TONY HOVATOR. JUST A NORMAL GUY AWAKENED TO THE TRUTH THAT DEMOCRACY DOESN’T WORK.
The New York Times has published an article featuring a White Nationalist young man, the very articulate Tony Hovater, whose life is boringly normal. While he has no dog, he does have cats and a new bride, who shares his belief in White Nationalism.
On the surface, the Times paints a sympathetic picture of Tony. But I’m willing to bet that the cues in the article would leave most white people thinking of Tony as a loser. By that psyop, the Times surely hopes to discourage others in his generation from joining the movement.
I’ve taken the 2,400 word article and condensed it to 1,600 words. I’ve also omitted two of the pictures from this condensation. A reminder: The NY Times allows you to read 10 free articles a month. After that you hit a paywall.
New York Times
HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio —
In Ohio, amid the row crops and rolling hills, the Olive Gardens and Steak ’n Shakes, Mr. Hovater’s presence can make hardly a ripple. He is the Nazi sympathizer next door, polite and low-key at a time the old boundaries of accepted political activity can seem alarmingly in flux. Most Americans would be disgusted and baffled by his casually approving remarks about Hitler, disdain for democracy and belief that the races are better off separate. But his tattoos are innocuous pop-culture references: a slice of cherry pie adorns one arm, a homage to the TV show “Twin Peaks.” He says he prefers to spread the gospel of white nationalism with satire. He is a big “Seinfeld” fan.
“I guess it seems weird when talking about these type of things,” he says. “You know, I’m coming at it in a mid-90s, Jewish, New York, observational-humor way.”
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.’’
Its leaders claim to oppose racism, though the Anti-Defamation League says the group “has participated in white supremacist events all over the country.” On its website, a swastika armband goes for $20.
If the Charlottesville rally came as a shock, with hundreds of white Americans marching in support of ideologies many have long considered too vile, dangerous or stupid to enter the political mainstream, it obscured the fact that some in the small, loosely defined alt-right movement are hoping to make those ideas seem less than shocking for the “normies,” or normal people, that its sympathizers have tended to mock online.
And to go from mocking to wooing, the movement will be looking to make use of people like the Hovaters and their trappings of normie life — their fondness for National Public Radio, their four cats, their bridal registry.
“We need to have more families. We need to be able to just be normal,” said Matthew Heimbach, the leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, in a podcast conversation with Mr. Hovater. Why, he asked self-mockingly, were so many followers “abnormal”?
Mr. Hovater replied: “I mean honestly, it takes people with, like, sort of an odd view of life, at first, to come this way. Because most people are pacified really easy, you know. Like, here’s some money, here’s a nice TV, go watch your sports, you know?”
He added: “The fact that we’re seeing more and more normal people come is because things have gotten so bad. And if they keep getting worse, we’ll keep getting more, just, normal people.”