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Backlash against US store selling yellow star anti-vaccination patches

Nashville store excoriated on social media and targeted by protesters; iconic hatmaker Stetson says it will no longer do business with shop selling ‘not vaccinated’ badges

A yellow Star of David Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis, is seen with other belongings of holocaust survivors from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp that are on display at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Jan. 24, 2005 (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
A yellow Star of David Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis, is seen with other belongings of holocaust survivors from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp that are on display at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Jan. 24, 2005 (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

WASHINGTON — A hat shop in the US state of Tennessee was hit with backlash on Saturday, one day after promoting a yellow star patch like those worn by Jews in Nazi-era Germany, labeled “not vaccinated.”

It was the latest skirmish in the culture war surrounding COVID vaccination in the United States, which has suffered the highest death toll of any country in the pandemic.

Iconic American hatmaker Stetson said Saturday it would no longer do business with the Nashville shop HatWRKS, which was excoriated on social media and targeted by protesters.

On Friday, HatWRKS shared on its Instagram account a now-deleted photo announcing the arrival of the $5 patches. It showed a woman, reportedly the business owner, wearing a yellow Star of David with the message “not vaccinated” on her black T-shirt.

“Your Nazi star badges are perhaps the most offensive, anti-Semitic thing I’ve ever seen,” one user posted on the business’s Facebook page, summing up the social media outcry in response to the post, while others used the hashtag #HATEWORKS.

Local media showed a few dozen protesters outside the shop on Saturday, including some who held up a banner declaring “No Nazis in Nashville!”

And Stetson, known for its Western hats, said on Saturday that “as a result of the offensive content and opinions shared, Stetson and our distribution partners will cease the sale of all Stetson products to HatWRKS in Nashville.”

The business, which regularly posted content on social media expressing views against coronavirus restrictions and US Democratic President Joe Biden, replaced its controversial post with another one addressing its critics.

“People are so outraged by my post? but are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing?” it said. “if you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you, not me.”

Israelis wearing yellow Stars of David saying ‘not vaccinated’ protest in Tel Aviv, on February 15, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

The HatWRKS controversy came the same week that Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene repeatedly equated COVID mask mandates with Nazis forcing Jews to wear yellow stars.

“Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star,” the freshman Republican from Georgia tweeted about a business making its employees who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus wear a vaccination logo on their name badge.

She was sharply criticized by leaders of both political parties.

Biden on Friday deplored recent anti-Semitic attacks in the United States, saying in a statement: “We cannot allow the toxic combination of hatred, dangerous lies, and conspiracy theories to put our fellow Americans at risk.”

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