Oklahoma GOP likens vaccine mandates to persecution of Jews

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Republican Party faced fierce criticism Friday for a Facebook post likening COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the persecution of Jewish people in Nazi Germany.

The post on the party’s official Facebook page urged people to call the lieutenant governor and ask him to call a special session to prohibit employers from requiring their employees to get vaccinated. It featured a picture of a yellow Star of David with the word “unvaccinated” on it and said: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Roberta Clark, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, called the post “highly inappropriate” and urged party officials to apologize.

“To compare the actions taken by Nazi Germany to a public health discussion is ill-informed and inappropriate,” Clark said. “An apology is really appropriate, and it shows leadership and sensitivity to the harmful impact this has made.”

John Bennett, the party’s new chairman, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message left at the party’s headquarters.

The party’s vice chairman, Shane Jemison, said Friday he wasn’t certain who created the post, but called it “beyond abhorrent.”

“Equating the possibility of private entities requiring their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to the Holocaust is beyond abhorrent, disgraceful and a gross misrepresentation of the Republican Party and its values here in Oklahoma and nationally,” he said in a written statement.

Last month, Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, apologized for comments she made comparing the required wearing of safety masks in the House to the horrors of the Holocaust.

It’s not the first time the state party, or Bennett, has faced criticism for posts on Facebook.

In 2015, then-Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon apologized for a post that likened food stamps to feeding wild animals.

The following year, Bennett, then a state lawmaker, posted a news story on Facebook critical of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and added the comment, “2 words … firing squad.”

At the time, Bennett defended the comments as “sarcasm,” and said he wouldn’t wish death upon anyone or encourage violence toward any candidate.

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