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Sheldon Kirshner
Sheldon Kirshner

Republican Politicians Playing A Dangerous Game

Republican Party politicians across the United States are playing a dangerous game. Dishearteningly enough, they’re comparing coronavirus protocols and vaccine passports and mandates to the restrictions and cruelties of Nazi Germany and the unprecedented horrors of the Holocaust.

They are flinging these twisted and irresponsible comparisons into the public realm at a fraught moment.

Vaccinations are vitally important in warding off the spread of infections, yet only 59 percent of Americans have chosen to be fully vaccinated, compared with 75 percent of Canadians. With more than 1,000 Americans succumbing to the pandemic each day, the death toll has surpassed the 800,000 mark. And now that the deadlier Omicron variant has surfaced, the morality rate is bound to climb even higher.

Despite the litany of bad news, several Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and in state legislatures are equating sensible anti-pandemic measures with anti-democratic edicts passed by Germany during the Nazi era.

Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia) was one of the first to draw this absurd analogy. After apologizing for her initial remarks, she likened the administrators of vaccines to “medical brown shirts,” a clear and unambiguous reference to Nazi stormtroopers.

Green’s colleague, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, has described canvassers who go door to door promoting vaccinations as “needle Nazis.” Madison Cawthorn (North Carolina) claims that vaccine passports “smack of 1940s Nazi Germany.”

Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Republican Party in Arizona, endorsed a tweet saying, “What’s the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star?” Ward liked the tweet. “Exactly #WakeUpAmerica,” she wrote.

Comparing vaccine proponents to Nazis, Arizona state senator Kelly Townsend shared an image of a needle shaped like a swastika. Her colleague, John Fillmore, said that mask mandates reminded him of Germany in the 1930s.

On Facebook, the Oklahoma Republican Party posted an image of a Star of David with a comment, “Unvaccinated. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Heidi Sampson, a member of  the Maine legislature, compared vaccine requirements to Nazi medical experiments. In a reference to Maine’s governor, Sampson said, “We have Josef Mengele and Joseph Goebbels being reincarnated in the state of Maine.”

In West Virginia, senator Craig Blair claimed that the federal government’s vaccine mandate for large businesses harkens “back to Nazi Germany.”

Brenda Landwehr, a lawmaker from Kansas, compared vaccine and mask mandates to “racism against the modern-day Jew.”

In Connecticut, legislator Anne Dauphinais linked the Democratic governor’s speech in favor of vaccines and testing requirements to Adolf Hitler. “We know what happened in the ’30s when that started happening to a community of people. They were taken out of their jobs, and they were segregated and discriminated against.”

Jim Walsh, a legislator from Washington who opposes mandates, had a Star of David sown on his shirt and was quoted as saying, “It’s an echo from history. In the current context, we’re all Jews.”

David Eastman, a legislator from Alaska, compared the vaccination campaign to Nazi medical experiments.

And in a Facebook post, lawmaker Kris Jordan of Ohio wrote sarcastically, “It’s just a mask, wear it. It’s just a shot, take it. It’s just a boxcar, get in.”

Josh Mandel, a US Senate contender in Ohio, condemned vaccine passports: “We’ve seen this before,” he said. “Nazi Germany also registered citizens.”

These ill-informed politicians are doing a great disservice to their constituents by distorting the truth, drawing misleading analogies, and demeaning science.

At the end of the day, they are hampering efforts to protect and safeguard the nation from a relentless contagion that shows no signs of letting up. Politicians of their ilk surely bear part of the responsibility for the pathetically low vaccination rate in the United States and for the resistance that has greeted vaccine mandates.

Americans from all walks of life should band together in common cause to combat this pandemic. The existential medical crisis facing America surely transcends politics and ideology.

It’s long past time for the leaders of the Republican Party, on both the federal and state level, to vigorously denounce the willfully ignorant dissidents in their ranks who are playing havoc with the lives of countless Americans.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal, SheldonKirshner.com
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