Parents for Peace, a Group That Deprograms Extremists
"Parents for Peace, a 10-person operation of mostly volunteers, says calls to its national helpline have tripled since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with a growing number of younger people being groomed in white supremacist ideology. After supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the intervention groups have experienced a deluge of calls related to the attack as well as to conspiracy theories and QAnon.
The range of extremist ideas they encounter also has widened in the past year, driven by the 2020 election and the pandemic. With the federal government sounding some of its strongest alarms yet about the threat of domestic extremism, these groups say they offer a way forward. Often staffed in part by the formerly radicalized, they are on the front lines of the fight against right-wing extremism, a growing threat that is in the spotlight but which experts argue has long been neglected.
The deradicalization groups preach guidance and reform, as experts call on the Biden administration to invest more in preventing and reversing the kind of radicalization that was on display in the attack on the Capitol, not just prosecuting individuals when the danger escalates to violence and destruction."
“These are people who have chosen hate and ideology as a drug of choice to numb the pain of underlying issues and grievances, and so we treat this the same way we treat addiction,” said Myrieme Churchill, the executive director of Parents for Peace. A father co-founded the group after his radicalized son fatally shot a U.S. soldier.
Experts say deradicalization can be a long and winding process, full of reversals, and emphasize that formal programs are just one tool in a sprawling fight against an overwhelming problem. Some say that hardened extremists are often beyond reach until a tectonic shift in their own lives forces self-reflection.
Brian Hughes breaks radicalization down into three stages: the people “circling the drain” and just considering extremist ideas; the “hard core” like those who stormed the U.S. Capitol; and the people between."