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The New York Times profiles an American Nazi

by Kristina Livingston - Executive Editor
Wed, Dec 6th 2017 11:00 am
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There are endless profile pieces out there that the reporter later regrets for any number of reasons, but perhaps none for many days to come will be as comment thread-generating as the recent profile of literal Nazi Tony Hovater. Boy oh boy, is this going to be a fun one.

Folks are voicing their displeasure at The New York Times’ strange humanization of Hovater, a task writer Richard Fausset took it upon himself to express in hundreds upon hundreds of words (I could give you the exact word count if their online site allowed one to copy/paste).

Never have I been so appalled while simultaneously fighting back laughter at the outrageous sentences I was forced to read. In this article, I’ll divert from the norm of citing an article in order to provide substance and rather to take you all on this journey with me.

I now know a Nazi’s favorite restaurants, TV shows , bands and more – frivolous details paired with images of Hovater doing everyday tasks, such as shopping in the grocery store and dissociating on his front lawn. I know all about his wedding plans, and his fiancé’s fears of it being crashed by big bad Antifa.

Alright, pause. This is cute and all, the Nazi-sympathizing, but where did the days go when someone could pose the question, “are Nazis bad?” and someone would answer immediately and indefinitely, “yes”. Really, I’m speechless. There was no reason to publish this – ‘we have to hear both sides’ – no, my friend. This isn’t that – and even then, no, we don’t need to. I would argue we need to hear perhaps a little less. The publication of this piece gave a Nazi a platform, as if the far-right needs another one. 

The article wasn’t all nonsense – thank god we as readers get to hear it first. Nazis just join Nazi organizations because public discourse has “become so toxic that there’s no way to effectively lobby for interests that involve white people,” Hovater said, according to The New York Times. It’s a waste of time to wonder how people like this sleep at night.

“He is adamant that the races are probably better off separated, but he insists he is not racist. He is a white nationalist, he says, not a white supremacist. There were mixed-race couples at the wedding. Mr. Hovater said he was fine with it,” the article states.

Dude … what? 

Later in the article, Hovater is referred to as “the Nazi sympathizer next door.” What drove me off the edge was an excerpt from an essay he once wrote.

“At this rate I’m sure the presidential candidate they’ll put up in a few cycles will be an overweight, black  crippled dyke with dyslexia.” 

The Nazi coming in from left-field with homophobia, ableism and fatphobia in one strong little swing. But, like, he’s just your neighbor next door. Your nice friendly neighbor who would prefer you were separated from the part of society he just happens to believe is superior. 

Why is a respected news source like The New York Times losing sight of sanity? I can’t quite pinpoint the goal here. Do respectable journalists have any business lending a voice to a people responsible for killing over six million people? Apparently that’s the point we’re at. 

The New York Times since responded to the flood of backlash the profile received from readers, titling the second piece, “Readers accuse us of normalizing a Nazi sympathizer; we respond.” Buddy, pal, my friend. You sure did. 

It is sure to happen again, and I’m honestly not surprised. The “we have to hear both sides even if one of the sides is based in genocide and pure evil” ideal has always stuck around. Even if a piece has the potential to contribute to the following of white nationalism, apparently we have to project it into the readersphere. 

Come on, The New York Times; you even gave readers a suggestion of where you can buy affordable Nazi armbands. 


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