State Watch — Verizon
GOP Alaska legislator compares coronavirus screening sticker to Nazi Germany’s Star of David
A Republican state lawmaker in Alaska is facing backlash from Jewish legislators after he compared coronavirus safety measures at the statehouse to the Nazi treatment of Jewish people.
Alaska state Rep. Ben Carpenter (R) complained about the new health screening required for lawmakers returning to the Capitol building this week, Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.
In an email copied to all 40 members of the Alaska House, Carpenter reportedly ranted about legislators being asked to wear a sticker proving they’ve passed the screening.
“How about an arm band that won’t fall off like a sticker will?” Carpenter wrote. “If my sticker falls off, do I get a new one or do I get public shaming too? Are the stickers available as a yellow Star of David?”
His message was immediately condemned by two Democratic members of the legislature who are Jewish, the outlet reported.
“Ben, This is disgusting. Keep your Holocaust jokes to yourself,” Rep. Grier Hopkins (D) wrote before adding that, “Putting other people at risk because somebody doesn’t want to get a medical test to make sure they’re not carrying a disease that will kill others is NOT the same as labeling and targeting a group of people for genocide through hatred and ignorance.”
“I don’t think a tag that we’re cleared to enter the building is akin to being shipped to a concentration camp,” state Rep. Andy Josephson (D) responded in the thread. “It’s more akin to needing a boarding pass when you get through TSA. This is that.”
The exchange, first published by The Alaska Landmine, showed Republican state Rep. Sarah Vance coming to Carpenter’s defense.
“We should all be concerned about the implications of being labeled as ‘non compliant’ or wearing a badge of ‘compliance,’” she wrote.
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) May 15, 2020
Alaska’s House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt (R) said Carpenter’s emails were not appropriate and called for him to apologize.
In an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, Carpenter said he didn’t intend to “rile somebody” and certainly has “no ill will toward the Jewish nation and the Jewish people in our country.”
However, he said coronavirus safety measures were being blown out of proportion.
“We have a way of life that is being threatened right now because we have shut down our economy,” Carpenter said. “Yes, somebody might get sick and somebody might die, but our way of life will continue. And right now, our way of life is in jeopardy.”
He continued to tell the outlet that the state was heading down a slippery slope. While the level of regulations did not match Nazi Germany’s extermination camps, those were not built overnight.
“Can you or I — can we even say it is totally out of the realm of possibility that COVID-19 patients will be rounded up and taken somewhere?” Carpenter said. “People want to say Hitler was a white supremacist. No. He was fearful of the Jewish nation, and that drove him into some unfathomable atrocities.”
Carpenter sent a follow-up text message to the Anchorage Daily News after the initial publication of the article elaborating on his point.
“Hitler wasn’t fearful of a Jewish nation because there was not one. The point was that it was fear that drove him. The attention of his fear was undesirables, including Jews. And the larger point is that PEOPLE FOLLOWED HIM.”
Hopkins rejected Carpenter’s argument.
“That’s not what led to the Holocaust,” he told the outlet. “There was no Jewish nation at that time. It didn’t exist. And using that term is anti-Semitic and a misunderstanding of history. … If he wants to have a conversation about constitutional rights, that’s a discussion we can have, but likening it to genocide is completely erroneous and wrong.”