A meme that compares the requirement to wear a mask during the coronavirus to the yellow Stars of David that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust appeared on the Facebook page of a Republican organization in Minnesota.
The Facebook page of the Republican Party of Wabasha County, where the meme was posted over the weekend, was taken down by Monday evening, according to local reports. The organization told the state Republican Party that it had been hacked.
The meme shows an elderly man wearing a yellow Star of David badge pinned to his chest facing down a Nazi officer.
“Just put on the star and quit complaining, it’s really not that hard,” its caption said. “Just put on the mask and stop complaining.”
The state of Minnesota has a mandatory mask ordinance in effect. On Saturday, a couple protested the ordinance by wearing Nazi swastika masks in a Walmart in Marshall. They were removed from the store and banned from entering any other Walmart facility for a year.
In response to the meme, the Jewish Community Action organization tweeted a screenshot of the meme and added: “Given that Minnesota rabbis recently spoke out in favor of a mask mandate, comparing that mandate to the Holocaust feels especially disgusting. We ask the @MNGOP to tell Wabasha Republicans to stop using imagery like this. It betrays a total lack of both empathy and education.
Given that Minnesota rabbis recently spoke out in favor of a mask mandate, comparing that mandate to the Holocaust feels especially disgusting. We ask the @MNGOP to tell Wabasha Republicans to stop using imagery like this. It betrays a total lack of both empathy and education. pic.twitter.com/xGMT3cUvvo
— Jewish Community Action (@JCA_MN) July 27, 2020
Jennifer Carnahan, chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, responded with a tweet on Monday night.
“This post was brought to @mngop’s attention today. Immediately we reached out to the Wabasha board. They believe this was a hack and are removing their FB page immediately. Our party does not support/condone divisive and harmful posts or language of this nature.”
She retweeted the screenshot with the message.
Last year, the Republican Party of Clay County, Minnesota, compared Jewish Sen. Bernie Sanders to Hitler in a post on Facebook. The party later apologized and deleted the post, explaining that it was posted by a volunteer. Sanders has spoken frequently about how much of his family was wiped out by Hitler and the Nazis.
There have been other incidents of people using Holocaust references, and in particular the yellow star, in connection to coronavirus measures.
In June, the German city of Munich banned the display of yellow stars at anti-lockdown demonstrations.
Alaskan lawmaker Republican Rep. Ben Carpenter of Nikiski drew criticism in May when he asked other legislators in an email chain whether stickers that individuals may be asked to wear as part of a Capitol coronavirus screening process will be “available as a yellow Star of David.”