Republicans Comparing COVID Policy to the Holocaust Are Dehumanizing Jews | Opinion

In a deplorable move to score cheap political points by presenting himself as a proponent of freedom, Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson (R-OH) made a deplorable comparison between a D.C. law asking patrons of restaurants and gyms for vaccine proof to health passes in use under Nazi Germany. Such comparisons are deeply antisemitic; they trivialize the real suffering of millions of Jews under the fascist Nazi regime.

Sadly, Davidson is not alone. The exploitation of the Holocaust, when millions of Jews in Europe were dehumanized, humiliated and murdered by a brutal dictatorship, has become somewhat of trend among Republican Party officials who have likely never suffered a day of prejudice let alone oppression.

Early into the coronavirus pandemic, Idaho State representative, Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) described stay-at-home measures intended to stop the spread of the virus as being "no different than Nazi Germany." Since then, the comparisons have snowballed,. Congresswoman Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) compared vaccination passes to "when the Nazi's forced the Jewish people to wear a gold star," and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) have all been guilty of making similar comparisons of vaccine requirements to Nazi Germany.

The lazy conflation of reduced freedoms by public health policies intended to save lives with Nazi Germany's genocide of millions of Jews is a dangerous line of thinking, especially with rising antisemitic incidents across the United States. Even the Auschwitz Memorial Museum described Davidson's tweet as "a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay."

Davidson, like Taylor Greene before him, issued an apology. But this will no doubt not be the last time a buffoon makes this comparison. So let's go through all the ways that proof of vaccines are not like the Nazis, just so we're clear that the comparison is not just morally odious but also factually incorrect.

For starters, one policy is intended to save lives, while the Nazis segregated people in order to murder innocent ones. The introduction of a vaccine pass cannot be considered a reduction in freedom when it is in the interest of public health. We do not bat an eyelid at the legal requirement for having a driving license to drive a car. Driving permits were also required in Nazi Germany, yet their use in the U.S. have not been described as fascist. Ironically, it was only the Jewish community who had their driving permits revoked under Nazi rule.

Which brings us to the second point: Unlike Nazi Germany, the vaccine pass does not single out any religious or ethnic minority and is intended to benefit mass public health with universal measures. In fact, Nazi Germany withheld vaccinations from the Jewish community in the hope of causing more suffering to an already oppressed community. Vaccines became part of the Jewish resistance movement in Nazi Germany as Jews were dying from diseases such as typhoid in Jewish ghettos.

jewish star yellow vaccinated
A protester holds a Yellow Star reading "Not Vaccinated = Jew" as protesters take part in a demonstration. MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

The idea that any religious or ethnic group is being marginalized by the U.S. government through introducing coronavirus vaccine passes is ridiculous. To ensure no Nazi-style prejudice occurs, D.C.'s Mayoral office is taking into consideration those that have religious and medical exemptions for vaccinations when implementing the vaccine passes.

We need to stop reaching for the Hitler analogy every time we need to criticize someone we disagree with. Not only does it trivialize the Holocaust but it contributes to antisemitism and promotes the dehumanization of other communities.

For years the GOP has edged closer towards appeasing white supremacists in their bid for the White House, culminating in former President Donald Trump's inability to unequivocally condemn a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Let's be clear where the real Nazi danger lies.

Co-opting the Jewish struggle in Nazi Germany to promote right wing policies dishonors the struggle of the Jewish community. Please, Republicans, do better.

Ahmed Twaij is a freelance journalist and filmmaker focusing mainly on U.S. politics, social justice and the Middle East. His Twitter is @twaiji.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.