race war was coming, others plotted and launched attacks of their own, or went out to fight and confront their adversaries, clamoring about civil war and stoking the flames, the fear, and so on. The distrust for the media and so-called fake news went from being a marginalized group of people on the fringes believing in fake news to about half the country not trusting the media due to the lack of coverage of the mass destruction and calling cities burning mostly peaceful. As a former propagandist for the far-right, had I still been active I would have exploited the inconsistencies of those news stories so badly, I can only imagine the impact and flood of new recruits joining. I shudder to think of it, and am thankful to be able to see the errors of my own past.
I don’t want to rehash the difficulties and struggles our Nation went through in 2020, and continues to go through in 2021. I am referencing these instances as a preface to what lead up to the chaos and reprehensible behavior that took place on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC at the Capitol. There is no justifying what happened, and I utterly condemn what took place there. My hope is that perhaps our nations leaders, influencers, and public figures can learn to condemn wrong behavior no matter which side it comes from. I see Far-Right figures applauding what happened in DC, and yet they condemn the violent actions of the Far-Left, and the same could be said the other way around. I see people on the left who justified and even encouraged rioting and destruction, yet now the same people calling their adversaries on the far-right terrorists.
Guess what, both sides are responsible for this mess our nation is in today. I don’t want to leave this article undone by ending with negativity and finger pointing and not offering solutions. I assure you America, all is not lost, we can heal and come back from this.
We need to heal as a Nation, we can do that if we start seeing one another as human beings, friends, and neighbors once again. I gain nothing from saying these words, in fact I am sure the far-right will call me a Commie for condemning their behavior and the far-left may claim I am still a Nazi for saying things they don’t like. Clearly both Nazism and Communism are bad news and both cost millions of lives, so aligning with either of those ideologies is a bad choice. This one I know from lived experience. We can all do better by trying to get back to the table of civil disagreements, respective differences, and dialogue. The moment we stop hearing one another and dialogue ends, we can end up with reckless disregard for the lives of others, increased polarization, desperation, and potentially heading down a road we as a nation cannot come back from.
We must repair the divides in our Nation, and the leaders from both Parties must tackle these issues together and we as citizens can all do a little better by not adding fuel to flames. I keep my mouth shut mostly when it comes to politics, and due to shedding my past extremism I often see the good things in people on both the left and right, and both sides have some meaningful and important ideas. I may not like all of their points, but what I see is two large sections of America terribly divided. As someone who used to be one of those dividers, I feel it’s important that I dissected how both sides feel justified in their stances and how damaging that way of seeing things can be. There is hope, there is a road out of where we are at now as a nation. It must be fair and balanced, and it must be honest. Pandering to one side or the other with blind loyalty is what got us to where we are at today. It’s easy to place the blame on one person or another and certainly some are more culpable than others, but we all have personal responsibility and we can all do our small part to heal the nation.
For those who don’t like reading long pieces, the short version is condemn ALL acts of violence and destruction, treat your fellow human beings with love and respect, and do your own small part to help the nation heal. We can do this and once again show the world that America is not divided, but United in our mission as a world leader.
Comments on this article are welcome, but anyone who starts with the Left did this, or the Right did that rhetoric and acts like one is worse than the other, you didn’t read or listen to what I was saying and I won’t engage with picking sides, as I don’t wish to align with either. My goal is to save lives, and the course the nation is on is one of chaos and destruction. Please heed this message of peace, think deeply upon it, let it resonate, and perhaps we can all unite on the basis of betterment for all of humanity, regardless of Race, Religion, Skin color, political party, or other things that are less important than humanity as a whole.
With Love, Compassion, Empathy, and with all due respect to everyone no matter what you believe or don’t believe. Let this serve as message of healing.