It was a contentious debate in the House and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, May 6. Legislators were arguing House Concurrent Resolution 58.
Under the resolution, written by Rep. Blake Miguez (R-Erath), Governor Edwards would no longer be able to declare a public health emergency, at a time of clear emergency.
Despite the inflamed opinions on either side of the issue, Rep. Dodie Horton (R-Haughton) decided to light a proverbial match.
She compared the stay-at-home restrictions to living under “Nazi Germany.”
Ironically, Rep. Horton was primarily concerned with her inability to attend church on Sundays during the lockdown.
“What happened to separation of church and state?” she first queried, neglecting to mention that the public health order did not specifically target any religious practices.
“Can the fire marshal still be able to go in and close a business down [under HCR 58]? Can the Department of Health still close down restaurants? Our tax dollars – are they paying for that?”
“I mean, are we in Nazi Germany?”
Nobody in the legislature took pains to explain that a state measure to save lives is nothing like Nazi Germany, when individuals were deliberately detained and exterminated on the basis of their ethnicity.
To gain perspective on the issue, Big Easy Magazine spoke to Aaron Ahlquist, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s South Central Region.
“To make a comparison of the Governor’s order to protect the health and welfare of the residents of Louisiana to a brutal regime that intentionally tried to exterminate the Jewish people and other vulnerable communities, is not only inaccurate, but cheapens the horror of Nazi Germany and the losses experienced by the victims,” Ahlquist said.
According to Mr. Ahlquist, the tactic of drawing crude analogies between the public health lockdown and a brutally fascist regime is not unique to Rep. Horton in Louisiana. “The Representative’s comments are one of a growing number of examples” of people “evoking the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust to score a cheap political point,” Mr. Ahlquist observed.
An Anti-lockdown protester in Illinois held up a sign that said “Heil Pritzker,” referring to the state’s governor, who is also Jewish.
Another protester in Chicago boasted a sign that said “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work Sets You Free.”
That same sign was on the gates of Auschwitz.
In Idaho, well-known extremist Ammon Bundy compared measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the actual genocide of Jewish people.
Despite being in this dubious company, Rep. Horton doubled down, even bragging about her comment on her Facebook page.
Here, Rep. Horton is clearly suggesting that being able to report public safety violations to the Department of Health is akin to the atrocities of the Third Reich.
It is difficult to truly find words to explain the massive gaffe that is Representative Horton’s comparison. Most Americans have not experienced a lockdown of this nature, and it is undoubtedly trying for many of us.
We must, however, take pains to explain this. Representative Horton is free to attend church online, to worship freely in her home, and to practice social distancing (or not), without fear for her life or liberty.
The Anti-Defamation League “call[s] upon Representative Horton to apologize for her comments, and to reflect upon her word choices for the future.”
To the survivors who were imprisoned and threatened with extermination under Nazi occupation, this lockdown is nothing like what they have been through. To make any such comparison cheapens their lives. To make any such comparison cheapens the memories of those lost under fascist regimes – whether in Nazi Germany,
As for Big Easy Magazine, we emphatically say: No, Representative Horton, the coronavirus safety measures are not like living in Nazi Germany.
To view the video of Rep. Horton’s comments, with context, click here, and fast forward to 1:27:00.