Where does hate stem from? How does a human being become another aggressive force behind a radical movement that vituperates everyone who isn’t the same color, and who doesn’t share the same ideologies that they hold dearly? For those embroiled in hate groups that gorge on false teachings, their involvement prompts the question of their humanity and the possibility of redemption. If there is an opportunity for it. For members seeking an escape, Life After Hate is an organization founded by former skinheads and neo-Nazis, for skinheads and neo-Nazis looking for a way out of their abhor-fueled life. And that’s exactly what Peter D. Hutchison’s newest documentary, Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation explores. As a viewer, you watch the Life After Hate organization help scathed souls whose lives have been steered by futile violence and unbounded anger, and who yearn to go down the path of love and recovery.
As Peter Hutchison’s documentary suggests, most members of hate groups join the movement because they feel like their anger has been “dispossessed,” their masculinity has been stolen, but more often than not, this sense of displacement is kindled by abuse, abandonment or a broken home. Early on, one former neo-Nazi shines a light on what he felt like when partaking in this barbarous group: “Being part of that movement, I got to feel a sense of power when I felt powerless. I got attention when I felt invisible. And accepted when I felt unlovable.” Former members continue to discuss their experiences with brutal honesty, expounding their abusive childhoods and their kernels of anguish.
“…the Life After Hate organization, who dedicate their time and resources for those who want to unmask the strength of love and healing…”
We hear words from Frank Meeink (co-founder of Life After Hate), who joined the movement in ’88, kidnapped somebody and did prison time. Jason Downard (former neo-Nazi in Life After Hate recovery program), who is more than happy to leave that barbaric life behind, and he joyously felt a sense of relief by being able to cover up the tattoo on his leg that symbolized murder. And Chuck Leek (former White Supremacist) elucidated how he had been with a skinhead pack for 13 or 14 years. The question remains, can love be unearthed in a life pervaded with so much hate and bile?
Since most of these subjects suffered in silence when they were eventually approached by these hate groups, they would inveigle the troubled souls by promising them a taste of dominance over others — after all, a big man always attempts to control and hate others when they can’t love themselves. Sociologist and best-selling author Michael Kimmel (the writer of Healing From Hate and Angry White Men) explains how these unsettled individuals are trying to take back what they once had, and commonly, this traces back to the predetermined roles of a man. So when these hate groups vow to supply a channel for them to unleash their spleen and power against those who the group sees fit, the perturbed subjects are tempted to join because they believe they’re taking back what they lost — whether that be masculinity, security or control.