380: Matthew Stevenson, part 1: Why Befriend a White Nationalist?

2020-09-03

Matthew is friends with the guy who built the white nationalist online community, Stormfront. He is also an observant orthodox Jew. You may have heard about him because the pair made headlines and appeared on the Daily Show and shows like that. Matthew and Derek Black made headlines because Matthew invited Derek to Shabat dinner in college. They became friends. Derek eventually disavowed his earlier beliefs, in large part because of their friendship. In our conversation, Matthew shares his side of the story. Most interviews featured Derek, which will get more ratings, but I find Matthew's initiative in leading by engaging more inspiring, especially for those of us not raised as white nationalists. I compare how the mainstream approaches people they disagree with---"punch a Nazi" or saying the others don't care---with Matthew's approach. I don't think people realize Matthew's effectiveness. I could try to describe it, but Matthew has lived it, in particular in a situation with as diametrically opposed views you can imagine. Rarely do I find myself speechless to add to what the guest said. All I can say is I learned more than I expected and I expected to learn a lot. I expect to listen to this episode many times over the years. I'll keep in touch with Matthew too and bring him back. What I'm trying to work on in leading people I disagree with, he's done for longer with more personal at stake.

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