Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Reaction to NY Times Help Us See Where Nazis Come From

New York Times and Reaction to It Help Us See Where Nazis Come From
By David Swanson

“Imagine being so bad at drumming that you become a Nazi,” someone tweeted in response to the recent and scandalous New York Times’ article about an Ohio Nazi. “Or at painting,” I replied.

That part of the explanation of where Nazis come from is not new.

What’s newest about the article is the reaction to it: a flood of outrage filling my social media and email, including demands that Nazis not be “humanized” or “normalized,” and insistence that they be simply condemned, ignored, cursed at, or violently attacked.

There’s a new level here of willful ignorance, of required demonizing, of advocacy for cartoonish views of the world. Across our culture from left to right, people have been taught that those who do horrible things were born and will die horrible monsters. For some, these horrible monsters include Iraqis or North Koreans or Muslims. For others they include child molesters or sexual harassers or racists. For some they include Jews, Blacks, or liberals. With everyone a self-identified public relations expert, many insist, if not on holding such childishly stupid views themselves, on trying to ensure that others hold them.

By default, human beings identified by any other word as being in any way different from oneself are considered to be in need of “humanizing.” This process is one that people believe should be performed selectively as desired. Victims of discrimination or maybe even of bombing should be humanized. Hateful fascists should not be. The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League says the New York Times has “humanized the inhumane.”

Here’s a tweet from @bessbell: “Get ready to read a fucking sentence. It’s a sentence about a Nazi. Are you ready? Lay the fuck down. Here goes. Quick reminder: It’s about a fucking Nazi. A Nazi. Nazi. It’s a sentence about a Nazi. ‘In person, his Midwestern manners would please anyone’s mother.'”

Let’s try that sentence with one word changed: “Get ready to read a fucking sentence. It’s a sentence about a Jew. Are you ready? Lay the fuck down. Here goes. Quick reminder: It’s about a fucking Jew. A Jew. Jew. It’s a sentence about a Jew. ‘In person, his Midwestern manners would please anyone’s mother.'”

The comparison, I wish it were unnecessary to say, is not between a Nazi and a Jew, between support for genocide and just belonging to some group of people. The comparison is between insisting that someone’s pleasing Midwestern manners go unmentioned and insisting that someone’s pleasing Midwestern manners go unmentioned. Unmentioned, unthought, and unbelieved in. Thou shalt not believe that a Nazi can have nice manners — or at least thou shalt not believe that other people can learn about the Nazi’s nice manners without becoming Nazis.

Bill Maher was not being the bigot he sometimes has been when he was fired for saying that flying an airplane into a building is not cowardly. That was not a comment on the evil of the act, only on the question of cowardice. But the simple fact that suicide or “sacrificing one’s life” for a cause is often treated as the opposite of cowardice was inadmissible information. Not to be thought.

Many in high dudgeon over the New York Times reporting that a Nazi has a name and likes particular television shows and so forth insist that of course they already knew that such things could be reported, they just didn’t want them to be. But how much have they thought about the fact that these Nazis hold their Nazi beliefs simultaneously with a typical package of U.S. pop-cultural tastes and preferences and a U.S. military childhood, that their taste in racist books runs to the respectable U.S. mainstream, or that they make excuses for and distort the history of Hitler in order to make him a hero exactly as others do for their chosen heroes. How many have considered exactly how close a lot of these Nazis have been to not becoming Nazis, or to ceasing to be Nazis? Isn’t that why it matters so much that someone like Donald Trump encourages them, because the result is more Nazis, not just emboldened Nazis? Don’t we want to know how they think and what they want, including whether they want to deny genocide or whether they want to commit it?

That many U.S. Nazis offer very similar arguments for their beliefs ought to be of great interest to anyone who wants to reduce and eliminate Nazism. When someone claims to have gone extreme because there’s no room to be moderate, they may not be describing the world we see, but they certainly are indicating a belief that nobody has listened to what they have to say. When someone opposes affirmative action and “malice directed toward white people” in popular media, they may lack historical understanding, empathy, and perspicacity, but they certainly are answering the “why do they hate us” question as clearly as they know how. Choosing not to hear, opting to feign bewilderment or to dismiss Nazism as the result of “there being bad people in the world” is a victory for the cause of idiocy shared with the Nazis.

While I’d prefer on balance that the New York Times cease to exist, I’m on the side of publishing any information that could be helpful in the cause of understanding and improving the world.


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Help support,, and by clicking here:


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell On Labour’s Timidity:

What an odd post-Cabinet press conference that was yesterday, from PM Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Prevailing Media Narratives About The Govt Coalition

The media reports the facts…. but that’s not the end of it, and nor should it be. It also marshals those facts and creates a story from them, usually one with a moral that’s implied or explicit. After six months though, it is still unclear just what the dominant media narrative is of the coalition government. Is it Idealistic But Impractical? Is its Heart in the Right Place, but is it Taking On Too Much? Is the coalition proving to be Fractious And Unstable, or is it Surprisingly Adept at Keeping Its Inherent Rifts Out of the Public Eye? More>>

RNZ Explainer: Why You Should Care About Cambridge Analytica

Facebook's shares have lost billions of dollars in value after something to do with data used by Cambridge Analytica. Confused? Here's what it means, and what could come next...More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The (Looming) Nurses’ Strike

It is (almost) possible to feel a bit sorry for the DHB negotiators engaged in the current nurses pay round. Come next Monday there’s every sign that nurses will resoundingly reject the pay offer the DHBs have put on the table, as being totally inadequate...More>>

Gordon Campbell: On A Trade War With China

As things currently stand, the White House has NOT included New Zealand on its list of allies whose steel and aluminium exports to the US will be exempted from US President Donald Trump’s recent hike in tariffs. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Credibility In Politics

Credibility is always such a fickle, unstable element in politics. You know it when you see it, though. More>>

Video And Report: Cory Doctorow Talks Machine Learning And Big Data

International internet and digital technology commentator Cory Doctorow talked about machine learning and big data at the Privacy Commissioner’s PrivacyLive event on 13 March 2018 in Wellington. More>>