Sounds Like Hate is an audio documentary series about the dangers and peril of everyday people who engage in extremism, and ways to disengage them from a life of hatred.

Getting Out II

Full Transcript

Part II

Michael Hayden: He is the most powerful of all the racists who have been connected to the Trump administration. He’s the guy who has the president’s ear.

Amos Hochstein: And if people are up to no good, they can use that by giving information to our adversaries and become susceptible to being used as a double agent.

Samantha: It was never discussed with me what he did. I just knew he worked for the government. And I think, to my knowledge, that was the extent of what most people knew.

Geraldine Moriba: * Sounds Like Hateis a new podcast series from the Southern Poverty Law Center. I’m Geraldine Moriba.

Jamila Paksima: And I’m Jamila Paksima. This first season is about how some people become extremists, and how some of them disengage from a life of hate.

Geraldine Moriba: This is part two of * Getting Out. It’s about Samantha, a woman who went from campaigning for President Barack Obama to becoming an American white nationalist.

Samantha: It’s just really weird, like, this is the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life. And despite the guilt and everything, I almost feel like I’m getting away with something.

Geraldine Moriba: It’s about the homegrown web of hate Samantha was entangled in and white nationalists who have government jobs and political appointments.

Samantha: These groups, this ideology, is leading to violent behavior even outside of the, quote-unquote, policy changes in a humane ethnic cleansing or whatever they call it. It’s, like, a direct correlation. The uprising of violence and the popularity or the rising popularity of this ideology.

Geraldine Moriba: In 2017, Samantha was the women’s leader of Identity Evropa, a group of white nationalists who disguise their hate with clean-cut appearances and white identity politics. She also was connected to government officials who are secretly extremists, like Matthew Gebert.

Matthew Gebert: The cult of Trump is actually very important in terms of he’s going against a power structure that would love to see him dead or in jail.

Geraldine Moriba: While Gebert was a State Department official, he used a pseudonym to hide the messages of hate he spread on the internet. In this YouTube video he’s explaining where President Trump fits in a white nationalist agenda.

Matthew Gebert: And if he’s got this cult, uh, then that insulates him from the attacks from the left. But, no, we should not put all our faith in Trump at all. And we need to be organizing for the post-Trump era and not assume that he’s going to succeed on any grounds where we’d like him to succeed.

Geraldine Moriba: Gebert’s the sort of racist who believes that quote: ‘We need a country founded for white people with a nuclear deterrent’. His goal is to create a white ethno-state and, according to Samantha, Gebert recruited casually at parties he hosted — a lot of parties.

Samantha: There were a lot of gatherings at least once or twice a month. Showing up at these parties means that they’re accessible to you.

Geraldine Moriba: So, it makes you feel valued?

Samantha: And it also makes you feel like you could be the next one.

Geraldine Moriba : You are important.

Samantha : Yeah. And so incentivizes people to stay and to keep going and to keep wanting to be there.

Geraldine Moriba: Gebert’s pseudonym is “Coach Finstock,” taken from the movie * Teen Wolf. And his wife Anna is called “Wolfy James.”

Geraldine Moriba: So, what are we looking at here in this video?

Samantha: This is Coach Finnstock and Wolfy James’s house. I actually don’t even remember why I took the video. I just did. I think, honestly, they have a really nice house. It was never discussed with me what he did. I just knew he worked for the government. And I think, to my knowledge, that was kind of the extent of what most people knew.

Amos Hochstein: Hello.

Geraldine Moriba: Hi, can you hear me?

Amos Hochstein: I can hear you fine.

Geraldine Moriba: That’s Amos Hochstein, the former head of President Barack Obama’s special envoy for international energy at the State Department. He was Gebert’s manager until 2017.

Amos Hochstein: He primarily was the desk officer for Pakistan, Afghanistan, and for a while, India, on energy.

Geraldine Moriba: So, how did it first come to your attention that Gebert is a white supremacist?

Amos Hochstein: I think I got a lot of text messages from people. It was a total shock.

Geraldine Moriba: You had no idea?

Amos Hochstein: No idea. He had full access to classified information and classified computer systems that would give him access to quite a bit of information outside of the purview of the energy bureau alone. Look, this is not about Matt Gebert. This is about the fact that someone like Matt Gebert easily gets a security clearance more than once. Has a, what is supposed to be a background check, and a forgiving attitude towards people with his kinds of views by the people who are conducting the security clearance.

Jamila Paksima: Geraldine, how did Gebert pass background security checks and get into the State Department?

Geraldine Moriba: When anyone is hired, they’re required to complete a SF-86, that’s a standard background questionnaire. According to Hochstein, the answers are evaluated by subcontractors, often retired police officers. In Gebert’s case, he passed the screening every five years.

Amos Hochstein: I strongly believe that if someone like Matt Gebert was black or Hispanic or Muslim this type of behavior would have been discovered and become a big problem. I have seen people get wrapped up and get stuck without a security clearance for much more minor and insignificant issues. And I think that the review falls down and collapses because there’s no way that they didn’t know that he had these views and that he was doing these things. We are willing to believe that a Muslim could be radicalized and still wear a suit and look normative, but the imagery of a well-educated, boy next door doesn’t match with a white supremacist. He’s just more conservative.

Geraldine Moriba: Samantha remembers the gatherings hosted by the Geberts after President Trump entered office.

Samantha: The Geberts were, like, an important behind-the-scenes family. Politicians or other people would go to visit their house. You know, actors in the movement, voices,

whatever. They were close enough to D.C. that people would stay with them and then go to whatever they needed to go to. The reason that I knew them was because they had said they wanted to make that area, like, a mini-ethnostate. They wanted as many white people in the movement to move there as possible.

Geraldine Moriba: That area is Leesburg in Northern Virginia, about an hour from Washington, D.C.

Samantha: I had been there several times. When I first moved up there, I had transferred with a job and I didn’t have an apartment. And I stayed with them for a couple of weeks.

Geraldine Moriba : Oh, you lived with them?

Samantha: Briefly, yeah, for a week or two. They just happened to be in a place where people were traveling through and it happened to be at a time when there was a lot of movement within the movement. And I think they just happened to have the resources and ability to facilitate those things.

Geraldine Moriba: I understand that at his parties he served cookies in the shape of swastikas.

Samantha: Yeah.

Geraldine Moriba: And there was no offense at these parties when someone would walk around with a tray of cookies that look like swastikas, that was totally okay?

Samantha: I think there was this desire…

Geraldine Moriba: To normalize hate?

Samantha: Yes. If the general public wants to call the alt-right Nazis, then they’re gonna take it and run with it, almost as a joke.

Geraldine Moriba: The words alt right get used a lot. It’s a set of far-right ideologies with white nationalism at its core.

Amos Hochstein: It scares the hell out of me. I don’t think there is a rise in white supremacy. I think there’s a rise in people who are white supremacist feeling okay to speak out loud.

Geraldine Moriba: Amos Hochstein, Gebert’s former manager, worries enough isn’t being done to weed out government staffers who are extremists.

Amos Hochstein: Charging him with lying on his security clearance to make an example of how intolerable this is in the federal government, uh, would send a message. It would not root out and get all the other white supremacists out of the State Department or the government service. But it would send a chilling message and at least bring some of these people back into their holes.

Geraldine Moriba: White supremacist organizations have openly said that the only way to gain power is to get into office, to take over intelligence agencies — the CIA, the FBI — and enter every division of government.

Amos Hochstein: Which is why I don’t like talking about Matt Gebert. I like talking about it as a symbol of: Is there a review that we are doing? Instead of circling the wagons and trying to protect, uh, the system that failed, we should be doing the opposite. Let’s go and see. How did we miss this? This is not one person. This is a danger that we have to see, a threat from within. He wrote about how we should be uniting with the white Russian and Nordic people and admiration for, essentially for Putin. That’s somebody with a security clearance who is sworn to protect and defend the United States. And if they have access to classified information, what does that mean to our government’s efforts or for another government to use these people to help them gain more access and information about U.S. operations and U.S. way of thinking inside the government? We have to learn how to find these people so that they don’t take senior positions in government.

Geraldine Moriba: Is there anything that can be done to either de-radicalize somebody like him or disempower people who have these views?

Amos Hochstein: Before we get him to change, we have to change. We have to make sure that we are not continuing to empower and give a sense of security and safety to people who join the government with these kinds of views and actions. There hasn’t been a single hearing on the Hill where the head of the diplomatic security bureau, the assistant secretary, is called before the Hill and said, ‘Explain what happened here’.

Geraldine Moriba: Gebert is still sharing his opinions online.

Matthew Podcast: I’m here for white people.

Geraldine Moriba: Here he is on a podcast responding to a question from a listener who’s concerned about marrying a woman who happens to be half-Japanese.

Matthew Gebert: We do have to draw lines somewhere. You have the ideal, you have the unacceptable, and then there are middle blurry lines. Every people has to deal with

this: Who gets citizenship. Who’s in. Who’s out. Uh, and 25-Japanese to me is very close to that blurry line, just being candid.

Geraldine Moriba: Mike Hayden is a senior investigative reporter with Hatewatch at the Southern Poverty Law Center. He broke this story about Gebert.

Michael Hayden: Gebert is focused on the whole subject of declining white birth rates and white genocide. It’s supposed to be, like, a kind of a family-friendly podcast where he kind of packages it. But as with all these things, they have difficulty staying on track and, uhm, it veers off into explicit hate and sometimes violent fantasies.

Jamila Paksima: So, how is removing a government employee like Gebert different than removing a presidential appointee who is a white nationalist?

Geraldine Moriba: Jamila, it’s not easy. When it works, there’s a system in place to weed out government employees like Gebert. But presidential appointments are political. These appointees are subject to removal only by the president. Take Steven Miller. He’s a senior advisor to President Trump, leaked private emails between Miller and a reporter at Breitbart, a right-wing publication, reveal that Miller’s opinions blatantly parrot white nationalist propaganda. And in spite of demands for his removal, he’s still there.

Michael Hayden: And one of the things that I think that we were able to do with this story is to give people the context to understand the types of literature, the types of reading materials that Steven Miller came up in. You know, what he had created through Breitbart was really an engine of hatred. He was able to effectively use that to turn out Trump’s base, I think, and has continued to be able to use that base to enact policies that would have been unheard of before Trump took office. I was honestly pretty disgusted with how little interest the media paid before the story came along to Miller’s connections to white nationalists.

Geraldine Moriba: Mike Hayden also broke the story about Miller’s emails.

Michael Hayden: This guy, by all accounts, and all you have to do is dig around and ask, was running the conservative union at Duke with Richard Spencer. You know, Miller is described in sort of glamorous terms as sort of this bad boy of the White House or whatever. It’s truly disgusting that somebody would allow, you know, somebody who has these connections, to have that kind of reception. That’s extremely insulting to all Americans, but especially the type of people who suffer under his policies.

Geraldine Moriba: After Miller’s white supremacist views were revealed in these emails, nothing happened. He’s still influencing policy.

Michael Hayden: Not only have they not done anything, they would not do anything because Miller is so crucial and so important to Trump’s mission, which, uh, to me has always been to try to hold the line on demographics in the United States and try to protect, uhm, white power in America.

Samantha: I mean, yeah, they’re not even dog whistles anymore. I mean, Donald Trump point blank said he was a nationalist. He once also tweeted and said that barbed wire can be beautiful if it’s used for the right things. He also asked about the white genocide in South Africa. These are all white nationalist talking points that Donald Trump is falling for or believing.

Geraldine Moriba: And these far-right extremist views held by people in government are shared by everyday white supremacists hiding in plain sight: postal workers, doctors, teachers, or even a person you care about the most.

Geraldine Moriba: You had a relationship with a leader of the alt-right.

Samantha: Yes. By the standard of the movement, he was charismatic. He gave the impression of being productive and driven and ambitious. And he would tell me that he was good at networking, that he was on his way up. He really tried to sell himself to not just me but to everybody.

Geraldine Moriba: Samantha didn’t want to identify this person on the record.

Samantha: Despite not really being interested, a lot of people told me to give him a chance. And so I did.

Geraldine Moriba: Did this leader ever threaten you personally?

Samantha: Yes, many times.

Geraldine Moriba: What kinds of threats?

Samantha: I mean, that I would be killed, that I would be doxxed, that I would be raped, that my life was over the second he decided to say or do something.

Geraldine Moriba: Doxing is when someone maliciously publishes private information about another person on the internet with the intent to expose them to harm.

Samantha: There’s this idea that in the white nationalist circles, you’re building a, quote unquote, high-trust society. But what they don’t also tell you is that if you ever disagree with anything or you leave, that information is now used against you. It’s, like, almost standard cult procedure. Your whole entire life is burned to the ground.

Jamila Paksima: Was Samantha ever doxed?

Geraldine Moriba: No. When Samantha made a decision to leave Identity Evropa, she took steps to protect herself from retaliation. She also began the work of deconstructing her racist beliefs.

Samantha: I’ve realized that there are people that have made lesser mistakes and are condemned for the rest of their lives. And that’s something I’m really, really, I hate to admit it, this probably may be one of the only times that I’m grateful for my white privilege.

Geraldine Moriba: Why should we listen to you? Why should we care?

Samantha: If we want to talk about what freedom of speech really is, you need to talk about the reality of what people say and what these thoughts lead to. And had I known that, had I had someone telling me these truths when I was getting into this, there’s a very high chance I would have never joined.

Geraldine Moriba: You read black media, right?

Samantha: Yeah.

Geraldine Moriba: Why?

Samantha: I think it’s important to read about experiences that I wouldn’t necessarily understand or know about. If I don’t understand the black experience from a black lens, then, what am I doing?

Geraldine Moriba: This is your way of getting out of an echo chamber?

Samantha: I think it’s important to read from other perspectives because what is the point of me just talking to other white people? Like, that’s not what this world is supposed to be.

Geraldine Moriba: But you’re reading articles that are pointing out where white people are getting the narrative wrong.

Samantha: I was a little sensitive to it because I was, like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s what I thought’. Like, how is a black person calling out a white person not racist? Like, you have those moments where even just to play devil’s advocate you want to ask those questions. I think there are questions that white people want to ask that they’re afraid to. And reading these things and by, again, reading statistics, reading articles,

understanding other perspectives, really just putting myself out there and being willing to take that and to say, ‘You know what? Like, sure, I have white fragility,’ and I need to understand what that even means.

Geraldine Moriba: How do you feel being interviewed by a black woman?

Samantha: It feels the same as being interviewed by anyone else about this stuff. It’s harder to talk about in the beginning and it easier to talk about towards the end. But I mean, it has nothing to do with you being black. It has to do with me being an idiot for a time in my life. For a long time I denied it and I said, ‘You know, I’m brainwashed’. And it took a long time for me to really realize that whether I meant it or not I said racist things. I approved of racist ideology and action. And I was absolutely racist. I have not really looked back on any messages that I sent. I don’t really, I don’t think I used any racial slurs. But you don’t have to to be racist. You can sugar coat anything, but at the end of the day, it’s still trash.

Geraldine Moriba: Are you racist now?

Samantha: I am doing my best to dismantle anything in my head.

Geraldine Moriba: Before dismantling ‘anything in her head,’ Samantha checked her own racial purity.

Samantha: It’s very popular to take a DNA test like, 23andMe, uhm, anything like that. And if you are not white enough or have a high enough percentage of European ancestry or whatever you’ll typically get kicked out of the movement.

Geraldine Moriba: So, someone’s checking that?

Samantha: Yes and no. It’s almost like a bragging rights thing in there. Uhm, there are channels in some, like, chat servers online where you can just post your results, uhm, specifically 23andMe has, like, how many Neanderthal variance people have. And that was something to brag about.

Geraldine Moriba: Being Neanderthal, once upon a time, would not have been a bragging right. The narrative has changed.

Samantha: Oh, it sure has. Being white is, like, bad or a negative.

Geraldine Moriba: This recording of Samantha was made in the days following the Charlottesville rally.

Samantha : As long as I’ve been alive, it’s always kind of felt like small browbeating. Or, I kind of always had to apologize for being who I am. If I want to talk to anyone about a problem that I’m having, or a conflict that I’m trying to resolve, there’s always like this, ‘Yeah, but you’re white’.

Glenna Gordon: That’s classic white supremacy.

Geraldine Moriba: Photojournalist Glenna Gordon made that recording. She says white people who believe their identity is under assault isn’t surprising.

Glenna Gordon: That’s, like, textbook white supremacy. White supremacy is about white victimhood. It’s about the idea that people of color are, like, out to get white people and that white people are being dominated and trampled. Like, that’s textbook. Was she gonna, you know, shoot up a synagogue? No, absolutely not. Uhm, were people that she was associated with and groups she was in pushing for violence in Charlottesville? Yes, absolutely. Were they trying to change what the mainstream saw as acceptable forms of quote-unquote white advocacy? Yeah. I think that is fundamentally dangerous, but it’s really different than physical danger. And I think that it’s important to separate those two. A lot of people contributed to what happened at Charlottesville, including, uhm, the Virginia police, including the city mayor, including the journalists who came and covered it.

Geraldine Moriba: And so did Sam.

Glenna Gordon : Yeah. So did Sam. She was so lonely and isolated and scared.

Geraldine Moriba : She actually had management and leadership roles in a way that she’d never had in her life.

Glenna Gordon : Yeah. But then to walk away from all of that. When you walk away from that, you’re lonely and scared. And to walk away from maybe the most exciting thing that had happened to a waitress, a smart waitress, but a waitress.

Sammy Rangel: When you live this way for so long it’s a permanent spot inside you somewhere. It doesn’t go away.

Geraldine Moriba: Life After Hate helps people leave the violent far-right. Samanatha turned to them for support.

Sammy Rangel: If I asked you in the next 30 days to unlearn the alphabet, could you do it?

Geraldine Moriba: Sammy Rangel is the executive director.

Sammy Rangel: This is why it’s important to have a conversation about the difference between stopping their behavior and changing it. But change and recovery is when you start to really focus on, ‘What am I going to exchange it for?’

Geraldine Moriba: Can anyone be motivated to leave a life of extremism?

Sammy Rangel: We’re not here to evaluate your worthiness of humanity. We respect that each person has humanity in them. And when we approach a space from that space, I do believe that you are likely to reach someone many more times than you are if you don’t use that strategy. Yes, there is a need for prison, at times. Yes, there is a need for separation. Yes, there is a need for commitment or treatment, maybe even suspension or expulsion. Those are, but we’re not arguing against those constraints in the face of violent extremism. What we’re arguing against is we often either lose our heads in the process of trying to hold someone accountable. And the vast majority of these people are not gonna go away forever. They’re going to be coming back into your society and often into the very same environment from which they left. And so we have to be prepared how to supervise that but also how to reconcile with that.

Geraldine Moriba: Samantha was a part of Identity Evropa for 10 months. It takes much more time to change.

Samantha: I have to take a moment and kind of be gentle to myself.

I can be really, really hard on myself for this. As I should be. I think when you first leave this and you actually understand the gravity of what you were saying and what you were approving of it’s devastating, to say the least.

Geraldine Moriba: How do you wipe those beliefs out of your mind?

Samantha: I don’t think it’s a matter of wiping your mind. All of this work is very internal. I can’t just cut my hair and say, ‘I’m a different person now’, like that, that does not mean anything.

Sammy Rangel: No one is irredeemable. No one has broken beyond repair.

Geraldine Moriba: Rangel says unlearning racism is difficult but it’s achievable.

Sammy Rangel: The main recommendations are limit your exposure to negative online behaviors. Limit your exposure to negative social media and media outlet sites. It’s about not only just distancing yourself from, you know, these anti-social environments, but from the negative mindset, as well.

Samantha: I was brainwashed in all of this stuff. And then I had to really accept the fact that I like feeling important. I like feeling like I have power. And that is what the alt-right gave me.

Geraldine Moriba: And were those feelings generated because of your proximity to the people in power or…

Samantha: No.

Geraldine Moriba: What caused that?

Samantha: They do this thing where they’ll single out people and say, ‘Yeah, everyone’s, you know; it’s a populist movement, but you’re special’. And it was having women look up to me and ask me for advice. It was men seeking my approval. It was, leaders or not, it was just having this community of people that made me feel like I was a part of it. And it took an outside source of, like, real terrifying abuse for me to understand that I’m just reliving my own bullshit every day. And I had to look at myself in the mirror and really see who I was to, like, get that. I had to accept the really ugly parts of myself in order to either heal them or just sit down with them and not let them take over.

Geraldine Moriba: Rangel says anyone trying to get out will need professional counseling.

Sammy Rangel: Which can be a challenge because there aren’t a lot of professionals that are trained or who specialize in working with someone from a violent extremist group. And, you know, violence and violent extremism are not the same things. We’re asking people to change their entire lifestyles in many ways, right? And to set up a recovery plan or change plan that addresses what to do when they feel triggered, when or how to challenge their own perspectives and ideologies, which means now you have to adopt a new set of ideologies, right? And a lot of times those new sets are in direct conflict with your old one. And so it can present a challenge. No one should do this process alone.

Samantha: He’s steaming milk in an insulated cup, so even when the milk gets hot he won’t be able to feel it.

Samantha’s Brother: I don’t need to feel when the milk gets hot, but I can tell by the texture of the milk.

Geraldine Moriba: Your sister is at a new level of honesty.

Samantha’s Brother: I hope people, you know, they’re gonna to take what they will from this, but people do stupid things all the time. We’re tragically human. But there’s a

way out from any bad place in life. Not necessarily from hate groups or, you know, bad relationships. It’s anything. And I think the easiest way to get through that is to take an honest look at yourself in the mirror and just stop bullshitting yourself. And I think that’s something that Sam has done. So, I’m very proud of you.

Geraldine Moriba: Sam, part of your therapy of getting out: you’re getting counseling; you’re doing meditation; you’re also going to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Samantha: You know, AA, therapy, meditation; it’s all part of this. Honestly, it’s not religious. It’s a spiritual thing. My spirit was really damaged and I had to really look at myself and take, like, this fearless moral inventory of, like, who I am. Who do I think has hurt me and what did I contribute to that? I want to eventually, you know, like, a five-year plan would be either I’m living in my own space or I own a space, like, an establishment for people to come to.

Geraldine Moriba: Now Samantha is making it her personal mission to support other women trying to escape.

Samantha: I want to have literature. I want to have people and talks and a community where you can go and sit down and really challenge yourself.

Geraldine Moriba: A shelter, of sorts.

Samantha: Yeah. I think if it’s not sympathy or not exact understanding, I think a willingness to hear people out is something that, women in particular, leaving the movement are no longer used to. I was not a good advocate for other women or for anyone, really, when I was in there. And I never want to wake up one morning and realize that I was a bad advocate again. So, I am about to complete.

Geraldine Moriba: When I called Samantha, to check on her progress, she told me she’s training with Life After Hate. She’s learning about outreach and managing forums to help other people get out of extremist groups.

Samantha: And it just kind of gives you a broader view outside of your personal experience into what actually goes on in these movements. You just kind of learn, like, how to talk to people, people who are on the edge, on the fringe, kind of at that precipice of trying to figure out where they want to go.

Geraldine Moriba: If someone listening to you right now is trying to get out of extremism, what would you say to them?

Samantha: It’s going to be hard and it’s going to be scary. We’re here. You might think that you don’t have a chance, that you’re never gonna go back to being a normal person.

That was a huge fear of mine. As it turns out, outside of the alt-right, the world is a much more gentler and much more patient and forgiving and gracious, beautiful.

Glenna Gordon: We have to give people a way out. What else is there?

Geraldine Moriba: Glenna Gordon believes that people like Samantha who want to change should be given everything they need to make that happen.

Glenna Gordon: There’s nothing else. That’s what I’m saying about these people are not going anywhere. They’re not gonna… If we punish them when they leave, we’re not encouraging anybody to leave. What she did was hard. Somebody else with, like, a little less fortitude could’ve stayed. She could be, like, a big player in that world right now. And she walked away from it.

Samantha: I reached my point in there when my grandmother passed and realized that she had nothing to be proud of. My family, no one I knew, had any reason to mention me as someone who inspired them. And I realized that I would rather die than continue being a part of something so awful.

Jamila Paksima: What’s changed since Samantha got out of Identity Evropa?

Geraldine Moriba: Well, after the violent disaster in Charlottesville, Identity Evropa rebranded themselves as the American Identity Movement, AIM for short. But it’s still a white power group spreading misinformation, recruiting younger, white Americans and trying to get them government jobs or political appointments. Matthew Gebert no longer works at the State Department, but he continues to actively spread white nationalist hate on the internet. And Steve Miller? He is still President Trump’s senior policy advisor on immigration.

Jamila Paksima: And what about Samantha?

Geraldine Moriba: She’s starting over: New job, new friends, new goals. She’s revealing the details of her story now to help to counter extremism.

Samantha: Before you call or every time I get a text from you, uhm, I get this pang of anxiety. Anytime that, like, you know, the due date or the deadline or whatever approaches I get nervous because this is actually not what I want to be doing. I don’t want to be the face of anything. But I had realized that there aren’t many people that are willing to do this and are willing to, like, you know, put their head in the stocks and let the public mock them for making such a big mistake. Uhm, and for a long time, I was really mad at myself for having joined. And then I kind of realized, like, I should also probably be a little proud of myself for getting out.

Geraldine Moriba: Samantha admits she still has plenty of work to do. We all need to continue examining what it means to live together in American civil society because what’s the price if we don’t get this right? * Sounds Like Hateare stories about people who engage in extremism and hold onto lies.

Jamila Paksima: And how some of them disengage from a life of hate. Not Okay is our next two-part story. It’s about a high school in Vermont struggling to counter the expressions of hate among its students.

Aamir: I’ve been physically assaulted by a person at our school and was repeatedly called the ‘N-word’ in that I was gonna get shot. And I didn’t put my hands on them at all. And I just stood there, just, like, stood there, just taking it.

Jamila Paksima: If you or anyone you know has experienced a hate incident or crime, please contact the appropriate local authority or elected official. You can also document what happened at

Geraldine Moriba: This is Sounds Like Hate, brought to you by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Additional funding is provided by the Ring Foundation.

Jamila Paksima: I’m Jamila Paksima.

Geraldine Moriba: And I’m Geraldine Moriba. Our editor is Randy Scott Carroll. Composer is Warner Meadows. Associate Producer is Jordan Gass-Poore. Thank you for listening.