When a little free time at work leads to neo-Nazi symbology.
I n seventh grade, I figured out that YouTube didn’t censor boobs in breast exam videos and finding Jack Donovan felt a whole lot like that. I don’t know exactly how I got to Jack Donovan, but it was the direct result of an email password failure at work. I was left to my own devices with the office’s life blood temporarily cut.
The video description called Donovan the author of “The Way of Men” and an overall good guy. It had 9,246 total views. I was 9,247.
Donovan was wearing the most cut-off cut-off I had ever seen. So cut-off, in fact, that I noticed this strip of fabric before Donovan’s thick goatee and even thicker biceps. He adjusted his chair. Or maybe he tied his shoe. (I think he adjusted his chair). The camera’s crude light reflected off his mostly-shaved scalp. Donovan’s purpose was to define masculinity and masculinity wasn’t wearing dresses and having babies. The media had stolen masculinity, made it an inconvenience and sold feminism instead. Donovan was re-seizing the narrative. At one point, he said “this” four times in four seconds.
Satisfaction by comparison might be an especially well-honed skill during election season – at least I don’t believe that crazy shit! – but that wasn’t why I kept watching. You see, Jack Donovan was gay and hated gay culture. And I didn’t hate Jack Donovan nearly as much as I should have hated Jack Donovan.
Technically, Donovan was an “androphile,” or, as Wikipedia explained, someone attracted to men and masculinity. The term identified a person’s object of attraction without attributing a sex assignment or gender identity to the person. Donovan had even written a book titled Androphilia. The cover read, “REJECTING THE GAY IDENTITY. RECLAIMING MASCULINITY.” and featured two Spartan helmets about to clash. It looked like a textbook.
(Maybe it was, somewhere in Texas.)
The editorial review written by the British journalist who coined the term “metrosexual” described Donovan as a straight-talking Drill Instructor for today’s gay generation. The review made me picture Jack Donovan as the spitting drill instructor in a slapstick war movie. It was too bad Jack didn’t act. And I knew he didn’t act because, at some point during the interview, I had checked IMDB to see if he was in American History X. He wasn’t.
Secretaries scurried around my desk with scrambled copies of curriculum vitae, spurred by a drill instructor’s bark that wasn’t all that funny. I watched one woman’s striped sweater trace the same circuit over-and-over with uncanny precision. She looked like a particularly-motivated honey bee doing a waggle dance.
Back on YouTube, Jack Donovan referenced an evolutionary biologist and an Amazon review. I couldn’t help but think of the Chappelle’s Show bit where Dave played a blind black man in the KKK. I wanted to find it on Comedy Central’s vast streaming library, but I didn’t because Donovan was saying to surround yourself with men you respected. Men who exemplified strength, courage, mastery and honor. The Tactical Virtues™.
For example, Donovan and his buddy Chris, who owned a gym, offered feedback on each other’s ideas. Chris also said Jack’s bench PR sucked. Jack appreciated this. The Tactical Virtues™ were vital to forming gangs and gangs were vital to Donovan’s mantra, “Start The World.” In other words, start a gang, fuck the government, and save the world. I liked this. Gangs were cool.
The interviewer himself, who was a lifelong reader of Donovan’s work, then suggested to Donovan that interviewing him was one such act of courage. He just, you know, um, really respected Donovan’s work. And, um, it was intimidating.
Awesome. If this guy was a fan, why wasn’t I?
The fluorescent office lights exacerbated the lack of pigment in my skin. I had always been pale, sunburnt seemingly within seconds. It was never a source of pride. I had been embarrassed from an aesthetic perspective for as long as I could remember and then from a historical one too when I was older. The Victorians prized a pale complexion, painting their faces with white mineral powders. Paler complexions were still prized, of course. It was why I could long for something as stupid as a tan. I wasn’t lacking any number of things that I took for granted in my cocoon.
SunTanCity.com said the nearest location was open until 9:00 p.m.
A speech Jack Donovan gave at The National Policy Institute automatically loaded after part 2 of the interview ended. The National Policy Institute was a white supremacy organization that didn’t say it was a white supremacy organization – the eating-lunch-at-your-desk of injurious rhetoric – and Donovan was a bald white guy arguing for tribalism. He said something to the crowd about smart phones getting real, real dumb as blood flowed through the streets. I didn’t know if Donovan was racist or not, but I knew he was a proud white guy and proud white guys were usually racist.
Jack Donovan didn’t classify himself as a white nationalist. He was a member of the Alternative Right and supported tribalism for everybody. Plenty of white people were trash. In fact, most of the people he hated were white. I hated a lot of white people too. That was really my problem with Donovan’s ideology. Sure, I was biased against hunting and gathering because of my slender frame and pretty face, but really it was because white people were generally boring. I grew up with almost exclusively white people and I never wanted to do that again. If tribalism meant being surrounded by Obama birthers and Dockers, tribalism wasn’t for me.
I googled The National Policy Institute and ended up reading about the Sun Wheel. Specifically, whether or not a Sun Wheel tattoo was offensive. According to Yahoo! Answers, a Sun Wheel wasn’t necessarily a swastika. But a swastika was a Sun Wheel. The Sun Wheel was a symbol to help neo-Nazis low key identify one another. The only people who would recognize a Sun Wheel besides fellow neo-Nazis were history buffs. That said, Nathan on Yahoo! Answers, didn’t recommend getting a Sun Wheel tattoo if you lived in a small town that had problems with neo-Nazi gangs; if there were a lot of history and/or civil rights majors at your university; or if your girlfriend/desired girlfriend was Jewish.
The Sun Wheel was originally a Viking rune before being stolen by Hitler’s Schutzstaffel. But all I really got out of the “Guide to Far-Right Symbols” was that white supremacists ruined a lot of potentially cool shit. They pretty much took a bunch of badass symbols and then made them represent disgusting ideology. Great.
Unsurprisingly, white supremacists were as stale and manicured as office oxygen. Claustrophobically consistent, recycled to the point of a yawn. That’s why they needed all those symbols. They were only interesting in the movies. In real life, they were all the same. You knew exactly what to expect. The only surprise was that some people agreed.
The 6th Google result for “Jack Donovan” was an article headlined, “What the Fuck is Wrong with Jack Donovan?” And I was still wondering a few things about Jack Donovan myself. But I never opened the link. Something about loading neo-Nazi symbols on my work computer had saved me from the peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures down the rabbit hole.
For all his rhetoric – all his imagined marginalization, conjured conspiracy, and carbonated muscle – Jack Donovan was at least something else. The open-office layout of the far-right, slightly better than cubicles and much preferred to factory suicide nets. Someone who occasionally stumbled upon something that made you nod your head. “It doesn’t make sense to start wars and then say you’re trying to win hearts and minds,” he said to the room of not-white-supremacist white supremacists. “War is not a good way to win hearts and minds. And worrying about hearts and minds isn’t a good way to win a war.”