Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday doubled down on her claim that COVID-related mask mandates and vaccination efforts were comparable to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.
In a series of tweets, the freshman Republican lawmaker claimed that any differentiation in the treatment of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in the public sphere was akin to forcing Jews to don yellow star badges under the Third Reich.
Linking to a news story about the University of Virginia requiring students to be vaccinated before attending in-person classes, Greene tweeted that “it appears Nazi practices have already begun on our youth…this is exactly what I was saying about the gold star.”
In a separate tweet condemning a supermarket chain for dropping its mask mandate for vaccinated customers and employees, she wrote that “vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.”
Responding to criticism by Jewish commentators, including conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, Greene falsely claimed that she had “never compared [mask mandates] to the Holocaust, only the discrimination against Jews in early Nazi years” and accused her detractors of “twisting [her] words.”
Greene, a far-right supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, first compared mask mandates to the Holocaust during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody last Thursday.
Asked about Nancy Pelosi’s decision to continue requiring legislators to wear masks in the House chamber until more of them are vaccinated, Greene said that the Democratic House Speaker was “mentally ill.”
- The long list of Marjorie Taylor Greene's antisemitic, anti-Muslim conspiracy theories
- U.S. House strips Republican Marjorie Greene of committee assignments
- Marjorie Taylor Greene: Inside the Republicans' phony war on antisemitism
“We can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about,” Greene alleged.
Confronted by an Arizona 12 News reporter on Saturday who asked her to respond to condemnations from the Jewish community, Greene said that she stood by “all of [her] statements.”
“I said nothing wrong, and I think any rational Jewish person didn’t like what happened in Nazi Germany and any rational Jewish person doesn’t like what’s happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies,” she said.
Later that day, Greene retweeted a supporter who claimed that “during the Holocaust the Nazi’s had forced medical experiments." The tweet alleged that the Nuremberg trials "led to a vow by the world to never allow forced medication. Forcing the Covid vax is against the Nuremberg Code.”
“This is yet another example of how the Holocaust has become the symbol of tragedy in the unique case of genocide but that doesn't excuse comments that expropriate symbols of events during the Holocaust to make political points, especially if they are not in any way accurate,” Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, told Haaretz.
“Again and again, we see that people in politics, or celebrities of different sorts, make comments based on the history of the Holocaust that are not accurate and [constitute] patently false analogies," Zuroff said. "We find ourselves again and again trying to correct these things but we don't always succeed.”
Despite facing harsh criticism of her comments from Jewish groups, Greene has attempted to position herself as a defender of the Jewish community over the last few days. She has repeatedly blamed Democrats for a recent spike in antisemitic incidents, tweeting that attacks against Jews were “Happening in Democrat-run cities across America” and in “@JoeBiden's America.”
Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy condemned Greene while still accusing Democrats of antisemitism in a statement on Tuesday.
“Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling. The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling,” he said.
“At a time when the Jewish people face increased violence and threats, anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democrat Party and is completely ignored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi."
Lauren Fine, a spokeswoman for No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise, said in a statement that the congressman "does not agree with these comments and condemns these comparisons to the Holocaust."
The top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer, also blasted Taylor Greene's words, saying "these are sickening, reprehensible comments, and she should stop this vile language immediately."
Earlier this year McCarthy and the House Republican caucus refused to take action against Taylor Greene for her prior incendiary remarks. When the party declined to act, the House did, with just 11 Republicans joining Democrats in the February vote stripping her of her committee assignments.
Republicans lawmakers have criticized some Democratic politicians for condemning Islamophobia alongside antisemitism during the recent increase in anti-Jewish violence.
Last Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League released preliminary data from its Center on Extremism revealing what it said was “an increase in online and real-world incidents of antisemitism in the United States since the most recent outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas.”
The group said that it had tracked over 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase “Hitler was right” between May 7 and May 14. It had also “received more reports of possible antisemitic incidents since the conflict broke out in Israel, with 193 reports in the week after the crisis began" – a jump from 131 the week prior.
Speaking with Politico on Monday, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that while Greene’s comments were “just the latest manifestation of her mania, her lunacy — the reality is on the ground in public places."
"The Jewish community is worried about their own literal physical safety and security. And that’s what we need to keep focused on,” he said.
Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan said that he was embarrassed by Representative Greene's Holocaust comments.
"It's embarrassing as a Georgian, it's embarrassing as an American, it's embarrassing as a Republican, to hear somebody try to spew that type of misinformation and just hatred," he said.
Greene has a history of making incendiary and antisemitic remarks. The Republican representative is well known for her support of the QAnon conspiracy theory, having written that the world is ruled by a secret, Satanist cabal funded by George Soros and the Rothschilds. She has previously called Soros, a Jewish philanthropist and Holocaust survivor, a "Nazi" and once shared a video claiming that “Zionist supremacists have schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation” to harm Europe.
This January, she elicited widespread anger and ridicule after claiming that a California wildfire had been sparked by a space laser connected to “Rothschild Inc.” The following month, she was stripped of her committee assignments to penalize her for incendiary remarks that included support for violence against Democrats.
The lawmaker, 46, who said she was inspired to enter politics by Trump's leadership, embraced the former president's false claim that he won the Nov. 3 election, alleged that deadly U.S. school shootings were staged and questioned whether a plane struck the Pentagon in the 2001 attacks on the United States.
Greene has also referenced Nazism to make a political point in the past. In a video uncovered by journalist Jake Sherman on Tuesday, Greene, then a congressional candidate, can be seen speaking at a city council meeting in Dalton, Georgia during a June 2020 discussion regarding the removal of confederate monuments.
During the discussion, Greene stated that she was against the removal of statues, even of those in the image of people of which she disapproved, such as Adolf Hitler or Satan.
In an interview with CNN on Monday, American Jewish Congress executive director Joel Rubin called for Greene to be “expelled from Congress” for her recent remarks, which he branded “just beyond the pale.”
Reuters contributed to this report.