New Profile of Former Neo-Nazi and Current Anti-Racist Leader, Christian Picciolini

For the past two months, I’ve been working on this profile of Christian Picciolini, conducting interviews and bolstering the story with supplemental research. Christian was a neo-Nazi skinhead leader in the early 1990s, and left the movement to denounce white supremacy 25 years ago. For the past two decades, he has devoted himself, full time, to fighting white hate, and disengaging members of hate organizations.

He is now shifting focus to long term prevention measures, and in doing so, sounding an urgent warning to the United States, calling everything happening right now, “The skinhead’s dream of the 1990s coming true.”

Take a moment to read Christian’s fascinating and important story. His arc demonstrates that transformation and redemption, with hard work, humility, and good intentions, are possible, and his message shows what America is currently at risk of losing and facing.

The story originally ran on Salon, and was later reprinted on the Raw Story and AlterNet.

Christian Picciolini - Photo by Britton Picciolini 3.jpg.jpg.jpg | KJZZ

A New Interview with Kirk Hammett

I recently interviewed Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist of Metallica. This is the fifth time we’ve talked, and he is always full of insight and joyful spirit. I first interviewed Hammett, along with all the other members of Metallica, while writing my 33 1/3 book on the Black Album. We had a fascinating and freewheeling conversation about the composition, recording, and seemingly endless life of the record – a conversation that also touched on Hammett’s acceptance of Buddhist philosophy, how the Civil Rights and anti-war movements influenced him at an early age, and his broader thoughts on music.

Since then, we’ve talked about Lemmy Kilmister, and the collaboration album with Lou Reed, Lulu. The release of the Black Album boxset, and the debut of the Black Album episode on the 33 1/3 Spotify podcast, presented the perfect opportunity to have another discussion.

On October 1st, I interviewed Kirk Hammett about the Black Album, his philosophy of creativity, and the often misunderstood identity of Metallica. 333 Sound, the website for the outstanding 33 1/3 book series, has published our discussion.

Read our wide ranging conversation about Metallica, the Black Album, creativity, intellectual curiosity, and Woodstock ’99.

Metallica's Kirk Hammett talks S&M2, drive-in concert, Lou Reed and more –  Marin Independent Journal
Metallica's Metallica (33 1/3): Masciotra, David: 9781628929300:  Amazon.com: Books

Demolishing Dissent: Jesse Jackson and the Propaganda Model of Media – A Lecture

I recently gave a talk at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, IN on how multinational corporations, major media companies, and the two major political parties in the United States coalesced to create explicit bias against Jesse Jackson, and in doing so, played off the implicit bias of the audience. Citing Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman’s seminal, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, I explained how in the interest of manufacturing consent, media companies “demolish dissent,” using the work of Jesse Jackson as an emblematic example.

Listen to the lecture:

Interview with Christian Picciolini

I interviewed Christian Picciolini, a fascinating and inspiring anti-hate leader. A former neo-Nazi, Picciolini now dedicates his life to battling white supremacy, helping young men in hate groups disengage and reform, and advocating for the full promise of multiracial democracy in the United States. His books, White American Youth and Breaking Hate, are essential for understanding the danger of white supremacy, and how it manifests as a formidable threat against the future of American democracy.

Go to Salon, to read our timely and insightful discussion about racism, the threat to democracy, and how leading right wing figures and Republican officials now sound frighteningly like the neo-Nazis of the 1990s.

Christian Picciolini reads from White American Youth: My Descent into  America's Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out (Hachette Books,  2017) – Calandra Italian American Institute
Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism: Picciolini,  Christian: 9780316522939: Amazon.com: Books

The American Fool: How Provincialism, Arrogance, and Greed Make US Foreign Policy an Exercise in Idiocy

I have a new essay in CounterPunch. It covers the “American Fool” factor in US foreign policy. American ignorance, avarice, and hubris have cost millions of people their lives. The latest results are on display in Afghanistan, as a 20 year war of criminality and stupidity comes to an inevitable end.

Read at CounterPunch.

Bush Regrets 'Mission Accomplished' Banner
Who better to lecture Muslims than Islam expert Donald Trump? | David  Shariatmadari | The Guardian

Interview on the Tavis Smiley Show

I had the great thrill and honor of talking with journalist extraordinaire, Tavis Smiley, about my book, I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters. Smiley endorsed I Am Somebody, calling it a “wonderfully written book that profoundly makes its case.” Listen to our conversation in the archives of KBLA, Smiley’s new radio station in Los Angeles.

“Pushing Back Against Authority”: Son Volt, and the Power of Protest Music

The new Son Volt record, Electro Melodier, is the best collection of political songs in many years. I had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Jay Farrar, songwriter and singer for the band, in July. I’ve written an essay on Son Volt, and the importance of protest music, for the July 30th weekend edition of CounterPunch.

Electro Melodier by Son Volt Reviews and Tracks - Metacritic

Walking Around Blind Without a Cane: “Democracy” in America

I had a big new essay at CounterPunch+ last weekend, examining how and why “democracy” is a hazy concept to most Americans, which places it in greater danger from the growing right wing threat of fascism.

A CounterPunch+ subscription costs $4 per month. Please consider subscribing, not only so that you can read my essay, but also some of the best political writing from a genuinely independent source.

“Declarations that the United States has fallen into conditions resembling a ‘civil war’ have become hackneyed and cliched. That such an extreme condemnation of American culture and politics can transform into a bromide demonstrates how deeply institutional and social dysfunction trouble the world’s wealthiest country. Even more disturbing are those surveyors of politics and history who persuasively argue that, in many ways legally and culturally significant, the Confederacy has triumphed long after Gettysburg…”

Read the rest of the essay, “Walking Around Blind Without a Cane: ‘Democracy’ in America.”

Interview on “Pause for Justice” Radio Program

I was recently a guest on the “Pause for Justice” radio program, broadcasting out of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. Gracious and thoughtful host, Allison Heard, and I had a great conversation about my book, “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters,” as well as related issues of civil rights and social justice.

Ms. Heard also gave me the opportunity to select the songs that would play during the broadcast. Here were my choices:

  1. “Think” by Aretha Franklin
  2. “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye
  3. “I Remember, I Believe” by Lizz Wright
  4. “Peaceful World” by John Mellencamp with India.Arie
  5. “People Have the Power” by Patti Smith