Former SJW to radicals: “There is still hope”
By Michael Alexander // Oct 12, 2020

It may come off as a surprise to most people but it is possible to bring someone back from the clutches of the radical social justice movement.


Just ask Keri Smith.

A self-confessed former social justice warrior (SJW) who has since become known for being a major voice of reason and clarity in an increasingly loud and violent world, Smith is a co-host at Unsafe Space and a co-founder of Whitesmith Entertainment, both of which champion free speech online and in real life.

Smith, however, says that going from a devoted SJW to a more rational person was not an easy undertaking, noting in an interview with Karlyn Borysenko that removing herself from the Left’s social justice cult – as she described it in a Medium essay — was nothing short of rough.

“One of the first things that happened, that I can pinpoint, that started to open my mind a little bit was I went down a rabbit hole on YouTube, of videos of people supposedly on my side of the Left, physically assaulting Trump supporters outside at Trump rallies,” Smith explained, equating the experience to a rude awakening.

“I was in my little echo chamber: I was told that Trump supporters are violent, that they were the ones doing the violence,” Smith said, adding that nobody – neither her former comrades in the Left nor the media – prepared her for the abject violence she would come to witness in those videos.

“I just watched one after another and I started crying because I was so naive and I did not know that this was happening,” Smith recounted, noting that the experience “opened her mind” at an emotional level.

This, Smith said, was in hindsight an important first step in her journey toward reclaiming her rationality.

According to Smith, this is because humans are predominantly driven by their emotions instead of reason, a reference to a concept first posited by American social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt.

This concept, which basically revolved around the idea that people have an “emotional mind” and a “rational mind,” first appeared in Haidt’s book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion.”

“He calls the emotional mind the “elephant” and the rational mind the “rider,” Smith said, adding that for most of the time, it’s the elephant that leads the rider – and not the other way around. “You will feel emotionally that something is right and then you will work backward and have your rational mind justify it.”

According to Smith, this highlights the importance of why we should be speaking to peoples’ emotions first – especially if we are to change their opinions on important matters.

“We think that if we just give people the right facts and information they’ll come along, they’ll change their opinion – but it’s not just about facts,” Smith said, citing an instance in which Right-wing activist Mike Cernovich advocated using the leaked audio from a conference call between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and some of the city's aldermen to create a video showing the purported destruction of Chicago in the wake of the looting that resulted from the Black Lives Matter protests and riots and the politicians that supported it.

“What does that do? That triggers – that talks to people’s elephants [because] you’re showing them the destruction. Show the Black business owners who are in tears. Show the people that they claim to care about who are hurting because of this and speak to their elephants first because your facts? They’re not going to hear them unless you can learn how to create compelling narratives,” Smith explained, noting that SJWs such as her former comrades are experts at the latter. (Related: The political Left used George Floyd’s dead body as a social justice marionette.)

“Is using emotions cheap, because that’s what SJWs do?” No, because you still have the facts on your side,” Smith stated in her interview – something that the radical Left does not.

“You have to learn to speak to the elephant. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about facts — you’re in a better position because you have the facts on your side, but you start by speaking with emotion and you build an emotionally compelling story,” Smith said.

According to Smith, what is important is that one gets to tell people a story that pulls at their heartstrings because that’s what’s going to help them understand the matters at hand.

Smith, however, warns against treating people unfairly for their beliefs, as doing so will make them less willing to listen.

“If they won’t hear or listen – I don’t usually send people videos from the Right because they’re going to commit a genetic fallacy and say 'I’m not going to watch that' – I just try to make sure that my behavior reflects my beliefs,” Smith said, stressing that it is incredibly important for people to build emotional ties and connections with others in order to make them more open to hearing what they have to say.

Former SJW to activists: “Don’t let yourself become monsters”

A common argument against SJWs is their impatience and need to constantly elevate themselves against whoever it is they’re arguing against, as well as their regular use of overzealous and self-righteous rhetoric in an attempt to win people over.

According to Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, in a column for the Wall Street Journal, the most rabid of SJWs would often use academic and pedantic facts in a bid to protect themselves from listening to inconvenient facts or reasonable criticisms, thus making conversations with them impossible.

They don’t want to talk with you; they want to talk at you,” the two said.

This has dealt negative blows to their movement.

Smith, in her interview, noted that one quote she took to heart just as she was starting to leave the Leftist ideology was a quote by German philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche that goes “Be careful fighting monsters lest you become the monster you’re fighting,” adding that while she had heard of the quote before, it wasn’t until her decision to cut ties with the left did it truly stick to her.

“That for me was like ‘that’s what SJWs have become! They think they’re fighting racism and sexism but they ARE racism and sexism.’ They have become the monsters they fight, they’re creating the monsters,” Smith, who actually identifies as a Liberal, said, adding that she now applies the quote to whatever she does as a way to check herself constantly.

“I can’t let go of that quote and say 'that was just me then,' I have to say it now in everything that I do. I can’t become a monster,” Smith stated, adding that whenever she speaks about her former life as an SJW, she tries to not let negativity fuel her.

“You can become a monster in anything that you do, so when I speak about my old belief system, I can't let hatred and animosity and resentment – I can't let those things become my fuel. I can’t become a monster,” she said.

Smith admits to having moments of weakness, however, noting that she went through a two-week period during the lockdown wherein she succumbed to pressure and resorted to name-calling.

“It did not work for me. It took me back to that Nietzsche quote, about the monster that we’re trying to fight and I had to let go of that again. You have to make sure that your behavior tells people what you believe,” Smith said.

“The time to speak up and push back is now” – former SJW

Noting the turbulent political climate as of present, Smith says it won’t be long before the pernicious activities and ideologies of the radicals fall – but only if people start to really push back.

“Now is the time to be brave – and no, I’m not saying those fears are unjustified, they are completely justified, believe me, I know how justified they are – but you have to do it now, you have to be brave now,” Smith said.

And, according to Smith, the best way to push against harmful radical ideologies is to simply tell people about it and engage in genuine conversations.

“Whatever world you’re in, it’s a gift that you’re there. You’re there to speak to that community, those people, the people in your life, even if it’s just one-on-one conversations – we have to get better at telling a story. The facts can come later – we have the facts on our side,” Smith said, adding that the people that the rational public can easily reach are the ones who are on the fence or those who have accepted some of the tenets of the radicals’ beliefs, but not all of it.

“At the end of the day, they are against racism and sexism like you are but you have to show them how this belief system is racist and sexist because it does a great job at selling itself as the opposite,” Smith stated, noting in the interview that the rational public must also take it upon themselves to read more and be “students of history” if they are to engage with SJWs.

“You don’t have to talk about the complexities of marxism and post-modernism and how they marry one another but you definitely wanna know a little bit about it so that you are comfortable talking about it in conversations,” she said.

Smith, in her interview, reminds the public that things will still get rough before they get better, which further necessitates a pushback from the rational public regardless of their position in the political spectrum.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re atheist or Christian, or if you are Republican or Democrat, or Right or Left, or Conservative or Liberal – it doesn’t matter. We all need to be speaking against this,” Smith said, noting that there are many ways that one can push back against dangerous, radical ideologies.

“Everybody doesn’t have to speak in the same way – you don’t have to start a YouTube (channel), you can talk to the people in your life when the opportunity arises but you wanna speak now before things go in such a bad direction and there are several bad directions that you can go in if you look at history,” Smith explained.

But what about those who are still afraid of the radicals and the dreaded effects of their infamous “cancel culture?”

“I don’t fault anyone for being afraid but I would say that it is much better on the other side, once you stop letting the fear control you. I’m so more at peace than I was before,” Smith said.

Radical Alt-Left – an “empty replacement” for religion

Smith, in the latter part of the interview, reiterated what she wrote in her Medium article: that the radical social justice movement is in fact, functioning as a stand-in for religion.

“The other thing I would say is that for me, this cult-like religion, it was a way to replace God and religion. And I fully believe what (Jordan) Peterson talks about, which Nietzsche talks about, that when you remove God, something will rush in to fill that vacuum,” Smith said.

According to Smith, however, this movement is ultimately, “an empty replacement” because it does not have a concept of grace and of forgiveness.

“It’s not about love and acceptance and individualism – it is an evil replacement and an empty one. It leaves people – they don’t have joy – it leaves people feeling empty and hollow and stuck in a continual perpetuation of having to perform these virtue-signaling signs of allegiance and they’re never washed of their original sin or their privilege, right?” Smith said, adding that once she finally left the movement, she found God.

Smith, however, noted that not everyone will have the same experience as her.

“I’m not saying that’s going to happen for everyone – it doesn’t happen for everyone – but uh, I guess I’ll put it this way: find out what you believe and why,” Smith stated.


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