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American History Essay

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil” was a wise phase once uttered by Hannah Arendt. I love this quote because is perfectly describes the two boys from “American History X,” Danny and Derek. These two boys have seen and done it all when it comes to hate groups, as both were members of a neo-nazi hate group. Neo- Nazi hate groups use authoritarian, scapegoat, normative, and exploitation theories to justify their hate, discrimination, and torture of anyone who isn’t a part of the “supreme race,” or white. Boy Danny and Derek end up in this life from an early age. Parents are one of the biggest, if not the biggest influence on a child’s life. When Danny and Derek were both relatively young they looked up to their father, thought of him as the “ideal” man. However their father was a racist, influencing almost every thought the boys had. At family dinner when talking about about a black school teacher their father said, “It’s nigger bullshit,” and warned Derek not to buy into the equality teachings.

Because Danny and Derek both looked up to their dad so much, this would be and example of the exploitation theory. Exploitation theory is when one societal group, in this case whites, use hostility to keep their position and power intact. This really come into play after Danny and Derek’s father was murdered and Derek believes it was a race related killing. Right after their father died, Derek joined a neo-nazi hate group known as the DOC(Disciples of Christ). Being extreme believers in the white supremacy movement, the DOC acted out with violence and extreme hatred toward any other race, especially blacks. Derek, being a high ranking member, murdered 2 black men for the cause. He served three years for the murders, which impacted his whole family tremendously.

At the beginning of Derek’s sentence he did not want any visitors, claiming it would be to hard to see his family. He made friends with other neo-nazi members in prison, but soon started realizing that they were not serious about the cause like he was. He also started becoming friends with his black work partner who said, “I ain’t the nigger in here, you are” Derek started realizing that white supremacy what basically just a scapegoat. Meaning that the followers of the movement were just trying to find someone to blame for their problems, which in this case happened to be the blacks. After befriending his black work mate he realized that blacks are human too.

Once he could recognize blacks as human he finally felt guilt for killing to people, not niggers, people. Derek was determined to help his brother and family by getting them out of the gangs and hate. One of the biggest influences on Derek while in jail was his principal from high school. He was a black man with experience in dealing with “troubled youth.” He gave Derek the push he needed by saying, “Has anything you’ve done made your life better?”. Later Derek told Danny, “It’s just because I was pissed off”. I think this was Derek’s way of responding to his principal, he really didn’t believe in the cause it was more of just an outlet for his anger that his father would have approved of. While Derek is locked up.


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