By staff and wire reports
Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie stirred outrage among state and regional Jewish leaders last week when, in a tweet, he compared public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 to the Holocaust, posting an image of a hand with a number tattooed to its wrist.
Massie, a Republican, represents the 4th Congressional District, which includes suburban areas of Cincinnati, and stretches to the outer reaches of Lexington and Louisville.
“If you have to carry a card on you to gain access to a restaurant, venue or an event in your own country … that’s no longer a free country,” read the text in the image Massie tweeted, which he deleted shortly afterwards.
The tweet drew a sharp rebuke from James Pasch, regional director of Cleveland Office of ADL, which covers Kentucky.
“There’s no place for this rhetoric of comparing health measures in the time of COVID to the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust,” Pasch said. “There are no similarities, and every time a politician does this, it dishonors the millions of people who were murdered by the Nazis. It has to stop, and the congressman needs to apologize.”
Likewise, Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, of the Chabad of the Bluegrass, called Massie’s tweet “offensive.”
“This shameful tweet shows tremendous ignorance of public policy, history and a horrible lack of judgment,” Litvin said. “While we are relieved the congressman deleted the ill-thought-out tweet, such comments must be repudiated.”
Massie’s tweet got an extra burst of attention after one of his interns resigned in a letter that he posted to Twitter, where it went viral.
The intern, Andrew Zirkle, called his former boss’s post antisemitic.
“The tweet that Congressman Massie tweeted last night, in which he compared vaccine passports to the Holocaust, was insensitive to not only survivors of the Holocaust, but the millions who perished as a result,” Zirkle wrote. “The anti-semetic[sic] nature of this post is beyond apology and as a result, I cannot in good conscience continue at my current position.”
In subsequent tweets, Zirkle apologized for misspelling the word antisemitic. He also expressed surprise about how widely shared his resignation letter had been, saying that his tweet “was mostly supposed to be for folks who knew me personally.”