TN senator uses Hitler as example of homeless person who 'made history'

The state senator made the comments during a debate on a bill to combat homeless camps.

 Tennessee state flag (photo credit: Thomas R Machnitzki/Wikimedia Commons)
Tennessee state flag
(photo credit: Thomas R Machnitzki/Wikimedia Commons)

Tennessee State Senator Frank Niceley presented Adolf Hitler as an example of a homeless person who "got into the history books" during a debate on a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for a person to solicit or camp by a highway or exit ramp.

"I haven't given y'all a history lesson in a while and I wanted to give you a little history on homelessness," said Niceley on the Senate floor. "In 1910, Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced his oratory and his body language and how to connect with the masses and then went on to lead a life that's got him in the history books."

The state senator stressed that this showed that for homeless people "it's not a dead end. They can come out of these homeless camps and have a productive life or in Hitler's case a very unproductive life."

Tennessee State Senate Chamber (credit: Terrancee/Wikimedia Commons)Tennessee State Senate Chamber (credit: Terrancee/Wikimedia Commons)
  • The bill - SB1610/HB0978 - would make it a Class C misdemeanor in the state of Tennessee for people to:Solicit from the roadway, shoulder, berm, or right-of-way of a controlled-access highway or entrance or exit ramp of such highway;
  • Camp on the shoulder, berm, or right-of-way of a state or interstate highway; or
  • Camp under a bridge or overpass, or within an underpass, of a state or interstate highway.

The bill would also make it a Class E felony offense to camp on any public property in Tennessee.

The penalty for breaking the law would be a warning citation for a first offense and a $50 fine or 20-40 hours of community service or litter removal for a second or subsequent offense.

Tennessee State Representative Gloria Johnson responded to Niceley's statements on Twitter on Thursday, writing "TN Senator says Hitler made something of himself after being homeless & you can too. I’m going to have to apologize to the universe for this guy...not a single day passes without TN GOP embarrassing the hell out of our state."

This isn't the first time a Republican politician has gotten into hot water for mentioning Hitler positively.

On January 6, 2021, just hours before Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, Republican US Rep. Mary Miller told a rally in front of the Capitol that "Hitler was right on one thing. He said, 'Whoever has the youth has the future.'"

In Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender claimed that, in 2018, former US president Donald Trump told then chief of staff John Kelly that "Hitler did a lot of good things." A Trump spokesman called the claim "made up fake news."