A recent New York Times story has upset many readers who feel it offers a positive portrayal of neo-Nazism. We finished reading “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland” with more pity for its subject than contempt, but we see where many readers were offended. Our perspective is that the portrait of Tony Hovater’s life in suburban Ohio presented a pathetic little man with a middling career and a trashy rental home.
Adhering to the Times‘ long tradition, the story refers to him as Mr. Hovater although it seems unlikely that anyone else, aside from maybe a parole officer, has ever addressed him with such respect. Our impression of the story was that author Richard Faussett wanted to alarm his audience with the apparent normal-ness of his subject, and this intention was misunderstood by readers. Faussett’s error was in assuming Americans’ deeply held distaste for fascists and Nazis would suffice, and his story doesn’t take issue with some of Mr. Hovater’s most un-endearing qualities, like his fear that Antifa would “bash up” his wedding. Of course this didn’t happen bercause — this is important — he is not important. Anyone stupid enough to have a Twin Peaks tattoo is not worthy of the New York Times‘ ink nor the readers’ time.
The New York Times story makes passing reference to Mr. Hovater’s past performance with a metal band, but doesn’t offer up its name. This implies he had some sort of actual career, instead of a brief stint drumming for a band which, by any definition, meets any metalheads standard of sucking. Perhaps if press covering metal music were more willing to call out boy band trash we’d have a better sense of Mr. Hovater’s contributions to society prior to the Times story.
We’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to look into his musical career and join the cacophony of criticism. Instead of linking to his former band’s hilariously lame Youtube videos, we’ll offer a quote from one of the books seen on Mr. Hovater’s shelf. Journalist William Shirer famously wrote in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich that “the cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it,” and this is sound advice still today. Let’s put out differences aside and agree that as Americans we all loathe Nazism, fascism and racism. And while we’re at it white supremacist heavy metal sucks.