Wabasha County GOP shares meme likening mask-wearing to Holocaust

The group removed its Facebook page after sparking complaints.

A Republican group in Minnesota was the subject of complaints after sharing a meme on Facebook that likened the wearing of face masks to the Holocaust.

The post appeared on the Facebook page of the Wasbasha County Republicans, showing an old man wearing a yellow star badge in front of a Nazi officer. 

The meme says "Just put on the star and quit complaining, it's really not that hard. Just put on the mask and stop complaining."

Jewish people were legally compelled to wear the stars to identify them in Nazi Germany, and according to the Holocaust Memorial Center is was one of the ways in which the Jewish community was dehumanized and isolated, ultimately ending with the deportation and murder of 6 million in the Holocaust.

Equating this practice with the face mask mandate in Minnesota and other states, which have been implemented to help contain the spread of COVID-19, led to complaints of antisemitism being leveled against the county group.

"Given that Minnesota rabbis recently spoke out in favor of a mask mandate, comparing that mandate to the Holocaust feels especially disgusting," Jewish Community Action Minnesota wrote on Twitter.

"We ask the Minnesota GOP to tell Wabasha Republicans to stop using imagery like this. It betrays a total lack of both empathy and education."

On Monday evening, Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan – who has herself been an outspoken opponent of the mask mandate and has compared Gov. Tim Walz to Kim Jong-Un – issued a statement in response to the controversy.

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She said the Minnesota GOP reached out "immediately" after it was brought to its attention, Wabasha County group was removing its Facebook page, saying they "believe this was a hack."

She later clarified on Tuesday that this was not the case, and was actually posted by a board member who resigned "immediately at our request."

"Our party does not support/condone divisive and harmful posts or language of this nature."

The post came in the same week that a couple protesting the mask mandate turned up at a Walmart in Marshall, Minnesota, wearing swastika masks.

The Auschwitz Memorial has also responded to memes comparing mask mandates to Nazi Germany, saying this week: "A mask is not a yellow star. Such a comparison is disrespectful to Jews humiliated by it during the Holocaust. Wearing a mask is a sign of our moral responsibility for the safety of us all. It protects health & lives."

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