Furor in Nashville Over Sale of ‘Not Vaccinated’ Patches That Mock Yellow Star Forced by Nazis on Jews
Iconic American hat maker Stetson has pulled its products from a store in Nashville, Tennessee in protest at the owners’ decision to sell patch copies of the “Judenstern” — the yellow Star of David which Jews under Nazi rule were forced to wear on their outer clothing — marked with the words, “not vaccinated.”
“We are aware of the situation in Nashville. We take this matter seriously and are investigating in order to take the necessary and appropriate next steps,” the company stated on Twitter. “Along with our distribution partners, Stetson condemns antisemitism and discrimination of any kind.”
The owner of the HatWRKS store in Nashville, Gigi Gaskins, sparked outrage on social media over the weekend when she posted a photograph of the offending patches to her Instagram feed.
“Patches are here!! They turned out great,” she wrote alongside. “$5 each. Strong adhesive back. We’ll be offering trucker caps soon.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, far right activists in the US and Europe have consciously compared public health measures such as mask-wearing and mass vaccinations with the Nazi racial laws that resulted in the slaughter of six million Jews during the Holocaust.
One meme that has been highly visible at demonstrations and on the internet involves appropriating the “Judenstern” and swapping out the word “Jew” for “not vaccinated.”
Last week, far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) was widely excoriated for a tweet in which she stated, “Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s (sic) forced Jewish people to wear a gold (sic) star.”
Gaskins’ post advertising the patches led to demonstrations outside her store mounted by anti-racist and anti-fascist activists. Placards at the protest declared “End HatEworks” and “The Holocaust is Not a Marketing Opportunity.” A large banner hung along the front of Gaskins’ store read, “No Nazis in Nashville.”
Gaskins initially sounded a defiant note, telling critics on social media: “People are so outraged by my post? But are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing? If you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you not me. I pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence and compliance.”
However, she later apologized, and clarified that she “did not intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people.”
In another post, Gaskins said that she had removed the initial post advertising the patches and that these were no longer available.
“Many people have emailed, but I will not be selling them or giving them away,” she wrote.