Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Fox affiliate can't even bring itself to say swastikas are racist

Screenshot: KCCI (YouTube)

Racism can manifest in subtle ways. It can also, as is the case in a recent story out of Iowa, take the form of a house plastered with Confederate battle flags and swastikas. In the latter case, it should be pretty easy to call the guy who constructed such a display a racist. This is 2019, though, and a Chicago Fox affiliate seems to be having a tough time mustering up the few minerals of backbone-forming calcium necessary to suggest that a man who proudly displays the flags of two of the most genocidal racist groups in history might be, in fact, a racist himself.


A Fox32 article on the Des Moines house, which is located next to an elementary school whose students “are about 60% nonwhite,” describes the “backlash” homeowner/racist William Stark is facing as the result of his frankly terrifying decorating choices. The language of the article, careful to avoid making bold assertions like describing swastikas and Confederate flags as racist, carefully slithers between defending the clear threat—aimed at children—of either an obvious white supremacist or those who would like him to take down his batshit monument to horror.

Highlighted up front, we hear a stirring defense from Stark, who’s quoted as saying “It’s a free country,” “I’ll put it out there if I want to,” and is described as “[adding] that people shouldn’t construe the painted pallets as racist” without the piece’s author adding in any pesky objective historical context to counter this claim.


Stark’s evidently non-racist swastikas and Confederate flags are “clearly visible from the school” (including “when arriving and leaving the school and even from the playground”). Speaking on why anyone could be opposed to his home, Stark says “They don’t know their history, evidently. That’s the only reason I can think of that they can think anything bad about it—they don’t know their history.”

Fox32 lets this incredible statement stand on its own, offering as counterpoint only the quote of a student’s parent who, perhaps because she hasn’t read the right kind of history (or The Turner Diaries), “said the swastika is a symbol of white supremacism and is racist, offensive, and disgusting.”


The article clearly sucks on a monumental level, but last night, before it started gaining attention, it somehow managed to suck even more. The original headline—screenshot by Chase Woodruff—read: “Homeowner says swastikas, Confederate flags are not racist; others denounce them as symbols of white supremacy.” In an effort to contort this into an even less meaningful series of words, it’s been updated to read, “Iowa homeowner says swastikas, Confederate flags are not racist.”


Fox32’s journalistic approach, even before the headline was tinkered to be somehow more limp and useless, has not gone over well.


Though we’re sure there’s a dark pocket of Twitter filled with defenses of the story, we’re not in a big rush to highlight them here. Instead, we’ll leave you with the welcome knowledge that Stark’s property has been spray-painted with “NAZI SCUM,” an action that cuts through the bullshit far better than the Fox32 story.


Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.