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April 6, 2021 12:01 pm
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Ohio Republicans Under Fire for Comparing US Government COVID-19 Policy With Nazi Germany

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Residents of Lima, Ohio receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Reuters/Megan Jelinger.

Two senior Republican politicians in Ohio have doubled down on comparisons they drew between the US government’s COVID-19 vaccination drive and Nazi Germany’s repressive actions, despite receiving criticism from Jewish leaders in the Buckeye state.

Ohio State Rep. Kris Jordan of Delaware county was taken to task for a March 31 Facebook post in which he warned that the pandemic would result in the US becoming a dictatorship, and made a sarcastic reference to the cattle trains used by the Nazis to deport Jews and others to concentration camps. “It’s just a mask, wear it. It’s just a shot, take it,” Jordan wrote. “It’s just a boxcar, get in. Every step away from freedom is a step closer to dictatorship.”

Meanwhile, Josh Mandel — a Republican candidate for the US Senate — explicitly referenced the Nazi regime in a recent tweet attacking proposed vaccination passports.

“Let me get this straight – during Covid @Walmart was allowed to stay open while small biz had to shutdown, some permanently. And now @Walmart is pushing for a ‘Vaccine Passport’?!?”  Mandel posted. “We’ve seen this before… Nazi Germany also registered citizens. Our Liberty is under attack!”

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Three days later, Mandel invoked the feared Nazi secret police, this time in an attack upon the Biden Administration’s gun control proposals.

“Hey @JoeBiden, before you send in the Gestapo you might want to reflect on this: The 2nd Amendment is to defend the 1st Amendment and to protect us from government tyranny,” Mandel wrote on Twitter.

Both Jordan and Mandel were contacted by the Ohio Capital Journal on Monday and asked to justify their comparisons between US government policy and Nazi Germany.

“I believe that Americans should pay attention to history,” Jordan told the newspaper in a statement. “And there are unfortunately more than a few bad chapters in the collective history books. Our freedoms must never be taken for granted, and it is our duty to stay vigilant as our sacred rights have slowly but surely been chipped away at during the pandemic.”

In his response, Mandel emphasized that he was an American Jewish military veteran descended from Holocaust survivors.

“Josh is a proud American, proud Marine and proud Jew,” Scott Guthrie, Mandel’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, Josh has been involved with Holocaust remembrance his entire life and he’s not going to stop speaking truth to power.”

Jewish leaders in Ohio expressed concern that comparisons with Nazi Germany were spiraling out of control. During the last year, other Republican politicians have made similar assertions, among them the statement made by State Sen. Andrew Brenner that he would not allow Dr. Amy Acton — the Ohio Department of Health director, who is Jewish — to turn the state into “Nazi Germany.”

“We’re happy to have a policy discussion about (COVID-19), but it doesn’t make it OK to just immediately jump to ‘This is Nazi Germany,'” Howie Beigelman, the executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, told the Ohio Capital Journal. “It’s not. It never is. It doesn’t matter who the president is, the governor is, which party it is. There’s never a reason in America in 2021 to make those comparisons.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) regional director, James Pasch, said that drawing comparisons with the Nazis was insulting to the memories of their victims.

“Anyone who makes that analogy dishonors the memories of those that were murdered by the Nazis,” Pasch said. “Period.”

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