A reformed neo Nazi skinhead is sharing his story in Leesburg, Va., bringing his insight to an interfaith community concerned about KKK flyers that have appeared throughout Loudoun County for the past six months.
“It was the darkest days of my life. No part of my life was functioning properly," he said.
Tony McAleer spent 15 years as a neo-Nazi skinhead. He was a recruiter and propagandist in Canada and the United States in the 1990s.
“What the movement gave me was a sense of power when I felt powerless, a sense belonging when I felt alone, a sense of significance when I felt invisible...It’s rooted in a loss of masculinity. You can’t find a job so they feel emasculated. They want to blame somebody, anybody but themselves,” said McAleer.
“When you surround yourself with negative people and that much anger hatred, it’s impossible to function properly. I was closed off I was operating from ego and completely closed off from my heart,” said McAlteer.
What finally began to turn him around was the birth of his daughter Christina 26 years ago.
"I remember being in the delivery room that day and I’m the first person she gets handed to.lShe's got this little scrunched up face, her eyes open for the first time. I connected to another human being for the first time I could remember,” McAleer explained.
And then his son was born and he became a single father of two small children who needed him.
“It became a safe place to soften and allow myself to open up and feel again because I couldn't feel anything," before that, he said.
McAleer is now a leader in the organization Life After Hate. He said it’s important for the community to stay vigilant against those groups leaving KKK flyers around Loudoun County.
“People who are feeling terrified need to know that they’re safe, that they’re not alone," he said. "It's important to understand that the people leaving the leaflets come from a place of fear."
“This ideology always ends, if left unchecked, it always ends in murder. But it’s how we confront them that’s important. We can’t confront them with violence," said McAleer.
He said there are two things hate groups thrive on: attention and conflict and the community needs to work to starve them of both.
The event gets underway at 6:45 p.m. at the Sha’are Shalom Synagogue at 19357 Evergreen Mills Road in Leesburg.
Besides McAleer from Life after Hate, speakers include Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock.
(Correction made to the spelling of Tony McAleer since this first appeared.)