The ongoing fallout from the controversial New York Times profile of Tony Hovater, a young promoter of racist and neo-Nazi ideology, has had an unexpected side effect.
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It is shining a spotlight on GoyFundMe, a new online crowdfunding platform for racists, white supremacists and other fringe political players, banned from mainstream platforms and online services.
The name GoyFundMe may sound like the punchline of a Catskill comedian’s standup routine, but it is not a joke. This site is a member of the “Alt Tech” community, a movement the GoyFundMe's website describes as having risen “from the ashes of what has now become ubiquitously known as 'The Great Shuttering' during which multiple popular websites and online services began shutting down accounts and refusing service to those with different political and social viewpoints.”
GoyFundMe declares that it is “an open crowdfunding platform dedicated to the principles of liberty and freedom of speech” and that “we offer our users a crowdfunding experience free from political or social censorship. This means that we will not shut down a project simply because it is unpopular, controversial, politically incorrect, or because we receive complaints about the person and/or group that created it.”
The platform, created this year, is run by the Traditionalist Worker Party – an extreme-right group co-founded by Hovater. The party vows to “fight for the interests of White Americans” and marched in the infamous Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally and a “White Lives Matter” rally last month in Tennessee, and offers swastika armbands for sale on its website.
The inflammatory name of the site – an obvious twist on the popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe – reflects the fact that anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi leaders have chosen to embrace the term “goy,” a Yiddish term for non-Jew. “The Goyim Know” is a familiar slogan repeated often on extremist white memes and on Twitter. It references their supposed awareness of the conspiracies being concocted by what they believe is a global Jewish cabal in league with other racial and religious minorities determined to dominate and oppress white Christians.
GoyFundMe is successfully being used to raise money for Hovater, who reports that he and his family members lost their restaurant jobs and are in danger of losing their home as a result of the Times profile headline “A Voice of Hate In America’s Heartland” that was published on Nov. 25.
The New York Times was widely slammed immediately after the article’s publication. Readers complained and anti-racism organizations charged the Times journalist was ‘normalizing’ hate by sympathetically portraying portrayed a white nationalist and alt-right social media troll. They objected to the characterization of Hovater as the all-American "Nazi sympathizer next door, polite and low-key" who dines at Applebee's and Panera Bread and likes “Seinfeld.”
In the wake of the complaints and social media outrage, Times national editor Marc Lacey wrote an apology in response to the backlash, saying that "the point of the story was not to normalize anything but to describe the degree to which hate and extremism have become far more normal in American life than most of us want to think."
Four days later, the paper followed up with a story on Hovater’s reports of financial distress: “Nazi Sympathizer Profiled By The Times Loses His Job.” The times did not mention GoyFundMe by name, but several other outlets, including The Washington Post, highlighted the site’s role in raising money for Hovater. The campaign was launched with a modest goal of raising $1,000. By Thursday afternoon, it had exceeded that goal more than eight times over, raising over $8,600 from more than 250 donors and climbing.
Hovater’s GoyFundMe campaign page contends that “despite the incessant claims that the author was attempting to "humanize" Mr. Hovater and paint him in a positive light, the article resulted in a smear campaign against Tony and his bride. Communists, Antifa, and general basement-dwelling ne'er-do-wells set to work immediately, identifying their place of employment and harassing their management into terminating them. Unfortunately, as a result, the Hovaters are suddenly without an income and are going to have to leave their home.”
His campaign is by far the most successful on the GoyFundMe platform – the vast majority of fundraising efforts listed on the website have failed to raise more than 20 percent of their goal, and several haven’t succeeded in raising any money at all.
The site lists campaigns to support causes such as “Unite the Right Defense Fund” to support the battle against “lawfare being waged on our movement by the leftists in the wake of Charlottesville.” It is not the only Charlottesville– related campaign on the site – Among the causes are several fundraisers for legal defense funds of those charged with violence there.
Other campaigns, including one that managed to raise 56% of its goal, was for a Florida man who attacked demonstrators during a protest in support of renaming streets bearing the names of Confederate generals.