An Alaska lawmaker caused an uproar after comparing health screening stickers to the yellow-star badges that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust and then insisting that Adolf Hitler was not a white supremacist, The Washington Post has reported.
"If my sticker falls off, do I get a new one or do I get public shaming too?" wrote Rep. Ben Carpenter on Friday in an email to 29 colleagues, asking "Are the stickers available as a yellow Star of David?"
One Jewish representative replied to the email, writing "Ben, This is disgusting." Another representative responded "I don’t think a tag that we’re cleared to enter the building is akin to being shipped to a concentration camp." The head of Alaska's House's Republican delegation told Carpenter to apologize.
"Can you or I — can we even say it is totally out of the realm of possibility that COVID-19 patients will be rounded up and taken somewhere?" Carpenter later said in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News. "People want to say Hitler was a white supremacist. No. He was fearful of the Jewish nation, and that drove him into some unfathomable atrocities."
The comments by the Alaska representative come amid a slew of similar comments by protesters opposed to stay-at-home orders who have compared the social distancing regulations to slavery and the Holocaust. Some governors have even been compared to Nazis, including Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the state's first Jewish governor.
US President Donald Trump expressed support for anti-lockdown protesters, in a series of tweets calling to "LIBERATE" a number of states under lockdown orders. In response to questions about the protesters, Trump stated "I think they'd listened to me. They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors," according to Business Insider.
Rep. Grier Hopkins, the Jewish representative who called Carpenter's message "disgusting" said he would be "happy" to have a dialogue about how these measures may infringe on the Constitution, but added that he hopes "he understands that this is not the Holocaust, and how that massacred 6 million Jews, and how genocide is not health mandates," according to the Washington Post.
In response to the backlash, Carpenter said he didn't intend to "rile somebody" and that he has "no ill will toward the Jewish nation and the Jewish people in our country." The representative argued that coronavirus measures are a slippery slope and claimed that the danger is past. "We have a way of life that is being threatened right now because we have shut down our economy," said Carpenter.
The representative continued to push the point on his statements on Hitler however, telling the Anchorage Daily News that "The point was that it was fear that drove him. The attention of his fear was undesirables, including Jews. And the larger point is that people followed him."
Another representative, Sarah Vance, stated that she wanted to "stay away from either condoning or condemning anything he said about (the Holocaust)," adding that "we should all be concerned about the implications of being labeled as ‘non compliant’ or wearing a badge of ‘compliance.'"