The New York Times is considered an upright newspaper though it quite often works overtime to undo its reputation. For their unconventional profile last week of a Neo-Nazi, they received some well-earned criticism from across the entire spectrum of politics and humanity.
The honorable person they chose to profile was Tony Hovater from Ohio. He is 29 years old and he and his wife are ‘so normal’. They prepared for their wedding and they both love pasta. ‘Tony is well mannered and quiet with manners that would make any mother in law happy’. Alongside this description of someone who seems so ‘perfectly normal’ we get to hear Tony’s opinions: “The Jews control the business world and the media and the work only to promote their interests”… “Hitler was a man who truly believed in his aims and believed in waging war for his nation and did what he thought was the right thing to do.” Kudos to Hitler! We should salute him… of course with a Nazi salute!
The New York Times also discussed Tony’s posts to Facebook. A recent post was a picture describing what the world would look like had Germany won the war: A street full of white happy people with Nazi crosses everywhere with a caption “What’s not attractive here?”
Perhaps the Times wanted to discuss the troubling growing phenomenon of Neo-Nazis in America but every critic of the article felt that discussion was absent in the article. There was nothing newsworthy nor was there any explanation why Hovater came to adapt the Neo-Nazi ideology as his own or how to prevent people from becoming extreme. The only thing the article did was to show someone with extreme and dangerous views in a positive light normalizing him. He could be a nice, normal smiley American young man who only has some questionable views. (Of course Hovater believes that the number 6,000,000 Jews is a gross exaggeration…)
One letter of an angry reader sums up everyone’s frustration with the article: “Dear Editor, As an Asian Doctor living deep in the south another ‘quiet neo-Nazi’ recently attacked me in a parking lot. Please don’t turn the belief in White Supremacy into something normal.”
The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) which fights against Anti-Semitism also protested the article: “It’s critical that when covering professional haters the press should stop treating the abnormal as normal and humanize the inhuman… by this yard stick after the New York Times article the score is Nazis 1 the public 0.”