November 25, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
A week after this post originally appeared, I thought it was important enough to convert it into a “Best” list and added more links at the bottom to important commentaries on the article
The New York Times today published a profile of a Nazi living in the United States today that portrayed him as typical guy who just happened to have white supremacist views.
The article was originally headlined “In America’s Heartland, The Nazi Sympathizer Next Door” and then was changed in the online version to “A Voice of Hate In America’s Heartland” (see tweet below). I’m assuming an editor made that change in a welcome, but feeble, attempt to communicate in the headline what the article should have, but did not, communicate.
The article clearly demonstrates what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil” (see Quote Of The Day: Hannah Arendt & The Origin Of Evil and Video: “Hannah Arendt” — The Movie (& The Importance Of Reflection).
What it does not do, and which makes it shocking that it made it into the Times, is that it does not name it as evil. It’s a simple profile that makes it seem normal, does not include any discussion of its dangers, shares no critical voices, does not talk about how it should be confronted.
For an alternative model of how to do a profile of a Nazi, see The Atlantic’s article, The Making of an American Nazi.
I’m thinking about how I can use both articles, or portions of each, in my IB Theory of Knowledge class. All ideas are welcome.
(Boy, The Atlantic is fast! Three hours after The Times story was published, they came out with a parody)
This Twitter “thread,” which you can see by clicking on the tweet itself, is a great commentary on the article: