The Cure For Hate recounts the story of Tony McAleer as he goes from being fully stepped in Neo-Nazi ideology to becoming a voice for peace and unity, and everything he learns along the way.
This memoir explored the life of Tony McAleer, tracing his journey from his initial introduction to the skinhead culture, to becoming a full on far-right white supremacist, to his eventual denouement of racist and hate fueled ideology. The memoir then takes us on a journey of retribution, compassion, and forgiveness, not just towards him, but to the people he harmed.
Ultimately, McAleer becomes a powerful advocate of and partner with groups devoted to getting people out of extremist movements, most notably working with Life After Hate, a group dedicated to help people leave far-right groups, particularly white supremacy groups.
The following are a collection of the best quotes and ideas I’ve taken from the book. If you want to grab the book, get it right here.
Major Lessons From A Cure For Hate by Tony McAleer
The acceptance gained by being part of an extreme group
“I was no longer searching for an identity but a way of life. The punk identity was open to so much interpretation and creativity, but the skinhead lifestyle had rules, structure, and expectations. I knew exactly what I had to do to belong, to fit in, and to gain that brotherhood and acceptance I craved.”
“People at my school may not have respected me, but they feared me, which at the time felt better than respect. The twenty skinheads (there were also Chelseas, skinhead girls so nicknamed for their short haircuts) who’d shown up had made an effort to be there for me. Their doing so told me that I mattered, that they cared. The appearance of rival gangs and the heavy law enforcement presence signalled that we were to be taken seriously. That was my narcissistic perspective at the time anyhow, but the feeling of power could not be ignored.”
“Even though it was a false sense of power, I couldn’t resist the accompanying feeling of safety, the feeling of belonging and of acceptance in the skinhead crew. In those years, friendships were formed and solidified over and over through violence and blood. We were bonded by our wounds, and we found acceptance and brotherhood through our scars of rejection, and safety in our loyalty to each other, which was often proven on the street. We had our own rules, our own code to follow to earn each other’s respect”
“Somebody asked me once, “How did you lose your humanity?” “I didn’t lose it,” I replied. “I traded it for acceptance and approval until there was nothing left.””
The problem with fighting extreme ideas by censorship and force
“That is the danger with censorship; it creates an enticing mystique around the banned material where there previously was none. When the KKK puts flyers on 100 cars or houses in a community, they do it with the knowledge that those flyers might not help to recruit anybody, but the media reporting it will. The white supremacist movement thrives on conflict and attention, and the media is obliged to report on it, which only helps its cause.”
“As I see it, the conundrum in trying to stifle the expression or discussion of offensive topics or beliefs is that while they might go out of immediate sight, they don’t go away. I think it is better to have these negative social or political elements out in the open where we can deal with them head on by exposing them.”
“Force in this context is alluring, as it offers an instant sense of gratification, but it is costly and ineffective in the long term. Vigilante justice is not going to power the change required to heal nations.”
“Because that is the purpose of the leaflets. A couple hundred leaflets on the windshields of cars or on the doorsteps of homes isn’t likely to recruit anybody, but the media storm that follows absolutely will.”
“The argument often used to justify a violent response to fascism is Hitler and the force it took to remove him from power. It also cost 70 million lives. Violence often doesn’t work, as witnessed by the Spanish Civil War, which left 500,000 dead.”
There are many more thoughtful quotes I couldn’t include!
These are just the tip of the iceberg! With a book this good, I there many more chunks of wisdom that I was able to collect from it.
I read at least 2 books per month and I collect the most useful, thought provoking, paradigm shifting, perspective expanding quotes and passages from them.
This collection is constantly growing, but will center around anything that I think can make you better able to exist on this planet in harmony and productivity.
If you’re tired of everyone recommending the same old self-improvement books and you hunger for new and different and ideas, check out my growing collection of quotes.
It’s only $10/month to be part of constantly growing hivemind of ideas, thoughts, and perspectives on books that everyone should be reading but are too caught up in what’s trendy.Expand your mind!
Introducing extreme ideas into mainstream discourse
“Here’s how it works: Let’s start with defining political extremism as a position that less than five percent of the population would support. Now take a position that only one percent of the population would support, put it in a nice wrapper, and deliver it with a silver tongue so that now more than five percent of people would support it. If you can do that, you change where that outer position of extremism lies. That one-percent position has now become the outer edge of normal. When we do this, we incrementally change the location of the middle. When people have no political power, often the only way to move the middle is by moving the extremes. By the same token, people with enormous political capital at their disposal can move the middle at whim, and that in turn moves what is considered the far end of normal to become even more extreme. That is the interplay between mainstream politics and the fringe: they feed off each other.”
“Mainstreaming is a tactic of disguising extreme ideology in the camouflage of normality, which applies as much to language and message as it does to appearance and style.”
“In the moment, all terrorist groups see themselves as involved in a heroic struggle where any means necessary is justified to remove the perceived oppressor. Everything becomes romanticized by the propaganda.”
On compassion and connection with other people
“If we have compassion for others and not ourselves, then it is not compassion but about ego, about being seen to be compassionate. And if we have compassion for ourselves and no one else, then it is not compassion but narcissism. Compassion within and compassion without—the two in balance—is a truly powerful combination, a place from which our fear and judgment can transform into understanding and healing. That which we don’t transform, we transmit.”
“I truly believe that the extent to which we dehumanize others is a mirror of how disconnected and dehumanized we are inside.”
“It’s as if the way we treat ourselves is written on a sign we wear around our neck that then instructs others how to treat us. If we don’t like the way we are being treated, we can change that sign by changing how we treat ourselves and connecting to our inner essence.”
The role of the ego
“The conundrum for anyone who is deeply dedicated to an extremist ideology is that identity and ideology become intertwined. For that reason, facts and logic are mostly ineffective at changing a person’s mind. If you attack the ideology, you’re also attacking the identity, and all of the ego’s defence mechanisms—whether that means lashing out or shutting down—will spring forth to meet the challenge. To change someone’s extremist beliefs, ideology and identity must be separated, and the mechanism for that change is not through the head but through the heart.”
“The ego’s role is to maintain and protect the integrity of that structure. The ego cares not about the accuracy or validity of the underlying beliefs but rather maintaining the structure. To the ego, that Jenga-like structure is everything, and it will stop at nothing, including harmful and even fatal thoughts and actions, to preserve it.”
“White supremacist ideology became so intertwined with my identity that there was nothing anyone could have said to me to talk me out of my position. There was nothing anyone could have said or done to me to dissuade me from my course of action because it wasn’t just what I believed; it was at the heart of who I was, and all of my ego was invested in preserving that.”
On harm and healing
“Whether we like it, accept it, or even believe it, when we harm others, when we harm the collective, we also harm ourselves. When we are a perpetrator and victimize others, as I did, we also hurt ourselves in the process. We dehumanize ourselves as we dehumanize others.”
“The simple truth is that if we don’t heal our pain, we are our pain. And when we are our pain, it affects others—and not in a good way. As within, so without. As above, so below. The macrocosm mirrors the microcosm, and I can look out to the world to uncover buried truths deep within me. Healing the self is a social responsibility, and compassion and healing others is a great way to do that.”
“When we harm one, we harm the whole. When we can heal the whole, we heal the one.”
The role of shame in hatred for others and hatred of self
“Hatred rests on a foundation of toxic shame and unresolved anger.”
“Healthy shame is that transitory feeling when we do something wrong, when we’re embarrassed and our cheeks flush; it acts as our moral compass, letting us know when we are operating outside of our personal value system. Toxic shame is not transitory; it is there 24-7, forming part of the subconscious belief system that creates our identity and telling us that we are worthless, not good enough, less than human. Toxic shame is an impaired sense of self that compels us to live our lives.”
“Toxic shame takes two forms: one is the shame we develop through our individual experiences and the intergenerational transfer of shame in our families (toxic shame cascades intergenerationally until it is healed); the other is collective shame, when we are made to feel shame for who we are and not for what we’ve done.”