On November 25th, The New York Times published a controversial article about a regular, run-of-the-mill Nazi sympathizer. Sparking national outrage, only two days later NYT published a follow-up to their article, explaining the logic that went into its writing. Now, The Washington Post reports that Tony Hovater, the subject of the article, has lost his job. He's also about to lose his home.
The original Times article paints a portrait of Hovater as a regular man, opening with his wedding registry and other mundane details about his life and concluding with his anxieties about the future.
“The fact that we’re seeing more and more normal people come [to the far right] is because things have gotten so bad. And if they keep getting worse, we’ll keep getting more, just, normal people," Hovater says in the feature.
But the American public was outraged by the depiction of a white supremecist as an average citizen, juxtaposed with his incredibly violent ideology. Many weighed in on the article over social media, describing it as “How to normalize Nazis 101!” This reaction prompted the NYT editorial staff to issue a response.
"We understand that some readers wanted more pushback, and we hear that loud and clear," wrote Marc Lacey, in a sort of half-apology. "We regret the degree to which the piece offended so many readers. We recognize that people can disagree on how best to tell a disagreeable story. What we think is indisputable, though, is the need to shed more light, not less, on the most extreme corners of American life and the people who inhabit them. That’s what the story, however imperfectly, tried to do."
Now, after continued outcry, Hovator has lost his job at 571 Grill & Draft House (his his wife and his brother-in-law, who also work there, were let go as well) and will be moving out of his home for both financial and safety reasons.
“It’s not for the best to stay in a place that is now public information,” he said, adding later: “We live alone. No one else is there to watch the house while I’m away.”
Hovator's employers claim they did not know of his political alignment and were disturbed by the original article's revelations. They also said they were hit with a wave of threatening calls and messages on social media, along with disappointment from their other employees.
“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," the restaurant said in a statement. "We neither encourage nor support any forms of hate within our establishment."
“Businesses will do what they have to do to protect their businesses,” said Hovator.
A campaign on Goyfundme.com (a site created after GoFundMe and PayPal refused to support campaigns from the far right) was started to support Hovator and his wife has also begun. By Wednesday afternoon, it had raised over $6,000.
[Photo: Getty Images]