Most readers, understandably, were shocked at what they saw as a strangely sympathetic profile of a Nazi, dwelling on the banal aspects of his life. And they were right to be appalled at what they were reading, but they were wrong about what the The New York Times’ agenda really was.
The Times’ agenda wasn’t to generate sympathy for the Nazi, it was to inject into the public discourse the notion that the average American was, and could actually be, a literal Nazi. Without you knowing. It was a story meant to change, in the most horrific of ways, how Americans think about their neighbors. It was meant to sow paranoia and division.