The Current

This former white supremacist says hate music is recruiting alienated, angry youth

A former neo-nazi argues hate music is luring youth in to extremism but says censorship is not the answer to the problem.
Tony McAleer is pictured in 1986, when he still espoused racist views. He is now the co-founder of Life After Hate, a non-profit created by former members of violent far-right extremist movements who help individuals that want to leave that life behind. (Submitted by Tony McAleer)

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Music that glorifies violence and killing or describes religious groups as "sub-human" is not merely for the entertainment of extremists, according to a former white supremacist who served as a skinhead recruiter.

Hate music can serve as a powerful recruitment tool, luring alienated, angry youth like Tony McAleer when he was a teenager, he says.

McAleer, a former organizer for the White Aryan Resistance and now the co-founder of non-profit Life After Hate, said dehumanizing people is a reflection of being internally disconnected and often these youth are feeling disaffected already.
Tony McAleer is the co-founder of Life After Hate, a non-profit raising awareness about extremism. (Tony McAleer/Twitter)

"They're looking for a framework to make sense of it all, and particularly, someone else to blame so they don't have to look inside. The music is a perfect remedy."

Curbing the sheer volume of music with offensive lyrics available on YouTube and other platforms is not an easy feat. YouTube says its community guidelines prohibit hate speech. In a statement to The Current, it said it removes content that violates its policy when flagged by users.

According to McAleer, forcing bands to censor their lyrics is not an effective tactic since, he says, bands have been known to alter their music to be mainstream.

"The same bands — putting out the same music — will soften lyrics that meet the requirements of YouTube but now it's actually more attractive," he tells The Current's guest host Laura Lynch.

So how is this addressed?

McAleer argues don't "make the ugly stuff go away."

"You should take the most offensive music and have it there so you can look at it and keep it in the open."

"I think working on the resilience of young people and education is the answer."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this page, which includes a recent BBC investigation on enforcing YouTube guidelines and a digital music journalist who got Spotify to take offensive music off its platform.

You can also share this article across email, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar and Saman Malik.


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