“Show, don’t tell.” It’s the number one rule of writing. Trust your reader. Show what’s going on…and you won’t need to tell them.
It’s the difference between grabbing attention and in so doing, getting the point across, or just lecturing in a boring college class style.
The New York Times ran a “Nazi Next Door” story, dubbed “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland” by Richard Fausset.
The story chronicles the life of a young man in his mid-20s. He’s recently married. He and his wife shop at Target. He likes Seinfeld and pop culture and oh, yeah, he’s a white nationalist.
Critics were quick to get up the Times’ butt and look I’ll be the first to criticize the Times or any other paper because journalism on the whole is on the decline. However, the criticism that came at the times is that this story “normalizes” Nazi-ism, racism, etc by talking about this guy as though he is just a normal guy misses the point.
The point, in my opinion, when you read the article, seems to be that one should be very afraid that there are seemingly normal people like the subject of this article – on the outside they get married, they go shopping, they watch TV, they do all sorts of normal things but in their spare time, they pursue activities in racist organizations so…yeah.
Like, a Nazi with a swastika tattooed on his forehead wearing a German WW2 helmet and a Hitler mustache waving a “Heil Hitler” flag should scare you….but at least you can see that guy coming. You can spot him from a mile away and step to the other side of the street.
The guys that are, by all outward appearances, normal, who blend in and engage in the usual activities but, oh yeah, they also are actively involved in racist movements…those should scare you even more…because that guy could be shopping right next to you in the store or what have you and maybe you know him, trust him, what have you and then boom…he’s not what you thought he was. He was a white nationalist all along.
That’s what I took away from the story. Be very afraid of the “Nazi next door” the evil dude that might be under your nose plotting evil doings and you might not know about it until it’s too late.
People, you’ve got to get smarter. The Times showed. They didn’t tell. I read it. I got the point. If you thought they needed to slap a big banner on the article, “Hey in case you missed it this guy is a racist!” – you missed the point. The point is there may be a lot of people who hold themselves out to the world as normal but in the meantime they pursue evil activities.
At any rate, I don’t believe the Times meant to say, “This guy is a great guy! He’s super normal!” They meant to say, “Um, it’s a little creepy that there are guys like this who at a first glance appear normal and you wouldn’t know what their up to just by looking at them…”
Learn to read with an eye for the point.