Sunday, February 04, 2007

When Satire Comes Full Circle

A couple of weeks ago, The Onion posted an article on their website entitled “Today's Neo-Nazis Have No Respect For Tradition”. The article itself was pretty funny, and was of course meant to be taken as a satire of the neo-Nazi movement in general. But what was really interesting about this piece was how knowledgeable the author seemed to be regarding the white supremacist underground. He mentions obscure historical figures like George Lincoln Rockwell and Matt Koehl, as well as events like the march in Skokie, IL. In fact the author was so knowledgeable on his subject and so strait-faced in his presentation that some white supremacists, while knowing that the article was a fake, considered it to contain many worthy points and commendable ideas. Perhaps I’ve read too much of this white power stuff myself, but I would tend to agree that with a few minor changes this piece could have been posted on a legitimate racist site such as Stormfront or Vanguard News Network. Authors might take this episode as an interesting and instructive lesson on the limits of satire. Given that sarcasm does not translate well in print to begin with, the author should be careful when writing such pieces to ensure that he or she does not unintentionally come to advocate an ideal that they originally intended to lampoon.


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