Nov 10, 2020

'Healing From Hate' Essential Viewing That Documents The Root Cause Of Hate Groups

A still from "Healing from Hate" A STILL COURTESY OF BIG TENT PRODUCT
Risa Sarachan
September 9, 2020

Director Peter Hutchison’s film Healing from Hate asks powerful questions of the current moment. It’s an intimate examination of the de-radicalization of white terrorists involved in hate groups across America through the lens of an organization that seeks to heal those involved. Healing from Hate follows Life After Hate, an organization founded by ex-neo-Nazis and former skinheads that helps people leave hate groups and shift their lives towards a path of compassion. We witness this handled in various ways, from community outreach to direct interventions.

Hutchison, a filmmaker, NY Times author and activist, may be best known for his 2015 film, Requiem for the American Dream, which features interviews with Noam Chomsky about inequalities and wealth disparities in the US and how economic disparity affects society. His short film Angry White Men is an adaptation of sociologist Michael Kimmel’s book of the same title, which investigates the anger behind “white manhood in the age of Trump.” Kimmel makes an appearance in Healing from Hate, serving as a grounding voice throughout the film to dissect the psychological process of white radicalization as it pertains to masculinity and a need for belonging. In one scene, a former skinhead recalls that his fellow skinheads were the first people to take an interest in him as a person. A history of childhood abuse is common among the former neo-Nazis and skinheads, as is a sense of entitlement and of the threat that what they feel they are owed will be taken away by people of other races, resulting in an us-versus-them mentality.

“When I embarked on the project - initially envisioned as an examination of the ‘crisis of masculinity’ in America - Trump had yet to settle into the Oval Office,” said Hutchison. “Although the warning signs were surely there, I could never have anticipated what lay ahead in the form of Charlottesville, the rise of the alt-right, executive branch-endorsed xenophobia and intolerance, and a truly shocking rise in hate crimes.”

Healing from Hate serves as a powerful reminder of the racism, anti-semitism and prejudice still deeply ingrained in American society and examines how the current administration perpetuates this divisiveness through fear-mongering. The film, which premieres virtually this month in select cities, is equal parts chilling and hopeful. It offers a rare glimpse into the psyche of a faction of the world many chose to look away from because the reality, shown with unflinching clarity in Healing from Hate, is far too disturbing. This documentary humanizes the people who seek redemption and paints a vivid picture of what brought them to these dark places and back again.

Screening dates and locations for Healing from Hate can be viewed here.

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