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Shedding The Hate

After the last post, I feel I owe you a feelgood story.

This one won’t disappoint you.

The tattoos that covered a man’s face show the hate that was once in his heart.

Bryon Widner was one of America’s most violent and well known white supremacists, and his heavily-tattooed face displayed it proudly.

But after shunning his racist beliefs, he was still unable to get work because of his facial scarring, and went through a long and complicated journey to have the tattoos removed, in the hope of starting his life anew.

After 25 surgeries over 16 months, Mr Widner’s past has now disappeared from view, leaving him a happy father and employed member of society.

It wasn’t always that way, and during one of his darkest periods of despair, his wife Julie was terrified — afraid her husband would do something reckless, even disfigure himself.

‘We had come so far,’ she says. ‘We had left the movement, had created a good family life. We had so much to live for. I just thought there has to be someone out there who will help us.’

After getting married in 2006, the couple, former pillars of the white power movement (she as a member of the National Alliance, he a founder of the Vinlanders gang of skinheads) had worked hard to put their racist past behind them. They had settled down and had a baby; her younger children had embraced Widner as a father.

And yet, the past was ever-present — tattooed in brutish symbols all over his body and face: a blood-soaked razor, swastikas, the letters ‘HATE’ stamped across his knuckles.

Wherever he turned Mr Widner was shunned — on job sites, in stores and restaurants. People saw a menacing thug, not a loving father. He felt like an utter failure.
The couple had scoured the Internet trying to learn how to remove the facial tattoos safely. But extensive facial tattoos are extremely rare, and few doctors have performed such complicated surgery.

Besides, they couldn’t afford it. They had little money and no health insurance.

So Mr Widner began investigating homemade recipes, looking at dermal acids and other solutions. He reached the point, he said, where ‘I was totally prepared to douse my face in acid.’

In desperation, Julie did something that once would have been unimaginable. She reached out to a black man whom white supremacists consider their sworn enemy.

Read the whole thing.

Update: Byron speaks:

Update: More here:

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Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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