8 February 2012

Tony McAleer: We Gotta Have Something to Hope For

Back in the early 1990s, Tony McAleer was a neo-Nazi based out in British Columbia best known for Canadian Liberty Net (a virulently racist telephone telephone line), being held in contempt of court for continuing said hate line when the courts ordered him to shut it down, his courting of the and self-promotion in the media (including American talk shows) and his management of at last one racist rock band. He also, very early on, understood the potential influence of the Internet, then in it's relative infancy, in promoting racist views to a much wider audience.

By the mid 1990s, McAleer had fallen off most anti-racist's radars as he didn't appear active any longer. By the 2000s, he was in some ways a footnote in the history of the racist movement in that his primary mode of disseminating racist propaganda, telephone phone messages, had been so eclipsed by the Internet that the idea of having to call a phone number to hear pre-recorded racist diatribes seemed almost silly. We forget that these quaint little telephone lines really did have a significant impact for their times and that Sec. 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act was in many ways a reaction to this new use of the technology.

One of our members was re-watching "Hearts of Hate" a few months ago and was reminded of McAleer's role in the 90s. As McAleer has seemingly fallen off the face of the earth, that member decided to see if more information could be found about what McAleer was currently up to. Our member found his website and was surprised by the direction that McAleer's life seemed to have gone in.

Yesterday, in part as a response to the series of assaults allegedly carried out by members of Blood & Honour, McAleer was interviewed by the CBC about his time in the movement and how (and why) he eventually got out.

Now, we certainly understand that there are a lot of our readers who are very skeptical of McAleer's claims to have rejected racism. We know that some of our readers have had contact with McAleer in the past and can't bring themselves to accept that he may not be the same person. We accept this and acknowledge that these readers may very well be correct. However, we need to give him the benefit of the doubt. We do this less for McAleer's benefit and more as a result of a deep desire for people who have harmed their communities to change and to make amends for the harm they have caused.

We have a number of reasons for writing articles for this blog. Those reasons include shining a light on the cockroaches in the racist movement and exposing their morally bankrupt ideas to the public where they wither under scrutiny. We try to warn our community, a community that encompasses all of Canada and beyond, of the dangers that organized racism poses to us all. We try to warn vulnerable youths who might be attracted to the sense of family that hate groups seem to foster initially that it is an illusion and that it's a road that leads to nowhere. But also, we have to look for something to be hopeful for. We don't believe that everyone sucked into the racist movement is irrevocably lost forever. If we did, we would stop writing because it would all seem so pointless. We know that there have been people who have changed their views and who have become productive members of our society. In the relatively short time has been active, we know of at least two dozen people who have left organized racism and have been trying to make amends for the harm they were a part of. Some of those individuals are well known, some aren't.

So, we genuinely hope that Tony McAleer has rejected the racism that was once such a significant part of his life and is now trying to do right by his children and the people that he hurt. We aren't so naive that we don't think that there are those who might try to manipulate us and our good will, but we don't want to ever find ourselves in a state where we aren't willing to our express good will.


Says he was converted by daughter's birth and encounter with Jewish mentor


A B.C. man who was a recruiter for white supremacist groups says he's changed his hateful ways and has moved on to become a motivational speaker who helps others leave racist organizations.


Tony McAleer, 44, looks back ruefully on his past involvements with such groups.


“It was like a quick sugar high at the time, but the long-term damage — not just to myself but to other people — it wasn’t worth it,” McAleer says.


McAleer said he used to attend cross burnings conducted by the Aryan Resistance Movement in Idaho and was seduced by the power that came with being a skinhead.


“It was exciting. There's an element of fantasy to it,” he told CBC News in a recent interview. “It was as bad as it could get and there was an excitement that came from that.”


McAleer eventually gained notoriety from his activities, making media appearances to espouse neo-Nazi views. He also ran a telephone hotline that resulted in an arrest for contempt of court.


In those days, McAleer and his racist colleagues were fighting for the West Coast to be a whites-only enclave.


But he said that he suddenly questioned his ideology at a pivotal moment — the birth of his daughter.


“The nurse handed her to me in the delivery room ... this tiny fragile human being who is not capable of hatred, whatsoever,” McAleer said.


He said he slowly withdrew from the racist organizations as he struggled to raise two children as a single dad with a history that made him virtually unemployable. 

Met Jewish mentor

Then he met psychologist Dov Baron, who is Jewish, who became a mentor and helped McAleer re-invent himself as a money manager and motivational speaker.


“I've done a pretty good job of fading to black and covering my tracks and living a life where nobody had any idea about my past,” McAleer said. “I have to acknowledge and I do acknowledge the things that I have done and I have a healthy shame about those things,” he said.

Now McAleer is speaking out against what he calls senseless violence.

In a recent appearance on the CBC Radio B.C. program On The Coast, McAleer commented on the charges laid against three alleged neo-Nazis in connection with six alleged assaults on visible minorities in the Vancouver area.


“I just know where it’s going to end up and I have compassion for where they're at and what it’s like to be that confused young man, seeking significance, going out and seeking it in a way that's not healthy,” McAleer said.


But there can be a downside to McAleer’s outspokenness, according to his friend Baron.


“He is taking a massive risk,” Baron said. “First of all, Tony is a businessman. He is well respected in his business community. There will be people who will turn their backs of him, without a shadow of a doubt.”


But McAleer said he can’t remain silent, and is writing a book about his transformation, entitled The Neo-Compassionist.


“I’ve watched the movement suck people in and spit them out again,” McAleer said. “And there’s going to come a time when you’re going to question, ‘Why am I in this?’”

With files from the CBC's Natalie Clancy

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a truly inspirational story...please continue your amazing work Tony!!

Anonymous said...

I would sure like to hear how and what processes he undertook on his path of liberation and to see if its a deep re-structuring of core beliefs or if it mostly just a functionality of change that could be described as surface.

Anonymous said...

McAleer is pretty sick. Have met him in recent days and he is a seriously creepy guy. Wouldn't trust him near my kids; a very manipulative person who could feed on the weak for his own personal gain.

Anonymous said...

Cool.

Anonymous said...

ARC said - ..."we don't want to ever find ourselves in a state where we aren't willing to our express good will."

And that's why you all are awesome. I thank you for being MY life line.

Harry Abrams said...

While remaining awake to the possibility that "reformed" racists maybe at times be cynically "playing" people so that they can participate normally in society, I feel the door should be left open for those who have genuinely seen the error of their ways, seek change and a chance to make amends.

Anonymous said...

Hey!
Tony McAleer's a reformed neo nazi hate manger now, buy his book!

Is he making amends or a good living on the motivational circuit talking about his personal journey and self-forgiveness..

Sorry, ain't buyin it.. Knew this creep in the day, he was a sociopathic manipulator then, and I highly doubt he's changed his ways - I am quite sure that Tony McAleer is a Nazi hate-monger still to this day.. Crocodile tears and a well-paid speakers circuit don't cut it

Anonymous said...

I've known the guy for years and if you don't believe the changes in him, just take a look at his kids! He raised them on his own, and they are both very intelligent, great kids, and without a doubt compassionate people just like him. Be as cynical as you want, but i think the guys done a great job with them and with improving his life.