There's a reason Hollywood has made so many movies about WWII, and many more films about this conflict than any other war in our history.
Total Good versus complete evil is a concept that only truly exists in fiction, not in real life, but of all the wars that the United States of America has fought, World War 2 is the one where we really were "the good guys" and our foes were "the bad guys."
Atrocities are committed in every war, some bad people in every militia, but overall, the point remains clear - Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were the bad guys. Period.
It's amazing that today, in 2017, publicly deriding Nazis as bad is considered a bold political statement to make.
I guess all those WWII movies we grew up with, where Hitler and his henchmen were the villains, didn't make too much of a lasting impression on many Americans, because the Alt-Right movement contains tens of thousands of members, estimates claim.
When Hollywood wasn't making German Nazis the villains in action movies, the Communist Russians filled in as their understudies. This lasted for a few decades, during the Cold War; but once Rocky Balboa beat Ivan Drago in the Soviet Union on Christmas, well the Red Army was finished.
It's too bad the studio system couldn't find a way to make more movies with East Germans as the villains, because they were only the group on this Earth that was both German and Communist, the perfect combination for a cartoonish action film.
Again though, the vilification of the Russians didn't seem to really stay etched in the brain of many Americans, because there are very large segments of our population who simply won't believe that Russia Gate is actually a thing.
They also believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin, a calculating, cold-blooded killer who was part of the ruthless Soviet KGB, is essentially good people.
Kind of like how President Donald Trump said that the men marching in Charlottesville, at an Alt-Right rally chanting the Nazis slogans "blood and soil" as well as "Jews will not replace us" included and this is a verbatim quote "some very fine people."
Hatred and intolerance are not legitimate political positions. Believing that there is such a thing as a master race, with all other races subhuman and subordinate, as Nazis do, makes them bad people. There is no grey area here. It's really depressing that we literally have to hold rallies to declare that Nazis are bad these days.
While Nazis, and all other hate groups do have rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, they have no rights to hatespeech, threatening speech and violent assembly.
They certainly have no right to having their speech mainstreamed, brought into the conventional political arena and thus normalized.
If there are tens of thousands of Alt-Right movement Nazis out there, as Marilyn Mayo, senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, estimated to the New York Times, in the controversial article "A Voice of Hate in America's Heartland," then it's an extremely tiny segment of the population. Yet mainstream media outlets choose to give this fringe a megaphone to amplify their message anyway.
Nazi leader Richard Spencer should not be someone who's very well known to everybody who's a current events and news junkie.
What the NYT was trying to accomplish in their profile feature story on Tony Hovater, white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer, was probably well intentioned.
They wanted to show us the banality of a white supremacist, to make us aware that they are as average and middle-American as can be, and thus we need to be on our guard about how they exist within the commonplace. Look they have four cats in their house and eat at working/middle class corporate chain restaurants! The end result though came off as pretty much The Atlantic's hilariously brilliant parody of it, "Nazis Are Just Like You and Me, Except They're Nazis."
The Times got so much pushback on the piece, and deservedly so, that its author Richard Fausset had to publish an explanation, and point out where he failed.
Additionally, a National Editor, Marc Lacey, had to justify why they created and published the piece. I don't disagree with their journalistic ideals, and I do believe their ultimate goals here had merit. However, the end result was a disaster- it did in fact normalize an individual who holds intolerant, bigoted views.
The Times may claim otherwise, but this is how the piece actually came off. The end result was actually not much deeper nor more nuanced than all the WWII and action movies we discussed at the beginning. This despite the fact that it's a first rate newspaper, with an elite reporter doing meticulous work.
It was just as shallow and cartoonish, except here the Nazis are depicted as typical sitcom character "normies," instead of two-dimensionally evil. Once you humanize hate-mongers, the next step is to paint a picture that's sympathetic to them.
Then it's a slippery slope to portraying Nazis as they're depicted in "Springtime for Hitler," Mel Brooks' intentionally as offensive as possible faux-musical within his 1968 classic "The Producers."
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune corporation blogging community Chicago Now.
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