A Washington state lawmaker wore a yellow Star of David on his chest at a Saturday event, comparing unvaccinated people to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, the Seattle Times reported on Wednesday.
State Rep. Jim Walsh (R) was speaking at a “Patriot Gathering” meeting organized by the conservative group Washingtonians for Change, and can be seen in a Facebook video wearing the star. He said he was given it by a member of the crowd, many of whom were also wearing them, the Times reported.
“It's an echo from history. See my note below,” Walsh said in a comment under his video. “In the current context, we're all Jews.”
Jews throughout Nazi-controlled countries in Europe were forced to wear the stars so that they could be identified. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum notes that the badges were a prelude to the Nazis deporting Jews to ghettos and to concentration camps. Six million Jews were killed as part of the Holocaust.
The use of the badges by people opposed to vaccinations, which are not being forced by the government, has been deeply offensive to a number of Jewish groups. Stories have popped up over the last year about the badges being misappropriated in a variety of ways by people opposed to steps governments have taken related to the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, a store selling hats in Nashville gained attention for handing out "not vaccinated" badges in the image of yellow stars.
The executive director of Seattle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity Dee Simon told the Times that comparing vaccinations to the Holocaust is “is offensive to descendants of Holocaust survivors and people who lost family and friends."
“The Holocaust, when you tear it down to the bare bones, was the systematic annihilation of a people, with the intent of destroying a race,” Simon said.
Walsh wouldn’t share if he had received a vaccine shot during the interview, the Times noted.
“Some people are offended by having to provide vaccine documentation at their work,” Walsh told the Seattle news organization when asked about wearing the star. “I can’t control who is offended by what.”
The Hill has reached out to Walsh’s office and the Washingtonians for Change for comment.