Confronting far-right extremism

To function at their best, democracies must be inclusive and confident.

Former American skinhead Christian Picciolini during a discussion in Banská Bystrica.Former American skinhead Christian Picciolini during a discussion in Banská Bystrica. (Source: Sme)

We are seeing it daily in our newspapers. In the past years, months, even weeks, we have witnessed the rise of far-right groups and their political parties in the United States, in Europe, and here in Slovakia. Their growth is partially due to frustration with governments that seem incapable of addressing people’s needs. In these complicated and challenging times, it is understandable that people are looking for easy answers to complex problems.  They want results from their political leaders, and they want them quickly. 

Radical groups realize this, and they have presented themselves as political outsiders who reject the establishment and offer a helping hand to those who are struggling. They have also changed their tactics – they wave flags with Nazi symbols less frequently and have toned down rhetoric about racial supremacy; instead they talk about protecting people from immigrants.

But political parties and ideologies espousing hatred and intolerance do not have the answers; in fact, they are part of the problem. These parties seek to blame society’s ills on outsiders – people who look different, speak a foreign language, or worship in a different way. They’d prefer to turn others into scapegoats rather than search for real solutions to the challenges we face. 

A former American skinhead, Christian Picciolini, recently visited Slovakia to share his personal story. 

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