We don’t know why journalists and writers keep gushing about how “dapper” and “well-dressed” white supremacists are, but we wish they would stop.
It sounds absurd, but a lot of major media outlets have run pieces praising white supremacists and neo-Nazis for their fashion sense.
These aren’t right-wing fringe rags, either. These are mainstream publications, some of them liberal.
Mother Jones wrote a flattering profile of white nationalist “alt-right” (i.e. neo-Nazi) leader Richard Spencer. The headline praised his poise and fashion sense, calling him “dapper”:
The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times also wrote flattering profiles of Spencer. Their headlines and photos almost made him look like some kind of quirky curiosity instead of a loathsome neo-Nazi who once asked, “Does human civilization really need the black race?”
CNN ran a story about a different white nationalist, this one Austrian. They called him “trendy” and a “hipster”:
More recently, the New York Post wrote an appalling article about a white supremacist who stabbed a 66-year-old black man to death. The headline referred to the assailant as a “well-dressed suspect,” praising the fashion sense of a man who came to New York City specifically to kill black people. The Post went on to refer to killer James Harris Jackson as “sharp-dressed.” The article also took pains to point out that the victim, who had been minding his own business when Jackson ran up to him and stabbed him with a sword, had been arrested in the past.
What’s wrong with praising a white supremacist’s fashion sense, besides the obvious?
Beyond “this is terrible and you are terrible for doing this,” there are some specific reasons why the media really should stop writing about how damn sexy and stylish they think neo-Nazis are.
It’s a useful recruitment tool for white supremacists.
If you write article after article about cool, well-dressed white supremacists, you’re going to start making impressionable young idiots think that racism makes people attractive. There are a lot of lonely, desperate losers out there who could be tempted to don an iron cross in the hopes of getting laid.
They’re not even hot.
Take Richard Spencer. (No, seriously, please take him.) He’s been praised for his fashion sense and good looks, but honestly he’s, like, a 4 at best. He retains a lot of water, particularly around his face, giving him the look of a bloated adolescent. He wears dad jeans. His blazers are dull, the sort of thing an out-of-touch old man would wear. His sunglasses (pictured above) don’t suit him at all. He doesn’t look on-trend; he looks like an aging dork trying to look cool — and failing.
The Austrian hipster hate-monger above? His hair is a disaster. The turtleneck is cliché. And the glasses are at least 10 years out of style. He’s not even remotely trendy. Real hipster men dress like 19th century apothecaries or gay lumberjacks these days.
And that “sharp-dressed” murderer? He was wearing jeans and an overcoat. That’s it. That’s average (or even below-average) New York City cold-weather wear. But the Post was gushing about him as though he were in a three-piece suit. It’s almost as if being extremely racist gives you extra style points.
The victim, Timothy Caughman, had a way better sense of style:
— Jeffrey Morgan (@digdawg) March 23, 2017
If you’re going to flatter anyone, flatter the guy who could pull off a fedora. It’s not easy to look good on a budget, but Mr. Caughman did it, may he rest in peace.
It’s classist as hell.
These fashionable fascists are pretty much all wealthy. Most of them come from money. That’s the source of their supposed stylishness. They can afford to buy suits and overcoats instead of wearing Wal-Mart duds. They can afford to go to an upscale hair salon instead of relying on Supercuts or a relative.
Praising these guys for their clothing is in effect praising them for being born into money and privilege. That doesn’t deserve praise.
The complimentary tone journalists take with these guys sends the message that it’s OK to be really racist as long as you’re rich. That’s an ugly, toxic message.
(Featured photo via Mother Jones)