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Fri Jan 18, 2019, 02:29 PM

This filmmaker spent months interviewing neo-Nazis and jihadists. Here's what she learned.

What’s the best way to fight racism and extremism?

The impulse to dismiss extremists as unreachable fanatics is strong and at times justifiable. But perhaps it’s not always the most effective means of combating them. Deeyah Khan, a journalist and filmmaker, has decided to engage them directly as human beings.

The results are stunning. At the beginning of White Right, for example, she says to Jared Taylor, a prominent white supremacist, “I am the daughter of immigrants. I am a Muslim. I am a feminist. I am a lefty liberal. And what I want to ask you is: Am I your enemy?” Taylor is an old hardliner and so he doesn’t buckle, but Khan’s interactions with other white supremacists go in surprising directions, and you learn quite a bit about who these people really are.

I spoke with Khan about her experience making these films, what she discovered about the nature of extremism, and how her thinking has evolved after sitting down face to face with her “enemies.”

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows...

[Snip]

"Much of it doesn’t come from hate. It comes from a lot of other basic human needs that are not being met. To be sure, there are political and social and economic factors involved on both sides, but if you dig deep, you find that it’s about much more than that."
https://www.vox.com/world/2019/1/14/18151799/extremism-white-supremacy-jihadism-deeyah-khan

Read the rest of the transcript at the link. This Muslim woman befriended neo-Nazis, and her interactions with them caused several to leave the movement.

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Reply This filmmaker spent months interviewing neo-Nazis and jihadists. Here's what she learned. (Original post)
ProudLib72 Jan 2019 OP
allgood33 Jan 2019 #1
ProudLib72 Jan 2019 #11
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #2
Caliman73 Jan 2019 #6
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #7
cynatnite Jan 2019 #8
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #10
cynatnite Jan 2019 #12
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #13
cynatnite Jan 2019 #14
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #17
cynatnite Jan 2019 #28
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #32
Caliman73 Jan 2019 #16
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #18
Caliman73 Jan 2019 #19
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #20
Caliman73 Jan 2019 #21
Downtown Hound Jan 2019 #33
tblue37 Jan 2019 #3
smirkymonkey Jan 2019 #4
ProudLib72 Jan 2019 #9
smirkymonkey Jan 2019 #15
90-percent Jan 2019 #5
Duppers Jan 2019 #23
mysteryowl Jan 2019 #22
Duppers Jan 2019 #24
BigmanPigman Jan 2019 #25
ProudLib72 Jan 2019 #34
Kurt V. Jan 2019 #26
SunSeeker Jan 2019 #27
Blue_true Jan 2019 #30
BigmanPigman Jan 2019 #35
GeoWilliam750 Jan 2019 #37
SunSeeker Jan 2019 #39
Blue_true Jan 2019 #29
IronLionZion Jan 2019 #31
keithbvadu2 Jan 2019 #36
GeoWilliam750 Jan 2019 #38

Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 02:36 PM

1. Great read.

 

i have to work on finding sympathy for either group.

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Response to allgood33 (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:52 PM

11. Yes, I do too

Which makes what this woman did all the more incredible. Think of how difficult it would be to maintain journalistic objectivity during an interview! Her life literally depended on her ability to project impartiality, yet she chose to go ahead and do the interviews.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 02:37 PM

2. Although I applaud her and think what she's saying has great merit

The problem I have with always trying to explain away the embrace of bigotry by saying "it's the result of needs not being met" is that it excuses the individual of their choice. I've had a lot of needs not met in my life by this economic system, and never once did I embrace fascism or bigotry as the answer. I'm all for the power of love over hate, of reconciliation and understanding as a method of healing, but at the end of the day, you always have a choice. Excusing their behavior as the result of being "left behind" makes it seem like they don't have a choice. They do. And they chose wrong.

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Response to Downtown Hound (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:29 PM

6. Discussing the factors that can lead people to extremism isn't excusing it.

It allows other people in similar situations or who know people in similar situations to reach out and as you say, make different choices. There are MANY people who face huge adversities and who do not choose to act in ways that are destructive to themselves or others. When you say that it is only about "choice" it is implying that the person is "weak" or "bad" intrinsically . In our lives when we face struggles perhaps there is something ultimately that helps us make the choice to avoid the escalation to extremism.

For me, it was easy to fall into joining a gang. They were everywhere. I knew them. I had needs that weren't being met, however I had at least one person who stepped in and helped me to realize that I would be going nowhere by joining. The decision not to join caused its own set of problems but again, there were resources that helped me to make the choice. I am not going to say that "I was strong enough to make the choice because I am strong." If that one person wasn't there, or hadn't stepped in. If there were a few more circumstances that made it make more sense to me to join, I may have done so. Ultimately it was my choice and my responsibility for the consequences of my choice, but when we just say "choice" that is about assigning blame. When you want to find out why people make one choice and not another, or whether two people with similar circumstances make different choices, you have to take into account the complexities of human interaction.

Studies show that when infants do not receive stimulation, skin to skin contact, and what we call nurturing, that it leave deep and sometimes permanent damage to the actual physical structures of their brain. There is damage that may never be able to be healed.

It is more than just "choice" and noting the factors that might lead to people making the destructive choice isn't an excuse it is an explanation and a warning to others in similar situations.

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Response to Caliman73 (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:37 PM

7. Sorry, but it IS weakness

Giving in to bigotry is both weak and bad. You yourself just proved what I was trying to say. You're dismissing any personal responsibility and implying it's all the result of "complexities of human interaction." I'm calling bullshit. Sorry, you're just not going to convince me that these people are Nazis and racists because they didn't get held enough when they were infants.

My father was an alcoholic Republican who listened to Rush Limbaugh and drank himself to death when I was 19 years old. He didn't hold me very much when I was a child and neither did my mother. I've had many other economic hardships as an adult due to the nature of our unequal and unjust system. I still never embraced racism or fascism.

When you imply that people have no other choice but to embrace hatred, you're actually insulting all the people that had similar trials and tribulations but CHOSE another path. And it is possible to CHOOSE another path.

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Response to Downtown Hound (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:44 PM

8. No, but a lot of them had it ingrained in them from that time...

Unfortunately, I've known some and they were taught this crap. They were taught that their lot in life is the fault of anyone who is not like them. It came from their parents and their religion. Not all Christianity is equal. Some churches are nothing but racism and hate in the guise of "God says..."

This hate becomes a part of their life experience starting in childhood. It's why it is so difficult to break that kind of programming.

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Response to cynatnite (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:49 PM

10. It might be difficult but it's not impossible

And it's still a choice. I could have chosen to follow in my father's footsteps and become a rage-a-holic Republican. I didn't. Other people can do the same. I held very different views when I was younger from the ones I do now. I chose to go out and learn and be a better person for the sake of the country and the world. Racism may begin with upbringing, it may be furthered by economic conditions, but at the end of the day, it is only continued by choice. Nothing will ever convince me otherwise of that, because I've seen too much of it in my life to convince me otherwise.

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Response to Downtown Hound (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:55 PM

12. It's not a choice for them like you think it is...

I grew up Baptist my entire life. I was hard core christian. I'm an atheist now and it took years to break myself of that kind of programming. It doesn't come undone overnight.

Keep in mind, not everyone is you. Not everyone thinks like you or me. For some, it's what they've known their entire lives and living outside of that is scary as hell. You're taught this and that about God, no matter how horrible it might be to us, but when it comes to trying to change your thinking, it's changing your entire person.

This is a long and difficult process. They have to find a way to turn their backs on everything they've ever known since childhood.

As a former Christian, I know how hard this is and no matter how much I hate the racism that comes from those types, I also know that breaking away from it is as hard of a thing than most could imagine.

To a degree it is choice, but trying to change that within yourself is easier said than done.

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Response to cynatnite (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:58 PM

13. Just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not a choice

Again, saying it's not a choice just because "it's hard to break free of it" is absolving them of any responsibility in the matter. So what if it's hard? Lots of things are hard, but we do them because it's right.

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Response to Downtown Hound (Reply #13)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:05 PM

14. It's not absolving them...

You make it sound like someone decided to go rob a bank.

That's not what this is at all. This is attempting to change thinking that has been ingrained since childhood from family that is loved and looked up to. From a religion that is the center of their being.

It's a psychological process that can take years.

No one is excusing them, but it's an acknowledged reason for why some people are racist. If how they became racist is not addressed, how will anyone know how to help them?

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Response to cynatnite (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:14 PM

17. By all means, try and help them

But in my experience, for every one you change, there are many more that will not be reached. So I'm less interested in helping them and more interested in opposing them. I don't need to understand understand them because I already do understand them and the weaknesses they have as human beings that allow them to become what they are. If you feel that your efforts will change a few of them, then by all means, go for it. Those of us that oppose them will be there to deal with the majority of them that you fail to reach.

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Response to Downtown Hound (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:27 PM

28. That's like saying, "why bother to help anyone"...

drug addicts, alcoholics, etc.

You're taking a nuanced and difficult problem and simplifying to black and white.

You're also willing to give up on people if they're not good enough in your eyes.

Thing is, I'm not telling you this because I go out of my way to help racists. I'm telling you this stuff because this used to be me. I wasn't raised KKK style of racism. It was the subtle racism I was brought up with. I grew up in a small white town where the brown people were called wetbacks. It was a hardcore religious right where church and bars were the centers of the universe.

We had all the hometown trappings of fishing, camping and bible thumping. There was lots of country music with God, the good ole USA and Hee Haw. On the face of it, it was old fashioned living with people who were the salt of the earth. But underneath was the subtle racism that was told in jokes, how you looked at outsiders and viewed the world. Through that lens, anyone who wasn't like you wasn't welcomed.

It changed for me when I joined the Army. That was the beginning of changing who I was and how I thought. It took a lot of hard lessons and a lot of internal judging of the kind of person I had thought I was. It was like having a bucket of ice-water poured over me and even after that, it still took a long time to get my thinking to change.

It's even worse when you come to realize that the good person you thought you were, didn't exist. I didn't murder, rob or go out of my way to hurt people. That's what I told myself and why this kind of racism is so pernicious and destructive. I went through a lot of pain myself when it hit me.

The people that we point to as racists don't see themselves that way. This isn't the KKK where they're burning crosses and lynching. They look at their own lives and see themselves as Christians who don't commit crimes, love their families and think that they're being good people.

Now, I'm not saying we should go out and have counseling sessions with these people. Not at all. What I am saying is that at the very least we should recognize that we're not going to change them by fighting them at every turn.

Changing a racist person can only happen in one way. From within.

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Response to cynatnite (Reply #28)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:49 PM

32. Um, no, you totally misunderstood what I was saying

I'm actually saying, go ahead and try and help them. Save the ones you can. Good on you for doing so. I'm just saying that I also know that there are way more that you're not going to save than you will. And we need opposition for them just as much as we need outreach. Even more so.

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Response to Downtown Hound (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:13 PM

16. So are you saying that people who join gangs or commit other crimes are weak?

Then you are adopting a Republican/Conservative idea. They should be locked up right? For holding up that liquor store or for using or dealing drugs. They are weak and need to be put in prison?

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Response to Caliman73 (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:20 PM

18. Apples to oranges

Did somebody join the Klan because they needed a quick cash fix? If you can show me evidence of this, please do. Oh but while we're on the subject, I do think people who violently rob a store at gun point should probably be locked up. Although I am willing to try things such as rehabilitation and treatment in lieu of just total incarceration, I don't think you should just let such people have free reign. Drugs are a little different in that the so-called "victim" is in fact, a willing participant, and gangs at least provide some protection and chance for economic opportunity where there is otherwise little. I remain unconvinced that the same can be said of the Klan or Neo-Nazis.

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Response to Downtown Hound (Reply #18)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:23 PM

19. No. They join because they are desperate, isolated, and feel their options are limited.

The same factors are at play. People make very bad choices when they feel they have few options.


You are conflating the explanation of factors that lead to people making poor choices with condoning or excusing those choices.

Do people join gangs because they need quick cash?

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Response to Caliman73 (Reply #19)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:28 PM

20. Bullshit. The same factors ARE NOT IN PLAY.

People do not join gangs for the sole purpose of they hate other races. That may or may not be a part of the gang they join, but it is not their sole reason for joining. The Crips were not formed to oppress white people. The Klan was formed with the sole purpose of oppressing black people. That is a distinct difference, and it matters.

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Response to Downtown Hound (Reply #20)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:40 PM

21. At a human level they are. Your anger seems to be blinding you.

People join gangs because they are scared, isolated, desperate for attention, and many other reasons. They want to feel strong.

The KKK is a gang. It is a gang based on "White" identity and false belief in the superiority of "Whites" because of the way that society has been designed to benefit White people. KKK members were scared after the Civil War. They were scared of losing the societal status of superiority after having been treasonous and defeated, they were afraid that what had been done to Black Americans would be done to them now that they lost. Fear was a huge part of the motivation they formed to "save our heritage".

The author isn't talking about the goals or purpose of the organization. She is talking about finding out what motivates people to join extremist movements. She dealt with both White Supremacists and with Jihadists.

You are right. There is a distinction about organizations and that distinction matters, but at a human level, when you are trying to figure out why people are making choices and how to reach them and diminish the grip of groups like the KKK then you have to accept that there are very flawed people making choices based on what they think are their options. You have to present them with different options.

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Response to Caliman73 (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:51 PM

33. You really think that everybody who becomes a racist does so because they're scared and need

some sense of belonging? What you are saying is no different than the people who try and excuse people voting for Trump because of "economic anxiety." It's a bullshit excuse.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 02:38 PM

3. K&R for visibility. nt

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:20 PM

4. K&R

She is a very brave woman. I admire her courage and her attitude. It takes a strong person to open their heart and mind to hear people like this. I am glad that she gained some insight and shared it with us.

They aren't all lost causes, but many of them are. They are just too addicted to hate and many of them are probably mentally ill. I am glad she was not harmed during her experience.

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Response to smirkymonkey (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:48 PM

9. I like to think that her approach offers some hope for society

It's one thing to wait until they have a rally before confronting them en masse. It's quite another to meet one-on-one with them in a quiet setting. On the other hand, just how many of us would be willing to attempt what she did? The other factor is that she is a journalist, which gives her credibility and status. Heck, you know that some of the people she interviewed must have been thinking that getting their personal story out there would make them famous or generate sympathy for their cause. On top of that, she didn't have an ulterior motive. She wasn't trying to change their minds. That happened organically and was through self discovery prompted by her questions.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:12 PM

15. Oh, I agree. I did think it was hopeful. I think my post might have come off the wrong way.

And I think her approach was very brave and insightful. You can't learn about the other unless you really try to sit down with them and try to understand where they are coming from. But she did mention in the article that there were some of them that were still violent and hateful and probably weren't open to change. I think it's great what she did and I really enjoyed reading about her experience.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 03:25 PM

5. decades of agenda driven corporate propaganda

literally programs people to get them to adhere to lies. Earmarks of a totalitarian society. Speaks to the agenda of our educational system. Some people should be forced to read Animal Farm and 1984 so they have some understanding of how "the establishment" plays them.

Rich people been paying for it for decades and that implies they feel they are getting a good return for their propaganda investments.

Hopefully the impending treason prosecutions for most of republic leadership will force a complete realignment of all the things we threw away that did indeed make America somewhat great. We still have what it takes to steer back towards our higher ideals and the Founding Fathers visions of the potential of our Great American Experiment.

I like hyperbole, but I don't think its hyperbolic to compare these times with the great shocks of our history; All wars from our inception, the Great Depression, Watergate, etc.

-90% Jimmy

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Response to 90-percent (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:55 PM

23. ☝

Great post.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 04:55 PM

22. VOX does some great reporting.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:01 PM

24. K & R

Excellent article. Thank you for posting this, LP72.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:03 PM

25. I read an article about the psychology of hate groups and tRump's base.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/a-psychological-analysis-of-trump-supporters-has-uncovered-5-key-traits-about-them/

A lot of them have the same traits as the neo Nazis. I also saw a film on CNN about the murderer who killed Heather Hire in Charlottesville and her mother actually hugged the guy after they sat down and had a talk. I could never have done that!

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Response to BigmanPigman (Reply #25)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 06:40 PM

34. They are both ideologically based hate groups, so it's no surprise

And I think most on DU have agreed that there is a connection. Can you imagine if we actually had a self proclaimed neo Nazi in the WH? Rump is certainly racist as hell, but he isn't (that we know of) a member of a race based hate group. Now, in saying that, I realize that we can certainly claim being a deplorable automatically means one must hate POC. But there is a disconnect in his base's mind. He is the president, and the president certainly couldn't espouse "hate" based on race. Instead, he is able to play on their fears without openly stating their racist underpinnings. It's a fine line, but I think a lot of his base are fine with ignoring the subtext of his words.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:08 PM

26. K&R

It's similar to Daryl Davis, a blues musician by trade, who convinced over 200 men to quit the KKK, by getting to know them.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:10 PM

27. Summary: it's mostly men, and they're doing it to feel important. Oy.

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #27)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:36 PM

30. Feeling wanted and important and being listened to is a powerful human urge.

Some people that become extremist lived an earlier life where they were wallflowers, easily dismissed, being intimidating and threatening people and finally having people notice them can be/is very fulfilling. Think of how you feel in a meeting or a family gathering, you're spinning out ideas, but you get ignored. Some people allow the frustrations that life can present turn them into paranoid, dangerous freaks.

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #27)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 09:48 PM

35. Testosterone is definitely part of the mix.

Look at the gun issues too...mostly men. Even a gnat can see the connection. Can't they handle their hormones and live with civilized societies or should we put saltpeter (it worked on sailors during many months at sea they say) in all countries' water systems around the world? Who knows, it could put a dent in violence by men which is a good thing for everyone.

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Response to SunSeeker (Reply #27)

Sat Jan 19, 2019, 02:40 AM

37. Basic Dale Carnegie

Across the many millennia of human history, to be unimportant has often been an immediate precursor to being dead.

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Response to GeoWilliam750 (Reply #37)

Sat Jan 19, 2019, 02:51 AM

39. Whatever happened to "the meek shall inherit the earth"?

I kinda like being unimportant. No one bothers me, just my friends and family, LOL.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:28 PM

29. After reading that, I sort of want to go have a conversation with a MAGAT.



Actually, I have met and talked to a few MAGATS, some were/are decent people, some were assholes that I could not stand. I even had common interests with a few of them.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 05:40 PM

31. "Basic needs not being met" makes it easier to recruit people into any extremist ideology

doesn't matter the ideology. Frustrated angry people will often look for someone to blame for their problems. And blaming their neighbors is easier for some people than to blame the politicians or CEOs or whoever. And of course it's easier than taking constructive action to improve one's life. They will often say the system is rigged against them as an excuse.

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2019, 10:09 PM

36. KKK Conservative boasting: "We killed six million Jews the last time," he answered. "Eleven millio

KKK Conservative boasting:

“We killed six million Jews the last time,” he answered. “Eleven million is nothing.”

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article167939222.html

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Response to ProudLib72 (Original post)

Sat Jan 19, 2019, 02:40 AM

38. Excellent piece

Thank you for the link.

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