he Oklahome Republican Party shared a meme to Facebook on Friday that compares people who choose not to get vaccinated to Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.
The post presents itself as a call to action for “PATRIOTS” and features an image of a yellow Star of David badge, not unlike the ones that Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust, marked “unvaccinated.” The badge image also includes a type of serial number, date, and what looks like a microchip.
“STATUS: – RESTRICTED,” reads text on the meme image. “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 healthcare. WAKE UP PEOPLE – Is this sounding familiar?”
Text from the lower portion of the meme continues, “Those who don’t KNOW history are DOOMED to repeat it.”
Above the image, the party appeals for its followers to contact Republican Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, in lieu of Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is overseas, in order to “politely request he call for a special legislative session to address private employer VACCINE mandates, or their employees face risk of termination.” It notes that state employees are “currently protected” by previous legislation against vaccine mandates.
The state’s top Republicans—Stitt, Pinnell, U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat and Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall issued a joint statement condemning the meme on Friday night.
“It is irresponsible and wrong to compare an effective vaccine—developed by President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed—to the horrors of the Holocaust,” the group said in the statement, which was obtained by Newsweek. “People should have the liberty to choose if they take the vaccine, but we should never compare the unvaccinated to the victims of the Holocaust.”
Several Facebook responses to the post quickly expressed outrage over the comparison. One Jewish commenter said that she was “completely disgusted” with the party for making the “false comparison,” while another person said it was “an abhorrent comparison and completely out of line.” Local Jewish leaders also blasted the party for sharing the meme.
“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,” Roberta Clark, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, told The Norman Transcript.
“To compare the actions taken by Nazi Germany to a public health discussion is ill-informed and it’s inappropriate,” she added. “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.”
Other prominent Republican figures have also drawn ire for claiming that those who refuse to abide by public health restrictions that mandate COVID-19 vaccinations in certain situations, or private businesses that require vaccines, are somehow being discriminated against in ways that are similar to what millions of Jews experienced during the Holocaust.