‘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.

    • Brett Michael Rader

      I always thought Nazism went better with root beer.

  • Mike Worcester

    //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

    I get that folks were upset but threatening a business owner who knew nothing about the outside-of-work activities of one of his employees (news flash — that’s pretty common), is unfair. My guess? The employer was shocked to read about his employee in the NYT and probably did not need anyone’s “encouragement” to terminate.

    • The man at the center of the article was extremely forthcoming with the NYT – and therefore the world – about his racist views. If he’d share that with a worldwide audience, I doubt he’d hold back at work. While the restaurant may not have know that he labeled himself as a Nazi, I’m sure they’ve heard him make bigotedracist comments, or treat people differently. I refuse to believe this guy was 100% able to turn it off while he was at work.

      • Mike Worcester

        // I refuse to believe this guy was 100% able to turn it off while he was at work.

        It would be an interesting follow-up to interview former co-workers, patrons, etc. to find out how he behaved while on the job — presuming anyone is willing to talk on record.

        • Brett Michael Rader

          and presuming they won’t be fired if they talk.

      • That is a good point. It’s not like being a Nazi is just his hobby.

        • Yeah, and he co-founded the Traditionalist Worker Party, one of the groups in Charlottesville where a Nazi killed a woman. It’s not like they just asked a guy minding his own business, walking into Walmart, “hey are you a Nazi?”

      • Brett Michael Rader

        He probably spouted a lot of nonsense, but as far as how he treated people, who knows. The cognitive dissonance among the far right is astounding.

  • Rob

    Just re-read Fausset’s NYT piece, and it seems clear to me that the reason he didn’t get close to answering his question, “What turns a person into a Nazi?” is that he didn’t probe or push back on Hovater’s vague and simplistic comments. But at least we know that Hovater likes cats and pasta with minced garlic. Epic fail.

    • We only know what was printed. We don’t know what questions he asked that didn’t yield anything.

      • Rob

        Would sure love to see/hear his reporter’s notes.

  • AL287

    America has turned into the very narrow minded and intolerant people we fought to defeat in WW II.

    Mob mentality, including the current #metoo “movement” is sending a powerful message around the globe that you had better think like us and act like us or we will out you and make your life miserable and that includes taking your job away from you and making it impossible to ever have a normal life again.

    This is how countries self destruct. We’re headed in the direction of Myanmar, Rwanda, Syria, Iraq, and Yugoslavia.

    We’re better than this, America.

    • // ing a powerful message around the globe that you had better think like us and act like us or we will out you and make your life miserable and that includes taking your job away from you and making it impossible to ever have a normal life again.

      That’s a leap. The MeToo movement is declaring, “you better not sexually harass us.”

      You don’t want to think like that? How do you want to think?

      • AL287

        //That’s a leap.

        It is a very short leap indeed from democracy to anarchy.

        • Let’s see if I have this right. Being against Nazis — people who exterminated jews and believe in white supremacy — threatens democracy? Go tell it to the people down at Fort Snelling cemetery.

          Look, come back when you make sense because you’re just trolling here now and none of us have any patience for that kind of nonsense.

    • The country isn’t going to destruct because women don’t want men sexually assaulting, harassing, or abusing them. And it’s not going to self destruct because they’re revealing to you just how pervasive it is.

    • Jeff C.

      Don’t forget about the #AllAreWelcomeHere movement. “You better think like us an not be a close-minded bigot.” That’s how countries prosper.

    • Barton

      the fact that I finally felt free to share the story of my sexual assault and how it was ignored when it was reported is “mob mentality” to you? I believe you’ve made it quite clear which of the two of us is narrow minded and intolerant.

    • Andy K.

      So, what’s the alternative to the #metoo movement? The #shutupifyouknowwhatsgoodforyoutomaintainourpower movement? All snark aside, I don’t understand. Is there supposed to be a radical middle ground to who is allowed and not allowed to report sexual harassment/assault? I think at the heart of your comment, I hear a question: “what if this country turns into a place that doesn’t accept me and my views?” If that’s the question you’re asking, I think you’re in good company, as many have asked it before you.

    • Brett Michael Rader

      I know, right. I remember reading about how open minded we were with suspected communists in the 50s.

      • AL287

        If you can get it either streaming or on DVD, I highly recommend “Good Night, Good Luck” with David Straithairn as Edward R. Murrow and George Clooney as Fred Friendly.

  • jbob

    Its fine to be the “nazi next door”. The consequences come when you decide to become a public figure as the “nazi next door”. Once you do that, you are not a civilian anymore and are by definition fair game for anyone who wants to come after you.

    Richard Fausset either cynically played on this person’s Naivety or he wanted to be a martyr. The former can happen. But the latter is more likely.

    • // Its fine to be the “nazi next door”.


      • jbob

        The point of that message was that private citizens (including nazis) give up rights to privacy and various protections when he become public figures interviewed in the national media. That the “nazi next door” deserved everything he got and that the newspaper and others) did nothing wrong.

        As far as the rest, great. You are well on your way to a job at Fox News or right-wing talk radio. When you can hang up on the callers, it will make slandering them so much easier.

        MPR is better than this.

        • Greg W

          I’m trying to understand here.

          Are you saying that it is okay to hold these beliefs, go to public rallies with people shouting these beliefs, write and sell music espousing your beliefs, etc. until you are interviewed by a newspaper?
          Once you are interviewed and are a public figure, it is fair game and you no longer have “privacy protection”?

          • Kellpa07

            My guess is that he meant to say that the Nazi has the right to be a Nazi (he phrased pretty poorly), but as long as he keeps his beliefs (and doesn’t act in accordance with those vile beliefs) to himself, he should be left alone. Once he broadcasts his vile belief publically, he should expect public condemnation, such as happened here.
            That is the charitable reading of what he wrote in the combined comments. Starting as he did, makes it tough to justify the charitable reading, but careful writing is not a skill everyone has, so who knows. He’s banned now anyways.

          • Jerry

            Basically you have unlimited Freedom of Thought, slightly limited Freedom of Speech, and quite limited Freedom of Action.

            But he didn’t state it that clearly and then he went all Aaron Burr on Bob.

          • I don’t mind Aaron Burr. But there’ll be no Adolph Hitlers getting a forum here. We’re not going to normalize Nazis.

          • Jerry

            I don’t think that is what he was trying to say, but he wasn’t doing it very clearly and went ad hominem really early. And when he was misunderstood he doubled down. But again, I’m not completely sure what he intended.

            But I definitely could do without people trying to start duels because they feel like their honor has been impugned

          • Greg W

            I figured as much, but I was giving “jbob” the opportunity to voice those a little more clearly.

            However, the fact that this Hovater has been shouting his racist beliefs in public rallies and through music, I find it hard to believe the NYT article was what made him fair game and dubious that the boss at the restaurant didn’t know Hovater was a Nazi.

            I wish I still had my undergrad term paper about Neo Nazi’s use of the Internet to grow their ranks and normalize their behavior. I was way ahead of my time in 2001.

          • Jerry

            I think that goes back to my statement in another post that the internet is the cause of, and solution to, all the worlds problems. The internet has exposed people to ideas and viewpoints they would have never encountered. Unfortunately it has also exposed people to ideas and viewpoints they should have never encountered.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    What strikes me from this current report is the line “he suggested that we release him from his employment”. I didn’t read the NYT or Post articles so maybe this was said in there, but it strikes me that he was, probably voluntarily, a propaganda tool of the larger group he is part of. Maybe they wanted to “test the waters” and see if the country was ready for them. So you get a story written about “the nazi next door” and see what the reaction is. Hovater would have to be prepared to move from Ohio if it failed, which it has, so his wife and brother-in-law (also Nazis?) would have to be prepared to go also.

    It just seems like the Times got used for a propaganda salvo by a group that is trying to figure if it can come out of the shadows.

    • // to figure if it can come out of the shadows.

      Some of the comments reveal the answer is “sure, come on out.”

      This is the normalization of Nazis. Hands up if you thought you’d see this in America in your lifetime.

      • jbob

        You accused me of being a nazi by strip quoting a few words and turning around an anti-nazi message into somehow one that supported this idiot.

        If you are any kind of man. You owe me an apology. If you are not a man, I would expect your next move will be to ban me.

        • Done. Get out of this establishment, avatarless, anonymous person who just joined Disqus 10 hours ago.


          • Tyler

            “Could be arguing in my spare time.”

        • Jerry

          You know, their are two things you can do if you feel that someone is misinterpreting your statements. You can calmly clarify what you said and correct that misinterpretation, or you can get angry and question someone’s manhood. I think you might have chosen poorly.

    • jbob

      Often these guys, apart from what the group wants, are looking to become a public martyr for their own reasons. He will now be famous within their movement and be able to live for years off the story of him being a “victim” when I’m almost certain he wasn’t.