Chapter One Focuses on a Woman Who Was a Member of a Hate Group and Worked Behind the Scenes to Support the “Unite the Right” Rally
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) launched its first original podcast — Sounds Like Hate — an audio documentary series about the dangers and peril of everyday people who engage in extremism, and ways to disengage them from a life of hatred.
Season one, produced and hosted by award-winning journalist-producers/filmmakers Geraldine Moriba and Jamila Paksima, will take listeners into communities grappling with extremism. They speak with people affected by hate, including a woman deeply involved in the extremist movement who left and a high school grappling with racism, and hear their stories as they unfold over each 40-minute episode.
“As journalists representing listeners we are asking questions and following every lead even when they conclude at frustrating dead ends,” said Moriba. “Sounds Like Hate is not an interview show. It’s conversations and authentic recordings of unscripted dialogue, that push and pull at stereotypes, fragilities and firmly held beliefs. Our goal is to stir our listeners. Force them to rethink their opinions. Reframe their concept of tolerance. Get them hooked on these real American stories. Make them want more. Make them want answers. Make them act in more socially beneficial ways.”
The first part of “Getting Out,” just released as part of the launch, begins at the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. It does not focus on the deadly white supremacist rally, but it introduces listeners to Samantha, who worked behind the scenes to support this violent alt-right march. This chapter leads listeners through the story of how she became the women’s coordinator of Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group, and why she decided to leave the movement. It includes interviews with the SPLC’s Dr. Cassie Miller and Michael Edison Hayden, University of Chicago Assistant Professor Kathleen Belew, photojournalist Glenna Gordon, staff writer for The New Yorker Andrew Marantz, Life After Hate Executive Director Sammy Rangel, former head of President Obama’s Special Envoy for International Energy at the State Department Amos Hochstein and Samantha’s brother.
“Through our work over the last five decades, we know how hate and extremism affect communities across the country,” said SPLC President & Chief Executive Officer Margaret Huang. “The unfortunate reality is that bigotry and racism are part of the social fabric and history of our country. It’s our hope that this series will encourage the American public to take a clear look at how hate and extremism appear today and make listeners want to take action against hate in their own communities.”
Part two of this chapter digs deeper into Sam’s wider connections to extremists working inside Washington, D.C.'s Beltway, including her ties to former State Department employee, Matthew Q. Gebert. In August 2019, the SPLC exposed how Gebert oversaw the Washington, D.C.-area chapter of a white nationalist organization, hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online under a pseudonym. This episode will air on August 17.
The second chapter, “Not Okay,” takes listeners inside Randolph Union High School in Vermont, where 95% of students are white. The high school is at the center of two linked battles that are tearing their community apart: whether to remove a mascot some say bears a disturbing resemblance to a hooded Ku Klux Klansman charging on a horse and whether to fly the Black Lives Matter flag. The third chapter, “Baseless,” takes listeners inside the inner workings of a hate group through exclusive, secret audio recordings. The chapter tells the story about a reporter who infiltrated the hate group and learned about their methods of recruiting, the ways in which they encourage violent, terroristic behavior and an international network prepping for the collapse of America. “Not Okay,” will be released in September and “Baseless,” will be released in October.
“Sounds Like Hate is a podcast that examines the DNA of hate,” said Paksima. “We profess we have a civil society, and as a journalist and citizen of this country, I can no longer accept that hate and division will forever be the norm. The only way to understand the views of extremists and their actions is to thoroughly examine the DNA of hate. We are having those hard conversations and asking why people fight for their identity.”
Sounds Like Hate will be available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn and more.
Each chapter also will include a panel discussion. “Getting Out” will include a discussion on August 12, at 8 p.m. EDT to discuss hate groups and the movement to exit such groups. Panelists will include Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed by an extremist in Charlottesville; Howard Graves, senior research analyst at the SPLC; Geraldine Moriba, podcast producer; Sammy Rangel, executive director at Life After Hate; Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America; and Eric Ward, SPLC senior fellow and executive director of the Western States Center.