Student Scoop: The KIE 16th Annual Fall Lecture featuring Christian Picciolini

Student Scoop: The KIE 16th Annual Fall Lecture featuring Christian Picciolini

Contributed by KIE Student Assistant, Josiah Youngblood

A reformed neo-Nazi and now the founder of the Free Radicals Project that works to prevent hate-based extremism and extremist group recruitment practices, Christian Picciolini spoke at the 16th Annual Kegley Institute of Ethics Fall Lecture about his life and current issues America faces in the struggle against the Culture of Extremism. On Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m., Picciolini shared numerous concepts regarding working against radical extremism from support, to mental health, and even his own powerful and personal story with radicalized groups throughout his life.

One of the major points Picciolini provided concerned mental health. As Picciolini explained, everyone desires to be accepted and have a sense of belonging. Sometimes the best thing we can do to help someone who may be in a radicalized group (or in the midst of joining one) is to listen and express concern and care for that person. As Picciolini noted, sometimes those who need empathy the most are those who deserve it the least. Although this is only just the surface of some of the advice Picciolini shared, the event dove deeper into how his personal story drives him and the knowledge he has gained in helping others to disengage from radical extremism.

To learn more about Picciolini, you can read his books titled White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement–and How I Got Outand Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism. These are excellent resources to learn more about extremist movements and Picciolini’s personal story. Lastly, Picciolini delivered a TEDxTalk that helps put into frame how relevant and serious the issues or radical extremism are today.

In conclusion, Picciolini was an amazing speaker who is full of passion, wisdom and initiative for his cause to find solutions for the issues of extremism in America and the world as a whole.