Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
December 12, 2016

Meet the Racists!

Matthew Heimbach, who runs the Traditionalist Worker Party, at home in Paoli, Ind., with his son and wife. His group advocates replacing the United States with nation-states based on ethnicity and religion. Credit Ty Wright for The New York Times

At what point, I wanted to ask, would you consider it your moral duty to break from the settled routines of “fairness” and “objectivity”—gotta hear both sides!—to inform your audience that what was going on was not normal?  

— from The Rush To Normalize Trump — Rick Perlstein, In These Times 

Out with the burning crosses, in with the lawn signs?

Scanning the story, “An Alt-Right Makeover Shrouds the Swastikas” fronting the NY Times yesterday, the article states that the neo-Nazi and white power movement has rebranded, gone mainstream, gotten slicker and savvier. Shying away from the traditional display of swastikas or Nazi salutes, we’re told white nationalism has ascended, instead, by way of khakis, business suits and the venomous campaign and Electoral College victory of Donald Trump.

So, two questions. If opacity is the new signature of white nationalism, why is The Times playing along? If these racists are trying to mask outward signs of hatred (as one subject states, it’s “bad for the brand”), it seems the profiles and photographs in the story make for the kind of advertising you just can’t buy.

Jared Taylor, the editor of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, walking his daughter to the bus stop in Oakton, Va. Credit Greg Kahn for The New York Times

Of course, The Times would only see these photos as ironic, maybe even “gotchas.” There is the white nationalist publisher walking his daughter to the bus stop, or the white supremacist as one more guy stringing Christmas lights.

Gerald Martin, a retired teacher, decorating his home in Dallas last week for Christmas. Mr. Martin said President-elect Donald J. Trump’s ascent had “politically energized” the alt-right. Credit Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times

If  the point of the photos is to capture these people looking “just like everyone else,” however, that’s exactly the hater’s aim.

Second, why is The Times rewarding these people with a platform in the first place — especially as Trump has proved so effective in pulling the wool over people’s eyes? Why afford them such consideration? Ultimately, The Times and the haters end up doing the same thing: mainstreaming hate by casting it in a softer light.

(photo 1: Ty Wright for The New York Times. caption: Matthew Heimbach, who runs the Traditionalist Worker Party, at home in Paoli, Ind., with his son and wife. His group advocates replacing the United States with nation-states based on ethnicity and religion. photo 2: Greg Kahn for The New York Times. captionJared Taylor, the editor of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, walking his daughter to the bus stop in Oakton, Va. photo 3: Brandon Thibodeaux for The New York Times. caption: Gerald Martin, a retired teacher, decorating his home in Dallas last week for Christmas. Mr. Martin said President-elect Donald J. Trump’s ascent had “politically energized” the alt-right.)

 

 

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