“Oh my god! Are you going to defend Nazis?” No, I am not.

The profile by New York Times of a white nationalist/Nazi sympathizer called Tony Hovater sent people into a frenzy.
Tweet after tweet and article after article accusing the Times of normalizing and humanizing Nazis. But the problem is that, Nazis were always people and last I checked they remain human.

I always find funny the fact that when a person holds abhorrent views people tend to believe that he must also act the part 24/7.

Most ACTUAL Nazis were normal and nice people.

Hitler himself was a decorated war veteran (that means he was brave), hated smoking, and loved animals; attributes that today are considered very positive, He even intervened to save his captain in WWI after the implementation of the Nuremberg laws. As we know that protection was not granted to others.

Reinhard Heydrich, the “Butcher of Prague,” was an educated man and talented athlete and by all accounts an aristocratic person in his manners. He personally intervened to save the Polish fencing team and Paul Sormer, a Jewish-German fencing champion; but at the same time he created, after Himmler’s orders, the Einsatzgruppen: essentially units that hunted Jews and other undesirables of the regime. The Einsatzgruppen and other units are responsible, according to some historians, for two million deaths.

Third case, Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann never hurt anyone personally but he made up plans and managed the details so others could kill people. I need not say how much of a plain and boring person he was, there is an entire book about that.

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My paternal grandmother remembers German officers, among them SS, flocking into the Parthenon and admiring the sights. The seats during ancient plays were always full. They were educated and cultured young men with love for the Ancient Greek civilization, who at the same time burned villages to the ground and executed their inhabitants, like happened in Distomo where babies were killed with bayonets to their throats.

Nazis of course do not have a monopoly on “normal looking monsters”; most similar state apparatuses had their examples (I am looking at you Iron Curtain countries).
Even terrorists are nice people. There are accounts of normal people, with respect towards their parents, friends, normal lives etc, up to the point when they decide to act as monsters.

The obvious observation here is that monsters don’t exist: the obviously dangerous individual is an anomaly in a world of people that will strike under the cover of normalcy.
Hovater, of course, being an activist of a political ideology, is visible. Others aren’t.

The idea of monsters tends to reassure us that we, or anyone we know, could never be like that. But if Scooby Doo taught us anything, it’s that under the mask always hides an every-day, normal human being. And in the real world, there are no masks.