In a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Idaho on Saturday, anti-government extremist and militia leader Ammon Bundy blamed Jews for their fate in the Holocaust, saying their mass murder happened because they were too compliant to government authorities.
“Just look at the pictures of the Holocaust,” Bundy told the crowd gathered at the steps of the State Capitol building in Boise, at an “Idaho Is Open For Business” rally. “It always amazes me how you see pictures of men and women stripped completely naked, lined up and facing a mass grave, where they are shooting them in the back of the head and falling in the grave.”
Bundy then asked why the Jews “would line up knowing” what their fate would be.
“You must ask yourself: Why did the Jewish people not – how did they get in that position? I’m not someone to be a judge of another people, but we must learn from history. Because they thought that putting their head down and trying to not be noticed was the better way. They thought that compliance would get them through it, and it was just a period of time that they might just pass through and end up better on the other end.
“And that is a decision that we have to make right now. Is it better if we just comply? Is it safer to comply? If we comply now, they will go further … until we are lined up naked facing a mass grave and being shot in the back of the head.”
In his speech, Bundy compared himself to Holocaust victims, portraying himself as a survivor of government oppression. In January 2016, Bundy led the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon – part of the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over the U.S. government’s control of millions of acres of land in the West. Bundy was later acquitted of federal conspiracy and weapons charges for his role in leading the uprising.
He said his own experiences helped his understanding of the Holocaust narrative. “I have been there and I know for a fact that this is true: When you have faced so much tyranny in your life, there is a point when you would rather line up naked and get shot in the head. And, my friends, why we’re here today right now is to make sure that never happens!”
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The Idaho protest where Bundy spoke was one of a number of demonstrations across the country held in recent weeks pushing back against “stay-at-home” orders by governors in their efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus and demanding that orders closing nonessential businesses be revoked.
Nazi imagery has appeared on signs at some of these protests, but none of the protesters have invoked the Holocaust as vividly or as vocally as Bundy.
Unlike many of the other protests, which were aimed at orders given by Democratic governors, the target of Bundy and the other Idaho protesters is a Republican – Gov. Brad Little.
According to an Idaho public radio station, Saturday's rally was partly organized by an anti-vaccination conspiracy group called Health Freedom Idaho as well as the far-right Idaho Freedom Foundation, a group with reported ties to right-wing billionaire Charles Koch.
The radio report noted that Idaho politicians opposing quarantine orders had also used Holocaust analogies, pointing to an interview with state representative Heather Scott who said the governor had been nicknamed “Little Hitler” and called the designation of businesses as “nonessential” as being “no different than Nazi Germany, where you had government telling people you were an essential worker or nonessential worker and the nonessential workers got put on a train,” Scott said.
Eric Ward, executive director at the Western States Center, a civil rights organization, told HuffPost that Bundy’s speech blaming Jews for their own genocide was “disturbing, and it is offensive that a major argument point from Holocaust revisionism would be utilized in this moment.”
Bundy has emerged as one of the most outspoken opponents of government measures meant to limit the spread of the coronavirus. On Easter Sunday, he held a livestreamed church service in Idaho in defiance of orders in his state against mass gatherings.