Jeff Schoep was once described as ‘the most famous nazi in America’. From 1994-2019, he was the director of the National Socialist Movement, which – as names go – was one up from its forerunner organisation, the American Nazi Party (imagine a far-left organisation calling itself the ‘Commie Party of America’…). Schoep was a dedicated white supremacist for twenty-seven years.
Our writer Gareth Postans first became aware of Jeff in Deeyah Khan’s documentary ‘White Right: Meeting The Enemy‘. He saw a man who didn’t look completely convinced and came across as lost, but intelligent. It was his friendship with Khan that made him question his beliefs.
Jeff now runs Beyond Barriers, which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to a world devoid of ‘extremism’. Gareth asked him some questions via email, and he kindly replied very promptly. And because I have my issues with the catch-all term ‘extremism’ (which is why I’ve wrapped it in the most disdainful quote marks I could find), I sent him two follow-up questions to boot. Enjoy!
Gareth: First of all, who are you?
Jeff: Jeff Schoep is known to many as if he were several different people: a native Minnesotan from a stable, caring family, a business owner, the former National Leader of the largest neo-nazi organization in America, and a man who sat down with two victims of hate groups and racism, both assaulted and injured in childhood – and walked away from extremism forever, as a result. Indisputably, in 2021, extremism is the #1 issue in the US (and in many other countries). Articles, reports and studies on extremism and terrorism have been churned out in mainstream media and academic publications since 9/11, with few to no discernible outcomes or progress. Reasons? Extremist leaders don’t talk – except when they are promoting propaganda, giving ultimatums or taking credit for attacks. It is incredibly rare for an extremist leader to exit and be willing to take up the task of counter-extremism, much less a leader of 25 years. In short, there is no such leader available to tell the public what is actually going on in these groups, how they are founded, structured and maintained, and how they disintegrate – except for Jeff Schoep.
There have been notable and highly respected former jihadists or inspirational speakers who were involved directly or deeply with extremist or terrorist groups. They are backed by law enforcement, or the lucky academic researcher whose emails they answered, and endorsed on stages world-wide, but were not the main actors responsible for the totality of damage their respective groups have done. Most were the crew, initiates, foot-soldiers, or lone wolf actors, but because they are more accessible, the narratives they carry are all that the public ever hears.
Jeff Schoep changes that. His lived experience challenges long-standing assumptions in research and in public opinion. He was an enigma. Federal agencies were baffled by him. After leaving the National Socialist Movement in 2019, he publicly denounced his former ideology and went through the gruelling process of recovering his humanity, his compassion and himself. His message, insights and warnings about misjudging or ignoring extremism are vital, and he is one of the only former leaders willing to deliver them.
Jeff Schoep transitioned from mastering propaganda that promoted hatred and fear to total dedication to the truth. He knows that only those who were leading and those who were at the core of these groups know the truth – the reality behind all the speculation on why people join, why they stay and why they leave. To combat alarming escalations in extremism globally, we need truth. Jeff Schoep emerges into the public eye not as a sensationalized celebrity, not as a re-radicalized “convert,” not as a “story,” but as someone who can expose the inner workings of notorious extremist groups and reveal what it’s like to be in, what it’s like to be out, and what it’s like to help formers reclaim empathy and open-mindedness by coming to terms with their own personal truths.
Currently, his organization, Beyond Barriers USA, is conducting in-house research and launching a unique intervention program that is the subject of a two-year study in counter-extremism. Beyond Barriers USA is the first of its kind to be directed and managed exclusively by former extremists and militant activists from diverse cultures, countries, social status and eras. Now a counter-extremism trainer, advisor, and presenter, Jeff Schoep tirelessly holds talks, lectures and workshops from his unique vantage point. He once was infamous – today, he is deadly serious about combating extremism. “For every former I help exit, there are potentially thousands of people who won’t become their victims.” – Jeff Schoep
When did your interest start in fascism? Was it skinhead first and nazi later or vice versa? Did you believe the two were intertwined?
Regrettably, my past interest in nazism started at a very young age, elementary school age to be exact. While I knew very little to nothing of the ideology at that age, the historical, military, & family connection is where the initial fascination with that time period began. My grandfather fought in the German Army during World War 2, as did my great uncles (grandmothers brothers). One of my uncles was permanently disfigured by burns when his tank was blow up by the allied forces in the Ardennes offensive, the other uncle was an officer captured by the Soviets in Stalingrad, my grandfather was captured by American forces. Grandmother’s family was from Prussia, which ceased to exit after WW2 and her family ended up as refugees when all the Germans in Prussia were forcibly removed from their land & homes and Prussia was given to Poland. My grandparents and mother eventually moved to America to pursue the American dream.
With that family history being shared, I am sure people probably suspect my family encouraged or supported my pathway into nazis – wrong! My mother especially was absolutely devastated by her son’s involvement in nazism. My involvement in the NSM caused our entire family great hardship, and sadness, but it was particularly devastating for my mother who lost the most due to my involvement. As a child I had always looked up to my grandfather, he was a strong, authoritative, alpha male type of individual. He was career military, having fought with the Germans as a young man, later after moving to the US he joined the US Army, and towards the end of his military career he fought in Vietnam on the US side. He was larger than life to me as a kid; here was a man who fought in two wars, in two different armies. I was very close to my grandmother as well, and enjoyed every moment of time spent with them until they passed away just a few years ago. They knew what I was involved in and tried to discourage me from it, but I didn’t listen. Long answer, but it may make more sense as to why an American kid would be drawn to nazism. So to answer the question, for me it was always nazism first, and the skinhead aspect came later around age 19 or 20 approximately. Yes, I believed the two were intertwined, but saw the skinhead aspect as a subculture. National Socialism or nazism came first, the skinhead aspect was always second.
Initially, were you aware of anti-racist skinheads? New York and Chicago had huge anti-racist skinhead scenes. Any particular cities or states where there was a huge turn out from these groups?
Initially when I first heard of skinheads as a teenager I assumed all were nazis, later on around age 20 I learned there were other types of skinheads from non-political, trads, and even SHARPS or Baldies. Being from Minnesota, the first anti-racist skins I encountered were called Baldies & then later SHARPs. I remember a number of confrontations with them in Minneapolis, and in other cities around the country. They were quite active in opposing racism. I recall seeing groups of SHARPS in California, Minnesota, Chicago, Denver, and more in the northern states, but not really down in the southern states.
I saw an old interview once where you said you listened to hatecore and RAC…do you feel these genres backed up your beliefs at the time or did you just like the ferocity of these genres? Can you still stand to listen to this stuff today?
Those music genres certainly did back up those beliefs for me back then. To be fair some of the bands have very talented musicians, and others are so unskilled, it’s baffling how anyone can listen at all. Music is a powerful tool which is useful for any skilled propagandist. Extremists use the music to reinforce & strengthen the beliefs of the adherents, and it’s very effective. Think of it like this… A radical may get propagandised at a meeting, rally, and in their social circles, all of which are common routes to radicalisation. A music CD, MP3, or favourite song may get played over and over and over. The messages in the music are literally seared into the minds of those who listen to it. Personally, no I don’t listen to RAC or hatecore anymore. I spend countless hours helping others to leave that life, and spend a lot of time educating people on racism and how destructive it is. I enjoy music a lot, it’s a big part my life, but it’s all non-political these days.
One of the funniest stories I remember was that the bloke (Anthony Pierpont) who used to run Panzerfaust records was a latino and no one realised it until it was too late! Did you have any correspondence at this time with him? Were you involved with any of the bands?
I remember when that all went down. To be honest, I don’t really name drop. I knew pretty much everyone in the US far right, including the bands, having been involved for 27 years total. Anthony was not the only person the far right movement turned on; it was and is a common tactic in those circles to have a lot of infighting. Sometimes it could be trivial nonsense that caused infighting, other times it could be more serious. Anything from everyone suspecting one another of being undercover informants (often there was, but many other people accused of such things were not) or people accusing each other of being not totally white, or arguments over religion or who’s group was more serious. It’s a very toxic environment. The racism and divisions are bad enough as it is, but then add the paranoia, petty jealousy issues, and you have the toxic environment which is the extreme right.
‘Once a nazi, always a nazi’ seems to be such a damning phrase and suggests there’s no chance of changing your mind. What methods do you think would have helped you out of the movement earlier?
Great question, so glad you asked this one. Perhaps I am a bit biased on this particular question considering as a former nazi, I have turned my life around and now help others to do the same. Of course I believe that it’s a horrible way to view the world, the belief that people can’t change. The belief that people can’t change, it’s just as narrow minded as nazis who don’t see the humanity in others. If we look at human psychology, and growth, people are constantly changing and evolving. We all know people who seemingly never change as well, and those who don’t grow as people and expand their horizons in life, well we all know people who stay stuck and most of the time they are quite miserable and negative, not always, but more often than not. When anyone believes they know everything and are not open to new ideas or growth, they tend to live sad and a sometimes meaningless existence (in my opinion). We (all of humanity) should always be open to getting outside of our comfort zones and be open to new experiences and ways of looking at life. It’s difficult to say what would have helped me to leave the movement earlier. Loved ones and family tried to reach me, and I wouldn’t move off that barricade. Their efforts were not in vain though, looking back they planted seeds along with so many others, but I was not ready to hear them at the time, unfortunately.
What we do know from lived experience, our cases at Beyond Barriers, and also our in-house academic research and studies of our efforts in deradicalization and disengagement is that change doesn’t always happen instantly, for some it does, but not most. It takes time to break away from long held and deeply ingrained belief systems. Like reconditioning a former cult member, not joking either it’s like deprogramming a cult member. When I was a nazi, every time someone attacked me with violence, attempts at intimidation, threats, doxxing, or similar tactics I doubled down on my efforts, it actually motivated me to fight harder and inspired me to do even more. The same effect of becoming more dedicated or more extreme is how most people react. This is important to note and understand: People very rarely leave hate or extremist groups because someone doxxed them, got them fired from a job or cancelled, or punched them. In fact those tactics usually have the opposite effect. Yes I know there are some people who leave after getting doxxed, fired, cancelled, or beat up. Of all the formers I know, and hundreds upon hundreds who have left over the years I can think of about 5 or 6 people, yes 5 or 6 maybe a couple more, but generally speaking I can count on one hand the people who left due to heavy handed tactics. Some of them I knew personally and out of those people not one was an ideologue or hardcore member, they were never committed in the first place, and their system of beliefs was never ideological, but more of a phase. They are out which is awesome, but my point is they are a tiny percentage of people who leave, and if a punch in the mouth or being doxxed sent them scurrying for change is that the kind of change we see as a victory? These same individuals were never committed in the first place and would have probably left when the next fad or phase popped up. If that is our litmus test for a victory at getting people out, we have lost before we even started.
How people change is through education, understanding, dialogue, compassion, empathy, listening, reciprocal conversations, hearing and being heard. Seeing the humanity in others, especially from the so-called other side or perceived enemies is priceless and life altering. Sitting down with Daryl Davis & Deeyah Khan and them treating me like a human being, yet still challenging my opinions and views in a humanistic manner, that was life altering. We replicate that process in our efforts, and it works. It doesn’t work on every single person, and it can take time too, but it is effective and we have seen people change constantly. I was in 27 years, there is another person we worked with that was in the movement since the 1980s, I knew this individual since we were in the same Organization, and they spent even more years than I did and changed their life. I realize what I am saying may not be cool, or popular, and will probably piss a few people off, and that’s ok. I don’t speak out and do the work I do to make friends, and no one can make me say or do anything. I speak from the heart, and it’s the truth.
As we now see, the alt-right seems to be much more ‘smart suits and smart haircuts’. Do you think it’s because they’ve given up trying to ‘own’ the skinhead movement or is it purely ‘move with the times and appear more respectable’ type tactics?
The alt-right most certainly turned away from the skinhead movement and most of them would call it cringe or bad optics. While there are still hard right groups with skinheads, at least here in America the skinhead scene seems to have shrunken significantly in recent years. Appearing more mainstream is the goal, it’s tactical for sure.
One of your pals is Daryl Davis, who actually speaks to white nationalists as humans. This has resulted in a lot of people leaving the movement. Do you think this is more effective than ‘busting heads?’
Yes, Daryl Davis is an incredible human being, a dear friend, and one of our team members at Beyond Barriers. Daryl has personally helped over 200 people leave extremist groups. His approach is similar and in line with our approach at Beyond Barriers. We learned from the best. While busting heads may give the head buster a small bit of instant gratification, it almost never works at changing hearts and minds. In fact from my past lived experience, every time I was attacked or threatened it made me fight harder for the cause I believed in. Nearly everyone I knew was the same way. When there were violent clashes, they always reinforced our beliefs.
What music do you listen to these days? What are your thoughts on Oi, ska and the skinhead movement these days? Do you see yourself as a ‘skinhead’ these days?
I enjoy almost all types of music. It’s easier to pick which music I don’t care for, which would be opera and black metal, almost everything else is in the playlists here. No, I don’t see myself as a Skinhead these days. I still cut my hair short, but not for political reasons.
Why do so many nazis go for that awful dressed in black type goth look?
Ha ha. Hey now, Johnny Cash was also called the man in black since he always wore black. Perhaps some wear black to emulate the German SS, but I think overall it’s more by chance. The far left here in America also often wear black (they call it black bloc). The irony of both the far right and far left all wearing black and clashing is well… ironic. Two sides ideologically opposed to one another, but wearing similar clothes. As you and certainly the readers are aware that’s a long running arguments for skinheads of every political leaning. The nazi skins accuse the SHARPS of copying their look, and the SHARPS say the nazis copy their look, and the trads are like no both sides are copying our look. The old age argument about it skinheads started in England or Jamaica is one I remember hearing between people.
One of your ways out of the movement was meeting your friend Deeyah Khan and understanding she was just a ‘normal person’. What did you think Muslims were like when you were in the movement?
The answer on this one will probably surprise or shock people. Becoming friends with Deeyah was a life altering experience for me. She showed me her humanity and it cracked my armour, and broke through more barriers than I ever imagined possible. In good conscience, I could not continue being part of a movement that divided people based on race. Meeting people like Deeyah and Daryl changed my life. Their kindness and compassion is something I didn’t deserve back then, but they willing gave it anyways, and it knocked sense into me like nothing else and changed me forever. I am just one person they helped, there are countless others too, and we do our best to emulate their methods because they work. Regarding Deeyah being a Muslim though, this is where people may be shocked. The organization I was part of when I was in the movement did not have an issue with Muslims. There were some in the organization that had a real issue with that stance, but the group wasn’t a democracy so if you didn’t like it you could leave. There were actually a few members of the organization who were of different faiths one would not expect in an American nazi group. A couple of Muslims, Buddhists, & other faiths the group accepted.
The only official faith banned by the group was Judaism. I know it sounds strange, but that’s how it was. The Org had strict rules regarding religious tolerance of most faiths due to movement infighting; the policy was designed to get around that problem. Even when I was a nazi the Muslim faith was not something that bothered me. I was a rabid antisemite though back then, and now some of my closest friends are Jewish. Again, friends I never deserved to have but such amazing, wonderful people. To clarify though, Muslims are not accepted by most of the far right extremist groups. My own personal justification for being accepting of the Muslim faith when I was a nazi goes back to historical connections. Hitler allied with the Grand Mufti of Palestine, and there was also a Muslim division of the Waffen SS called the Handschar division. The Handschar division was Bosnian volunteers also had Croatians, and volunteers from various Muslim nations around the world.
Going back to music, as a kid were you into punk and then flipped to the other side or how did you get into all the RAC stuff etc.?
As a kid growing up I listened to mainly heavy metal. Just one friend was into punk so I knew of a few of the punk bands, but wasn’t that into it. It wasn’t until joining the movement itself did I find out there was even such a thing as RAC.
Did you notice a lot of people flipping from extreme right to left and vice versa? Why do you think this is the case? [My guess would be it’s because moderate politics aren’t worth bothering with – Editor]
There certainly is some flipping of people from far left to far right and vice versa. I would not say in my experience it’s large numbers but there was and is some of that going on. In my experience both from when I was in the movement and with the work I do now in deradicalization and disengagement, the people who flip from one extreme to the other are often (but not always) just lost individuals, people looking for something meaningful to be a part of. Most of them are not ideologues, but are just sort of lost souls. Some folks have a propensity for wanting to be involved in fringe groups or cults as well. There are several people who I knew who fit that profile quite well. Obviously we all have personal choices to make in life, but in our process at Beyond Barriers we don’t encourage people to go from one extreme to the other. We encourage them to embrace their humanity and that of all people. Taking a person who was on one extreme and flipping them to the other isn’t helpful to their healing process and can be quite dangerous for them and more importantly for society as a whole.
How much backlash did you receive from the WP community on announcing you’d quit? I’m presuming there was a lot of hate and scepticism from both sides?
Upon leaving the movement, I penned a retirement letter to the organization & public. At that time I knew that I would later be speaking out against racism, but wasn’t ready immediately to do so. There was a lot to process mentally. Imagine leading a movement for 25 years and then changing your life around. It’s a lot to process. I called that period of reflection, learning, and healing the de-compression period. Everyone who disengages or deradicalizes from extremist thinking or groups goes through that process. There is no set time frame for how long it takes; all of us have a lifetime of healing and learning ahead of us. For me, those first few months were one of the most difficult times in my life. After I began speaking out against racism, yes there was a barrage of threats, and they still come in. Nowadays the threats still come in, but they are fewer than a couple years back. Part of that I believe is due to my outreach and messaging. I speak against hate, racism, and promote equality, but one thing I don’t do is speak poorly about the people who are involved. Let me clarify that statement. I find their beliefs ugly and reprehensible, but I don’t demonize the human beings behind the belief system. When we do that to people, we rob them of their humanity, just as they have done to those they dehumanize. You don’t defeat hate with hate, but conquer it with love, & compassion.
The people who are in those groups do hear what formers are saying, so it’s incredibly important in my opinion to utilize a humanistic approach. At least I do personally, and that’s why so many people reach out to talk, and it makes a difference. We as human beings make mistakes, all of us do. If we give people an opportunity to change and not condemn them forever, we can witness growth. Of course there are always exceptions, and some people will never change, but many will so it’s worth trying. I have plenty of critics, always have and always will. Some of the sceptics don’t like that I didn’t flip to the extreme far left, and of course the extreme far right views anyone who speaks out against their ideology is a traitor. I refuse to be a puppet for either side, and a lot of people can’t stand that. I have been through a lot since leaving the movement, it would take a book to explain some of hardship, but it was the right thing to do, and I am on the side of peace, love, and humanity now and will remain here! Happy to let the critics eat crow, will continue to ignore them and just do positive things to help others.
What are your thoughts on George Burdi? A guy who left to become a ‘multiculturalist’ then seemingly he’s trying to get back into being approved in WP circles, despite the fact he has an Indian wife?
I don’t know the man personally, but of course I know his story. From the outside looking in, it’s a very unwise course for him to attempt a return to that life. In many of those groups he will be forever branded a race traitor. He certainly is aware of that, so I can’t imagine how he intends to get around that.
How is life treating you nowadays?
Life is wonderful nowadays! Going from a life of being at war with the world every day, to being a positive example of change, it feels good to be doing something meaningful and positive. I’m truly thankful to be able to turn such a negative past into something positive. Despite the challenges, I can say wholeheartedly to anyone feeling stuck at where they are at in life, if someone like Jeff Schoep can change, you can too. My past is embarrassing now, but I don’t mind talking about it and utilizing it to inspire others to change their lives around too. If there are any positives to be found in such a negative past, it’s to use it as an example that there is hope for change and healing from the depths of extremism. Change is possible!
I know you now do lots of talks and discussion groups. Do you ever try and reach people via Stormfront or does anyone from there come to you?
There are people from Stormfront and many other WN affiliated groups & individuals who reach out all the time. Anyone who reaches out to us to talk is welcome to. We at Beyond Barriers are bound by NDA (non-disclosure agreements) and everything is held in strict confidentiality, within legal parameters of course.
How do you see extremism and the methods of preventing it evolving in the future?
Extremism is a major problem globally right now and growing. Prevention is key. Our humanistic approach is working, and we continue to amplify our methods on a global scale. Education is key as well. Much of extremist thought patterns and systems of belief are fear based, and that fear is amplified by extremist groups. Fear is bred in echo chambers fuelled by misconceptions and often false pretences. To be fair, fear can also be amplified by grievances, real or perceived. If we educate the youth, not by splitting them up by race or religions but by uniting over commonalities and learning about that which we fear or misunderstand, change and lasting change is inevitable.
Do you think skinhead will ever shake off the ‘nazi brush’ or in some way, is that part of the appeal? Proving people wrong and educating people?
Proving people wrong and educating them will certainly be helpful, but it will take time, patience, and perseverance. It’s a long road, but nothing is impossible.
Finally, what’s next for you and what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
What next, well I am engaged in countless projects with Beyond Barriers. We just released some animated counter-messaging videos with our friends at Average Mohamed, some film appearances are coming out, but mainly what’s next is whatever I can do to make a lasting difference. The best piece of advice, with so many incredible people who I have learned from it’s almost impossible to choose just one. That being said, I will go way back to my late grandfather Schoep. A piece of advice he gave to my father and us grandchildren. There is no such thing as the word can’t in this household! Meaning, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish something. You can do whatever you put your mind to!
Matt Crombieboy: Hi Jeff, I’d like to add two extra questions. When I google Jeff Schoep, the very first entry I find is a 2020 Southern Poverty Law Centre article that quotes NSM members as saying, years ago, that “Jeff Schoep is in this just for the money and he really doesn’t give a damn about the white race”. Your ex-wife Joanna is also quoted as saying that your involvement in neo-nazism was “to boost [your] ego, gain a Jim Jones type following and make some money”. What can you say on this?
It would be purely speculative for me to guess why the SPLC feels the need to post & put their own spin on Movement gossip. At the time of the article you mentioned I was still the leader of the NSM, and had just gone through a divorce. Typically divorce isn’t a pleasant experience, & neither was mine. The SPLC was certainly no fan of mine, and neither would be a couple of ex-members who were expelled from the group. It’s pretty typical for people to cast aspersions upon others in such a way. Let’s keep in mind those accusations are from well over a decade ago.
As far as not being a true believer, I wish that was true, as it would not have been such a mental battle to change my life around and the heavy realisation of all the years wasted doing something that was not good for humanity, but divisive and hateful instead. There was no money in the NSM, so anyone getting involved in that for money would be a damn fool. I spent over 25 years in the organization, and remember in the early days scraping up change to go get leaflets copied for distribution, so a money maker it certainly was not. As far as building a cult following, or wanting to be a leader to fuel my ego. I was appointed to the run the organisation at a very young age, it was never something I wanted or strived for. I begrudgingly accepted the position, and poured my life, energy, and passion into it. It’s not something I am proud of now, and the work I do now in countering that ideology speaks for itself. The cult-like environment in the movement is something I never recognized until after leaving that life. Countless women I dated compared the movement to a cult, so hearing that accusation was fairly common, but I didn’t believe that or even see it until after leaving and going through the deradicalization process. To a radicalised individual entrenched in their thinking, telling them they are in a cult is laughed off and not even considered a possibility. Reflecting back on those days, it’s hard to imagine not realizing the things I know and see now.
A psychological breakdown of the extremist mindset is something we work with now in helping others to change their lives, explaining how that works in a few paragraphs would not do it justice. Certainly in extremist groups there is people who get involved for ego boosting or to attempt to make a few bucks, but those types don’t typically invest a lifetime into it, and quickly find it to be discouraging. These groups are not as cohesive or aligned with each other as people often think. It is often very dangerous, as the government is considered the enemy, other races, some religions, and anyone who they deem a traitor which is most of the people who don’t align with them. Furthermore, the groups often fight with each other. Some of the most horrendous violence I have experienced or witnessed came from fighting with other movement groups or people who were purged from the groups. When I say that being in the movement is like being at war with the world, that sums it up. Anyone stupid enough to try and use these groups for money making or ego boosting could do better choosing any other outlet rather than extremism. Most extremists are not self-motivated, and that included myself. Willingness to sacrifice for the cause was everything, ones personal wellbeing was a side issue, not as important as the cause.
Matt: The reason I’m gonna ask the second question is because, frankly, it rubs me the wrong way how a lot of ex-nazis use the term ‘extremist’, tarring all non-mainstream/non-conformist viewpoints with the same brush. Anti-capitalists, ‘reds’, trade union militants etc are also labelled ‘extremist’. Now, you can disagree with their views or argue with some of the historical experience – but I don’t accept that being a ‘red’ is on the same plane as going round terrorising people for the colour of their skin. Wouldn’t it be more apt to simply speak of neo-nazism or racism instead of using that ideological buzzword ‘extremism’ for all kinds of different things?
Good question! Racism is really the biggest issue we are tackling. The word extremism is thrown around a lot these days in the mainstream. Just turn on the news, and both sides of the political spectrum are accusing each other of being extremists. Mainstream politics even. Here in the US, countless people will call supporters of President Trump extremists, and on the other side people will call President Biden supporters as extremist. This simplification of political differences with a scary buzzword, is not helping educate the public and it takes away seriousness from real problems. For example, in the movement we often called anyone who stood against us communists, some were communists, but most were not and got painted with that brush. The same thing is done by the far left when they call soccer moms who support Republican candidates nazis.
It’s a massive stretch comparing left-leaning Democrats to Communists, and right-leaning Republicans to nazis, but people keep doing it. We are well aware of that polarization at Beyond Barriers and do our best to remain as non-partisan as possible. If someone leans to the left or right we honestly don’t care. Our position is to help people break free of hate, not expect them to align to any specific political system or belief. Personally I have caught some flack from both the far left and far right for being neutral. Never expected that it would be controversial to be a peace builder.