1. So, a few thoughts on this because it has the potential to do some real damage in this space. There will be a lot of dunking on former extremists, using Heimbach as some sort of example for why formers are liars, shouldn’t be trusted and so on. And this is wrong. Here’s why:
2. Heimbach wasn’t believed by most of us in the field from the very beginning. He didn’t seem like he was doing the work on himself, didn’t seem like he was actually repentant, and there was a lot of suspicion that he was using the “former” platform to basically troll people.
3. 2nd, don’t let Heimbach's example negatively color the experience of all formers. I know, am good friends with & have interviewed dozens and dozens of former extremists – across the ideological spectrum – and all of them are on slow, painful, trauma-ridden journeys out of hate
4. They need support, care, and eventual forgiveness and acceptance. People like Heimbach, whatever his motives, do a lot of harm to how societies perceive formers and make it very difficult for people to move on.
5. If our goal in this is *actually* deradicalization and reintegration, then forgiveness must be part of our toolbox. Otherwise, you are in the wrong space. There will of course be people who fuck with this process. That’s normal and expected.
6. There is somewhat of an industry now of organizations, who quite often lack any training or expertise on this issue, using formers for their own goals – usually funding, stature, reputation, etc.
7. You’ll know them when you see them, because they will be the ones throwing formers in front of TV cameras or academic panels to “tell their story” before they are emotionally and psychologically ready or willing.
8. They will tell these formers that “telling their story” publicly – usually while seated next to them as “deradicalizers” – is the best thing for them. Their own personal journey will not be taken seriously and will not be respected.
9. Formers are in a vulnerable spot. They have lost their previous community, they are more often than not unemployable, they may be struggling with PTSD and trauma, as well as a whole host of other issues. They are easy prey for some of these organizations.
10. They go from relative unknowns to overnight being interviewed in documentaries, on major TV networks, and sitting on panels in front of experts clapping to their “journey” – usually all before they have even processed their experiences.
11/11. So, fuck these organizations. And fuck Heimbach and people like him.

But, do keep your hearts open for the genuine formers who are on an important journey out of hate. They, I hope, will be some of our best allies - when they are ready.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Amarnath Amarasingam

Amarnath Amarasingam Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @AmarAmarasingam

9 Jun
1/ I was losing track, so I thought I would type out everything we know about London attack suspect Nathaniel Veltman so far.

Bringing all the info into one place because the reporting is scattered across different outlets:
2/ (a)The day after the attack, London police said: "There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith". The suspect did not know the victims.
3/ (b)He has been charged with 4 counts of first-degree murder and 1 count of attempted murder; police are considering additional charges.
(c)So far, he has no known ties to hate groups
(d)He was arrested 7km from the site. He pulled up behind a parked taxi.
Read 10 tweets
9 Apr
1. "Regardless of intent or ignorance of a second meaning". I'm done with y'all.

I found myself just staring at Mia’s initial comments a few hours ago, wondering what state of mind I would need to be in to call someone who mildly critiqued my work a bitch and a whore.
2. And what got me was the audacity and insecurity of it all. @nimmideviarchy critique was sharp, but also one that had been made countless times: that Western writers often bring the “white feminist framework into her probe of female extremists abroad.” lareviewofbooks.org/article/eviden…
3. The proper response to this, one would think – for an adult and tenured professor who has been in the game for a few decades – was to write a response showing where the critique is wrong. An article or tweet thread should suffice. This is how this shit works.
Read 15 tweets
24 Mar
Someone asked whether COVID impacted mass shootings in the US

Not according to the Gun Violence Archive (which defines mass shooting as "4 or more people shot or killed in a single incident, not involving the shooter")

2015: 336
2016: 382
2017: 346
2018: 336
2019: 417
2020: 611
In terms of school shootings, which is defined broadly in the @K12ssdb (see highlight), COVID did have an impact (only 1 active shooter situation in 2020, down from 7 in 2019 and 11 in 2018). chds.us/ssdb/
Read 5 tweets
5 Mar
1/ Some of the discussion so far about QAnon and Evangelicals has been a bit simplistic and ahistorical.

Short thread on some of the mistakes I’ve seen: First, the term "evangelical" in the US means you are talking about around 100 million people.
2/ They are not a homogenous glob moving in tandem. The better term for the precise issue we are talking about is probably "Christian nationalists".
3/ Christian nationalism is an ideology that fights for a fusion of religion and politics, that American civic life needs to be "Christian again". While there's some overlap between evangelicals and Christian nationalists, it's analytically useful to look at them separately.
Read 11 tweets
18 Jan
1. Was making a QAnon reading list for a journalist friend of mine, and thought the rest of you might find it useful as well – especially this week. Enjoy.
2. On origins, @QOrigins did a good summary piece a few weeks ago: bellingcat.com/news/americas/…
3. On spread outward, great piece by @BrandyZadrozny and @oneunderscore__ nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…
Read 17 tweets
15 Jan
1. I know social media activists are trying to help identify a lot of the people that were at the Jan 6 insurrection, but I’m curious how people feel about this so-called “crowd sourced investigations”? Here’s a short thread on several instances where this has gone wrong:
2. To start, there’s the famous case of Sunil Tripathi from Boston, a young man struggling with depression, who had gone missing in mid-March 2013. After the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 he was misidentified by social media users as a potential bomber npr.org/sections/codes…
3. There’s also a great documentary about his case: helpusfindsuniltripathi.com
Read 10 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!