Editor's Note: This essay was inspired by “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland,” published in The New York Times on November 25, 2017. The Times reflected on the shortcomings of the piece after it was met with outrage and ridicule.
ELKO, Nevada—“The water is almost ready,” he said, bending down to look for the little bubbles. “Once you see the bubbles rising to the surface, you know the water is hot enough to cook the pasta.”
Steve Stevenson dispenses wisdom freely, though he is not a chef. He is 32 years old, and he drinks whole milk, and his tattoos are nonviolent. The kitchen spice rack contains only garlic powder. He wears jeans made of denim. The T-shirt on his back has a tag sticking out, and I read it as he leans in to eye the pot of water: “100 percent cotton.”
“What can I say,” jokes Stevenson, as he sees me taking note of the spice rack. “I like garlic powder.”
We both chuckle. The shimmering evening sun glints off the porcelain saltshaker and casts a long shadow onto the linoleum. As I follow its path, his wife Stephanie appears in the kitchen doorway, an exasperated look on her face.
“You forgot to put the toilet seat down again,” she says, rolling her eyes and pulling her phone out of her back pocket. Stephanie is pretty. Her hair is saffron and flaxen, and she wears jeans also, and she has a wry smile.
Stephanie Stevenson is followed by a normal dog, who walks into the room with a slight limp, and Stephen pets it. He leans in.
“The Jews control all the money, and the world would be better off if they were dead,” he says, petting the dog. “Who’s a good boy?”
The question is rhetorical. I ask about the wallpaper.
Some people disagree with Stevenson’s political views.
“He’s a nice enough guy,” said the local grocer, Butch Tarmac, a registered Democrat. “He buys apples and pancake mix. I also like those things. But I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on the bit about the one true race cleansing the soil and commanding what is rightfully theirs.”
“It’s totally fucked up,” said one person, whose name I didn’t catch.
Sometimes the Stevensons go to Applebee’s. There they like to order margaritas and onion rings and laugh about some of the paraphernalia on the walls.
“The World War II propaganda is just really far out,” laughs Stevenson. He does an impression of a hippie when he says “far out.” He has a full and radiant smile. I ask him if he had braces, and he says yes.
“Hitler gets a bad rap, but he was a pretty righteous dude,” he says, half addressing me, and half addressing his four wide-eyed children. We’re all crammed into the booth like a bunch of sardines. He tells me to only refer to him and his Nazi friends as “The Traditionalist Worker Party,” and I agree to do that.
I ask if the kids go to public school.
The Stevensons laugh.
“The schools are full of coloreds,” says Stephanie, smiling wryly. Her teeth shimmer in the reflected glow of the neon and the flaxen-colored nacho cheese. She is wearing a cotton-wool hoodie and her hair is in a hasty ponytail, spilling out in places like spaghetti in a full pot, in an attractive way. “I know I’m not supposed to say that, I know it’s not PC or whatever, but they are.”
She is wearing an armband with an embroidered swastika. It is available for purchase here. [Link redacted.]
I ask about the well-worn Aerosmith T-shirt peeking out through the open zipper of her hoodie. She says she has seen the band three times, and each time was “amazing.”
I press her on this. In my experience, the band declined since the late 1990s.
“They played ‘Dream On’ and ‘Walk This Way,’” she gushes.
Hadn’t she noticed that Steven Tyler’s vocal quality had significantly deteriorated over the past decade? Didn’t that matter at all?
“Those are her favorite songs!” says her husband. I worry I’m hitting a nerve. The first Aerosmith concert was where Stephen proposed to Stephanie, and the sentimental magnitude was clearly formative to their romantic bond.
He adds that the song “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” is feminist deep-state mind control. He instructs his kids to do violence to any boys who appear feminine.
The Stevensons have two cars and they are both green.