A Michigan businessman has closed his business, perhaps permanently, and he is receiving death threats, all because of years-old photos of him that appear to depict him supporting Nazis.
As The Kalamazoo Gazette reports, Aaron VanArsdale would like everyone to know that he is not now, nor has he ever been, a Nazi, a Nazi sympathizer, a white supremacist, or a member of any other hate group.
However, his pleas of innocence haven’t stopped his business, Craft Draft 2 Go, a craft beer supply store in Kalamazoo County, from being vandalized. What’s more, he’s been met by protesters when he tries to open his store. He and his family have even received death threats
So if VanArsdale is innocent, why is he the target of such ire?
As it turns out, it goes back to two photos of him shot several years ago – 2011, to be specific. At the time, he was at a Notre Dame football game, and, he says, caught up in the moment, he jokingly did a Nazi salute. In another picture, which he claims was photoshopped, a swastika appears to be drawn on his forehead.
He admits that the act was tasteless, but he says that it came from a place of humor. He says he has a “wry sense of humor” and is “not always politically correct.”
“We’re tailgating. It was in bad judgment. I’m not a Nazi. I’m not a Nazi sympathizer. I’m not a white supremacist. I’m not an extremist. I’m not a fascist. I don’t think violence solves anything.”
“It was just a joke brah”
— radfad???????????? (@radfadam) August 17, 2017
Unfortunately for VanArsdale, he’s become a living embodiment of the two most important rules of using the internet: a) don’t put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t put on a billboard on a busy highway; and b) nothing you put on the internet ever truly goes away.
Kalamazoo — Craft Draft 2 Go closes as owner is accused of being Nazi, white supremist https://t.co/hLXFBdAIWu
— Brad Devereaux (@BradDevero) August 16, 2017
VanArsdale has deactivated his personal Facebook account, and even if he decides to re-open his business, it may be too late: as Forbes reports, at least three of his wholesale suppliers have decided to stop supplying to him. Meanwhile, his employees have quit for fear of being associated with a supposed Nazi.
What’s more, he says, he may be done with Kalamazoo entirely.
“I don’t plan on going back into Kalamazoo. [I’ve been] run out of the city.”
Do you believe VanArsdale deserved to be put out of business due to old photos of him that appeared to depict him as sympathetic to Nazis? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Staff/Getty Images]