LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Hate was the topic of discussion Wednesday night at UofL, as a former Al Qaeda recruiter and a former white nationalist gave an insider’s perspective.
The UofL Commission on Diversity and Racial Equity, and Peace Catalyst International, organized a day-long discussion on how to counter hateful extremists.
During an evening panel, a Uighur activist, a former white supremacist and a man who used to be an al Qaeda recruiter all sat at a single table.
"I ended up being a propagandist with Al Qaeda while at school in Columbia University studying international affairs," Jesse Morton said.
All on the panel described how hate has touched their lives in a very personal way.
It’s something some in Kentucky may now identify with on the eve of a reluctant anniversary.
“You’ll remember a year ago, there was the shooting at Kroger that was a racially motivated hate crime,” Martin Brooks, the acting director of Peace Catalyst International, said. “That has come up in our program.”
The program aimed to prevent outbursts of violence driven by hate.
"When people resort to violence to promote an ideology, that's a problem," Brooks said. "We need to find better ways to communicate. We need to find better ways to hear the people that are frustrated."
Those on the panel, who formerly promoted hateful ideas, identified issues like childhood trauma, a sense of belonging and feelings of shame prompting a distorted quest for self-pride as reasons why they were filled with hate.
"How do we embrace people who might be moving down this trail toward violent extremism?" Brooks asked. "How can we give them a healthy outlet?"
The program also had a local focus earlier in the day. Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad spoke Wednesday afternoon.