Greene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Monday apologized for comparing COVID-19 vaccine and mask rules to the Holocaust, declaring that “there is no comparison” between the safety measures and the genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II.
Greene delivered the public apology following a visit earlier Monday to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum weeks after she drew condemnation from fellow Republicans for the remarks over the long Memorial Day recess.
“I have made a mistake,” Greene told reporters. “I wanted to say that I know that words that I’ve stated were hurtful, and for that I am very sorry.”
Monday’s public apology was a reversal from last month, when Greene doubled down on her comments comparing COVID-19 safety measures to Jews being singled out by the Nazis.
The comparisons began when Greene criticized Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for requiring masks on the House floor after the Centers for Disease Control Prevention announced that people who are fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks in most settings.
At the time, Pelosi expressed skepticism that some Republicans would abide by an honor system. Greene, who has declined to say whether she is vaccinated, was among at least six Republicans who were issued $500 fines for refusing to comply with the House floor mask requirements.
“You know, we can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany,” Greene said on the right-wing network Real America’s Voice. “And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”
Greene then tweeted in response to a news report about a Tennessee grocery store requiring vaccinated employees to display vaccination logos on their name badges, writing, “Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.”
Greene noted that she previously visited the Auschwitz concentration camp as a teenager and was not unfamiliar with the history of the Holocaust. But she wanted to visit the Holocaust museum on Monday, her first day back in Washington since she made her remarks, to offer a symbolic gesture.
“Going to the Holocaust museum was just a good reflection,” Greene said. “It’s not something I was unfamiliar with. But I wanted to go there today because it’s important to remember.”
At the same time, Greene held firm that she still believes vaccine or mask mandates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are forms of “discrimination.”
“I believe that forced masks and forced vaccines or vaccine passports are types of discrimination. And I’m very much against that type of discrimination. What I would like to say is I’m removing that statement completely away from what I had said before,” Greene said.
“I just want to say there is no comparison to the Holocaust, and there never should be,” she added.
It’s hardly the first time Greene has sparked controversy.
House Democrats and 11 Republicans voted in February to remove her from her committee assignments over her past comments before serving in Congress that appeared to endorse violence against Democrats and suggest that school shootings were staged.
Greene has since distanced herself from some of her past rhetoric, stating in a House floor speech on the day of the vote to kick her off committees that she no longer believes in the QAnon conspiracy theory, that school shootings are “absolutely real” and that 9/11 “absolutely happened.”
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), who is Jewish, said last month that he was crafting a resolution to censure Greene over her comments comparing pandemic rules to the Holocaust.
“Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to debase not only the memory of 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, but all those who fought and died defending Democracy against Hitler and his evil,” Schneider said at the time.
House GOP leaders also condemned Greene’s rhetoric, increasing the pressure on her to back off the Holocaust comparisons.
“Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said last month.
Greene’s apology comes as Republicans have sought to take punitive action against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for appearing to equate the U.S. and Israel with Hamas and the Taliban. A group of a dozen Jewish Democrats, including Schneider, asked Omar to “clarify” her comments last week.
Omar said that a tweet from her account was taken out of context, as she was asking Secretary of State Antony Blinken about ongoing investigations before the International Criminal Court regarding alleged war crimes by the U.S. and the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as Israel and Hamas in the Gaza conflict.
“I was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems,” Omar said.
While Democrats have accepted Omar’s clarification and sought to move on, a group of Republicans introduced a resolution to censure her and other progressive members of the so-called squad for allegedly “defending foreign terrorist organizations and inciting anti-Semitic attacks across the United States.”
Greene took a shot at Omar on Monday, saying that “there is no comparison between our American military and the Israeli military to the Taliban or any other terrorist organization.”
But when asked if she would be more careful about her own rhetoric going forward, Greene offered no sign that she’d try to turn down the temperature.
“I think it’s good to learn lessons. But you’re always going to see me being very real with my thoughts,” Greene said.