‘The Nazi next door’ moves out

Here’s a temperature check on the state of America: It’s still bad for one’s employment prospects to be a Nazi.

The Washington Post reports that Tony Hovater, profiled by the New York Times, which assured us that Hovater was just like normal people except for being a Nazi, has lost his job.

He and his wife are now going to be someone else’s “Nazi next door.” They’re moving from their Ohio home, he tells the Post.

Hovater said that he, his wife and his brother-in-law were fired Monday from a small restaurant they worked at in New Carlisle, Ohio.

In a statement, the restaurant owner said he didn’t know Hovater was a Nazi.

Since the release of this article, we have been swamped with phone calls and social media messages that are threatening and intimidating to both us and our employees. These hateful and disturbing messages are truly saddening to those of us who just want to serve delicious food and cold beers.

Due to these very disturbing threats, the employee who was featured in the article suggested that we release him from employment. We have done so and have also released his wife and her brother who also worked for us. We felt it necessary to fully sever the relationship with them in hopes to protect our 20 other employees from the verbal and social media threats being made from individuals all over the country, and as far as Australia. We neither encourage nor support any forms of hate within our establishment.

We have been in business for a very long time and have a great reputation for supporting our community, and want to continue to do so. We do not check political party affiliation of any of our patrons and as such we are prayerful that members of our community understand that this has been a very difficult situation for us. We hope that you will continue to support us and our small family-owned business.

“Tony was fired from his job for his political beliefs. His wife and family all fired all at once to avoid the political pressure,” a sympathizer who is raising money for the family said. As of this morning, it’s raised more than $8,000.

Richard Fausset, who wrote the original article for the New York Times, acknowledged that his article didn’t answer the question he wanted answered: What turns a person into a Nazi?

To me, that question embodies what good journalism should strive for, as well as the limits of the enterprise. Sometimes all we can bring you is the words of the police spokesman, the suspect’s picture from a high school yearbook, the acrid stench of the burned woods.

Sometimes a soul, and its shape, remain obscure to both writer and reader.

I beat myself up about all of this for a while, until I decided that the unfilled hole would have to serve as both feature and defect. What I had were quotidian details, though to be honest, I’m not even sure what these add up to. Like other committed extremists I have known, Mr. Hovater had little time for a life beyond his full-time job and his line of activism. When he is not doing those things, he likes to be at home with his girlfriend (now his wife) and their cats.