What the New York Times’ Nazi Story Left OutBreaking News
tags: racism, Nazi, Charlottesville, Confederate Monuments, white nationalist, white supremacist, NeoNazi
The conceit of “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland,” the New York Times’ profile of Tony Hovater—a neo-Nazi who helped start the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist group—is that there’s something incongruent in Hovater’s ordinary Midwestern life and his virulently racist and anti-Semitic beliefs. "Why did this man—intelligent, socially adroit and raised middle class amid the relatively well-integrated environments of United States military bases—gravitate toward the furthest extremes of American political discourse?” asks the writer, Richard Fausset, in a subsequent piece explaining the editorial decisions behind the story and reflecting on his conversations with Hovater.
Hovater’s extremism may demand some additional explanation, but there’s nothing novel about virulent white racism existing in banal environments. That, in fact, is what it means to live in a society structured by racism and racist attitudes. The sensational nature of Hovater’s identification with Nazi Germany obscures the ordinariness of his racism. White supremacy is a hegemonic ideology in the United States. It exists everywhere, in varying forms, ranging from passive beliefs in black racial inferiority to the extremist ideology we see in groups like the League of the South.
A look back to the past is instructive. In 1921, one of the deadliest anti-black riots in American history occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A mob of white men, eager for retribution after the alleged assault of a young white woman, descended on the city’s prosperous Greenwood neighborhood, dubbed the "Black Wall Street" by admirers. Armed with pistols, rifles, and a machine gun—as well as a plane equipped with rudimentary bombs—this makeshift army burned Greenwood to the ground, killing hundreds in the process. We don't know who gave order to the mob, organizing and amplifying its lethality, but we can identify the men who participated.
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