From The Washington Post:
By Erik Wemple | November 27, 2017 | 11:10 AM
The New York Times over the weekend published a nicely turned satire — “Choose Your Own Public Apology” — lampooning the men who’ve attempted to make amends for their histories of sexual harassment. In the same time frame, the newspaper’s leadership was figuring out how best to phrase its own regret over a profile of 29-year-old Ohio white nationalist Tony Hovater, whom reporter Richard Fausset depicted as a run-of-the-mill guy with some extreme viewpoints.
“We regret the degree to which the piece offended so many readers,” New York Times national editor Marc Lacey wrote in a carefully drafted response to the social-media backlash against the Hovater profile. “We recognize that people can disagree on how best to tell a disagreeable story. What we think is indisputable, though, is the need to shed more light, not less, on the most extreme corners of American life and the people who inhabit them. That’s what the story, however imperfectly, tried to do.”
As this blog noted Sunday, there was a lot of backlash, with some high points duly credited by Lacey’s post. “We described Mr. Hovater as a bigot, a Nazi sympathizer who posted images on Facebook of a Nazi-like America full of happy white people and swastikas everywhere,” Lacey writes. “We understand that some readers wanted more pushback, and we hear that loud and clear.”
There’s more at the original. I had missed the Times article, because while I subscribe to the Post, and therefore get unlimited articles, I don’t subscribe to the Times, thus getting only ten free articles a month. Here’s the Times original:
By Richard Fausset | November 25, 2017This article has drawn significant feedback, most of it sharply critical. Read a response from The Times’s national editor here. And the reporter offers his thoughts on covering white nationalists here.
HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Tony and Maria Hovater were married this fall. They registered at Target. On their list was a muffin pan, a four-drawer dresser and a pineapple slicer.
Ms. Hovater, 25, was worried about Antifa bashing up the ceremony. Weddings are hard enough to plan for when your fiancé is not an avowed white nationalist.
But Mr. Hovater, in the days leading up to the wedding, was somewhat less anxious. There are times when it can feel toxic to openly identify as a far-right extremist in the Ohio of 2017. But not always. He said the election of President Trump helped open a space for people like him, demonstrating that it is not the end of the world to be attacked as the bigot he surely is: “You can just say, ‘Yeah, so?’ And move on.”
It was a weeknight at Applebee’s in Huber Heights, a suburb of Dayton, a few weeks before the wedding. The couple, who live in nearby New Carlisle, were shoulder to shoulder at a table, young and in love. He was in a plain T-shirt, she in a sleeveless jean jacket. She ordered the boneless wings. Her parents had met him, she said, and approved of the match. The wedding would be small. Some of her best friends were going to be there. “A lot of girls are not really into politics,” she said.
There’s much more at the original, but you can see where this is going: the article depicts Mr Hovater as just another ordinary human being.
Though the photo shows the Hovater home as quite modest, with the grass mowed but untrimmed at the edges, and in need of being pressure washed under the porch, a second photo depicts the corner of a neat bookshelf — with what appears to be a long-haired silver tabby standing on top — with the incriminating book titles showing, including:
- William L Shirer: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
- David Irving: The War Path
- Edward Gibson: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Abridged)
- Thomas Goodrich: Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany
Mr. Hovater, 29, is a welder by trade. He is not a star among the resurgent radical American right so much as a committed foot soldier — an organizer, an occasional podcast guest on a website called Radio Aryan, and a self-described “social media villain,” although, in person, his Midwestern manners would please anyone’s mother. In 2015, he helped start the Traditionalist Worker Party, one of the extreme right-wing groups that marched in Charlottesville, Va., in August, and again at a “White Lives Matter” rally last month in Tennessee. The group’s stated mission is to “fight for the interests of White Americans.”
A third photo depicts Mr Hovater pushing a cart in the grocery store, just like any normal American, and they didn’t even show him looking at red meat, but surprisingly multiculturally, in the Asian foods aisle, with Mexican food (tortilla wraps) in the cart. The photo caption said, “Mr. Hovater and others in the loosely defined alt-right movement are hoping to make their ideas less than shocking, even normal.”
What the Times readers apparently find appalling is that the article fails to depict Mr Hovater with his horns and cloven hooves. Why, they made him sound like a living human being!
Which is, of course, the truth. The left have become so invested in their caricatures of the ‘alt-right’ — a term under which they include Donald Trump — as being some sort of non-human monsters straight out of Hell that showing a ‘white nationalist’1 as the working-class guy next door is not just unsettling but an affront to their ideas.
But that, of course, is the underlying problem. As the left try to depict all conservatives as secret, and not-so-secret, Nazis they are forgetting that it was the real Nazis who declared some people — Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, blacks and Slavs — as not really human. It was that characterization which enabled many good, Christian Germans to participate in the Holocaust, to be willing to do Heinrich Himmler’s dirty work, in rounding up the Jews, shipping them to concentration camps, and dropping those canisters of Zyklon B into the gas chambers. The innumerable comments on social media in which people declare that they wish certain people were dead indicate that the writers of those comments are really able to see the recipients of their ire as something other than human, something lower, something disposable, just as der Führer saw those who weren’t ‘Aryan.’
At the very least, the left, who claim to be so very much smarter and more educated than us rednecked rubes, ought to see an article like that in the Times as educational. Instead, it challenges their pre-conceived notions about whom the alt-right are, and that attacks their entire mindset. If Mr Hovater is just another working man wearing jeans and t-shirts, then he isn’t the jackbooted Sturmabteilung of the left’s vivid imaginations . . . and propaganda.
The right have not been innocent of dehumanizing their opponents by any means, though they do seem, at least to me, to not have gone quite as overboard as the left have in recent years.
In the end, we are all related to everybody else. We’re all human, the ‘alt-right’ just as much as the Antifa.
- Mr Hovater describes himself as a white nationalist, but not a white supremacist. ↩