OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma Republican Party Facebook post on Friday was condemned for likening COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the persecution and murder of millions of Jews.
The picture was part of a Facebook post made Friday morning urging Republicans to “politely request” that Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell call a special session to address private employer vaccine mandates. But the party also posted a photo of the yellow Star of David that millions of Jews were required to wear during the Holocaust, marking them for persecution and murder.
The image had the message: “Status: — Restricted. Limited access to travel within their state province or territory. The bearer may not fly, cannot enter a pub, restaurant, club or theatre. Has limited access to either work, buy and sell goods or have access to services and health care. Wake up people — Is this sounding familiar?”
The star had the word “unvaccinated” written on it along with “2020-ID-No,” “V-123-666” and a picture of gray chip that resembles the one appearing on many credit cards.
At the bottom of the image was the message: “Those who don’t know history, are doomed to repeat it.”
“These analogies always have a hurtful impact to Holocaust survivors, to families of those murdered in the Holocaust, to loved ones of those who risked their lives to save Jews (and) to loved ones of the liberators,” said Roberta Clark, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City.
Six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust simply because of who they were and millions more killed because they were sympathetic to the Jewish people or because of their own immutable characteristics, she said.
“To compare the actions taken by Nazi Germany to a public health discussion is ill-informed and it’s inappropriate,” Clark said. “I would also say that it is sad and ironic that anyone would draw an analogy from the largest recorded genocide in the 20th century with public health attempts to save lives.”
Clark said she hopes that the people will speak out against the use of Holocaust analogies.
“We should all strive to learn from the atrocities of the Holocaust by treating each person with dignity and respect when we agree, and especially when we disagree,” she said.
A message left at the Oklahoma City’s Republican Party headquarters was not returned Friday, and John Bennett, the party chairman, did not return an email seeking comment.
It wasn’t clear who made the post, but it was still up on Friday afternoon.
On Monday, State Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, sent a letter to Stitt calling for a legislative special session to prevent all private businesses from requiring vaccinations. Eighteen Republicans signed onto that letter.
And on Wednesday, 19 Republican lawmakers called on Pinnell to take executive action in his role as acting governor to prohibit COVID-19 vaccine mandates for Oklahoma health care workers.
Under the state constitution, the lieutenant governor serves as Oklahoma’s top executive when the governor is out of state. Gov. Kevin Stitt has been abroad on a state-sponsored trip to Azerbaijan.
Pinnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the post and its use of Holocaust imagery.
The Oklahoma Republican Party is not the first to draw ire for using Holocaust references during the pandemic. In June, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylore Greene, R-Georgia, apologized after equating Capitol mask requirements to the Holocaust. A Washington state lawmaker also reportedly apologized after wearing a Star of David sticker to protest vaccine mandates during a June speech. And a Nashville hat shop faced backlash in May for selling yellow Star of David “not vaccinated” badges, according to media reports.
Janelle Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at email@example.com.