Current GOP Chairman John Bennett is no friend to religious minorities in Oklahoma, but his most recent actions go far beyond his usual repertoire of COVID conspiracies.

On Friday, July 30, he posted on the official Oklahoma GOP Facebook page a picture of a yellow Star of David with the word “unvaccinated” stamped on the star in the place one would have been identified as “Jew” in 1940s Germany. The post encourages “patriots” to contact the lieutenant governor and urge him to call a special session to prohibit employers from requiring employees to get vaccinated.

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In what world is a vaccine against a virus that has killed over 600,000 Americans and 7,400 Oklahomans tantamount to Nazi persecution of Jews? How is a job or a vaccine you can choose to have, or not have, equivalent to state-mandated murder based on ethnicity?

This inappropriate allusion has been made by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R- Ga.) and Washington State Rep. Jim Walsh (R) who wore a yellow Star of David on his chest during a COVID vaccine protest. For some reason, using the Holocaust to further a political agenda remains as an acceptable tactic — perhaps because it allows one side to present themselves as innocent victims persecuted by evildoers.

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It may feel clever to call upon this stark contrast of good versus evil to make a political point; the historical imagery is tempting, and the stark framing puts people squarely in one polarized camp or another. However, these comparisons to Nazi Germany, the equation of Jews to the unvaccinated, are a horrific minimization of the profound suffering of the Jewish people and disrespectful to the memory of those lost to genocidal hatred. It is wholly inappropriate to compare the deliberate actions of the Nazis who murdered millions to a virus that kills regardless of political affiliation or religious belief.

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Countless people of conscience have called out Bennett for his incessant hatred of Muslims when he served in the state Legislature. We were warned that if people in leadership do not speak out against his fanaticism, it would only worsen. Those who propagate hatred against one group of people rarely stop at that single group, and now we’re bearing the cultural and political burden.