Republican Lawmaker Compares U.S. Vaccine Mandates to the Holocaust

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From left, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. talk on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Tuesday.
From left, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. talk on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Tuesday. Credit: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades,AP

A Kentucky Republican congressman tweeted a meme on Wednesday comparing COVID restrictions to the treatment of prisoners in concentration camps during the Holocaust, drawing ire from fellow lawmakers and the public.

The lawmaker, Rep. Thomas Massie, posted an image of a hand raised in a fist with a tattooed number visible on the wrist. The photograph was captioned, in bold capital letters, with “IF YOU HAVE TO CARRY A CARD ON YOU TO GAIN ACCESS TO A RESTAURANT, VENUE, OR EVENT IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY… THAT’S NO LONGER A FREE COUNTRY.” 

Massie’s tweet was later deleted or removed by Twitter, but not before it was “liked” nearly 4,000 times and retweeted by nearly 1,500 Twitter users. It remained a topic of discussion when numerous screenshots of it were posted to social media.

His comparison of proof of vaccination to the forced tattooing of Nazi concentration camp prisoners was met with condemnation and and ridicule. Many pointed out the absurdity of demonizing the process of showing some form of documentation before gaining admittance to "restaurants, venues, or events" when those spaces often require tickets or credentials.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) shot back  in a tweet to Massie, “Want to work with me on stopping states from requiring a card before folks can gain access to a voting booth to exercise their constitutional right to vote?” This refers to a Republican push to restrict voting laws in the United States.

Massie is not the first Republican member of Congress to make such an analogy, which has become widespread among COVID deniers and anti-masking and anti-vaccine activists in the United States. 

In May, Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene compared  COVID-related mask mandates and vaccination efforts to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. 

Green claimed in a series of tweets 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 another 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.”  

In a television appearance, Greene said, “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.” 

Defending her remarks, she said, “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.”

Green’s comparison drew widespread condemnation from Jewish groups and leaders across the political spectrum, including from Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who called her words “appalling.”

A month later, after sustained criticism and the drafting of a formal resolution to censure her, Greene issued an apology for her words at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

“I have made a mistake, and it’s really bothered me for a couple of weeks now, and so I definitely want to own it. The horrors of the Holocaust are something that some people don’t even believe happened, and some people deny, but there is no comparison to the Holocaust,” Greene said Monday outside the Capitol, after completing her private museum tour.

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