• Hate groups are on the rise in the US, prompting questions over how to stop the spread of such ideologies.
  • A former white supremacist says violence against these activists is unlikely to convince them to leave movements.
  • He says “compassion” is the key to changing minds.

The deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has laid bare the reality that far-right, extremist movements are on the rise in the US, prompting questions about how to combat the spread of hate groups.

The rise has coincided with increased activism against those groups, most prominently by the so-called antifa movement. The decentralized movement, which includes a mixture of anarchists, socialists, communists, and other far-left activists, has taken a direct-action approach to combat far-right groups.

In many cases, that has turned to violence and property destruction. Sometimes, that has come in self-defense, as appears to have been the case in Charlottesville. Other times, it has not, such as when antifa activists smashed windows and hurled smoke bombs during a series of riots following Trump’s election in Portland, Oregon. Or when an activist punched avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer in the face on Inauguration Day.