Pivot points are the moments in your life where everything changes. They are moments of redemption, love, courage, and struggle — and after they happened you can be a different person. On tonight’s Glenn Beck Program, Glenn heard the incredible story of Christian Picciolini — a former white supremacist who turned his life around. How did it happen?
Christian grew up in a small Italian neighborhood of Chicago called Blue Island. He was a good kid from a hard-working Italian immigrant family until one day he met the most dangerous man in America, and then everything changed.
"I didn’t come from a broken home. My parents weren’t drug addicts. They weren’t alcoholics. There really was no reason for me to join a gang. You know, those are typical reasons why people join something like that," Christian said. "I’m a first-generation American. My parents were immigrants from Italy, so when they came to this country in the 60s, they were chasing the American dream. They were working," Christian said.
"So, I was this lonely kid who was picked on because, you know, I didn’t really fit in in the upper-middle-class neighborhood where my parents decided to move us to, because I was in Italian kid. You know, my grandparents raised me because my parents were off working, so in the Italian neighborhood where I grew up and where I went after school, the kids in that neighborhood didn’t really want anything to do with me either because I didn’t really go to school with them," he continued.
"I was lonely. I was picked on, and when I first met Clark Martel, who is the individual who got me involved in the racist skinhead movement...I was smoking a joint with a stoner kid that I met from down the block, and like a scene out of a movie, this car comes, ’69 Firebird comes roaring down the alley kicking up dust and gravel, you know? The car stopped six inches from us, and this guy gets out, and like a lead actor on the stage, he walks across the headlights, and he looks at me. He gets close, and I remember his beady, really worn eyes looking into mine," he said.
"He snatches the joint out of my mouth, and the first thing he says to me, and I’ll never forget it, Glenn, is 'Don’t you know that that’s what the capitalists and the Communists want you to do to keep you docile?' I was 14 years old. I didn’t know what a capitalist was. I didn’t know what a Communist was. I didn’t even know what the word docile meant, but from that moment on, I was really, you know, entranced with this guy, because for the first time in my life, somebody gave me a real reason not to do what I was doing, right?"
"It wasn’t just don’t smoke that joint or don’t smoke pot because it’s against the law, and you’re not supposed to do that. I was given a real reason. Now, I didn’t understand the reason because I didn’t understand politics at that age, but it gave me something to think about," Christian said.
From that fateful day in 1987 until he hit bottom in 1995, Christian was one of the leaders of America's most violent neo-Nazi hate groups.
How did it start to turn around? What was his pivot point?
"I got married at 19 years old, and I had my first child at 19 years old. Then I had my second child at 21. I had a hard time reconciling the hate that I had for the rest of the world and the love that I had for my family. Our mantra, our 14 words, our mission statement that we lived by was “We must secure the existence of our people and the future for white children.” When I went to protect my children from the very same people that I was in bed with, I couldn’t reconcile my hate anymore, so that was the first spark," Christian said.
"I also opened a record store at the same time to sell this white power music that got me involved into the movement, because that’s what these groups use is they really prey on young people and find ways to reach them. Music was the best propaganda to reach white youth. So, I started to meet all these people who I had no time for in the past. I started to meet Jewish people, and I started to meet gay people, and I started to meet Hispanics," he continued.
"And trying to be a good business person like my parents were, I opened myself up to them, and unwittingly I became friendly with them, not because I wanted to be a good business person, but because they really touched me, and they touched my heart. They showed me compassion when I was the person on the earth who least deserved it at the time."
Glenn pointed out that it was love that really turned things around.
"I’m telling you, I think love, just being human to one another, is the biggest wall breaker," Glenn said.
"It’s the best weapon we have," Christian said.