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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Sam Page Helpfully Reminds You that Masks Are Not the Holocaust

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2021 at 6:20 AM

click to enlarge An anti-vaccine protester outside Mercy Hospital in St. Louis holds up a sign comparing a vaccine mandate for employees to Nazi policies. - VICTOR STEFANESCU
  • An anti-vaccine protester outside Mercy Hospital in St. Louis holds up a sign comparing a vaccine mandate for employees to Nazi policies.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page convened a press conference Monday to note that a cloth face covering is actually not the same thing as the Holocaust — a reminder he directed at speakers at recent county council meetings

"In the pushback to science and public health experts, some people are comparing efforts to save lives during the pandemic to Nazi Germany," Page said. "I've had members of our Jewish community contact me, hurt and bewildered by the behavior that's allowed to proceed at recent council meetings."

During last week's August 10 meeting — which featured the council rejecting an attempt to institute a mask mandate in St. Louis County — multiple speakers went out of their way to describe their tenuous grasp of science as a concept, with many taking the time to explain their preferred conspiracy theory for why COVID-19 doesn't actually exist.

Of course, COVID doesn't care about conspiracy theories. With nurses and medical experts reduced to begging the still-unvaccinated public to stop filling their hospitals with dead and dying patients, local government meetings have become a theater for absurd claims. At one point, YouTube temporarily removed the video of the August 10 meeting in St. Louis County for violating the platform's rules against vaccine misinformation.

But for Jewish leaders in St. Louis, the meeting represented another example of people using the Holocaust as a convenient prop to justify their paranoia.

The first speaker of the August 10 meeting alleged that a proposed mask mandate was a component of "a clear agenda to promote a dystopian techno medical dictatorship, a one-world government" — and then claimed, incorrectly, that the vaccines violate the Nuremberg Code, a set of research ethics instituted after World War II to prevent future versions of the medical atrocities conducted in concentration camps.

Another speaker opposing health measures against COVID-19 referenced David Icke, a noted conspiracy theorist who believes the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a factual account about the rulership of a reptilian race of alien shapeshifters.

"There is no virus," the speaker argued, and then posed a rhetorical question to the council members: "What did the Nazis say? They said the bigger the lie the more we'll believe it."

Joining Page during Monday's press conference, Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation said that the comments comparing a mask mandate to the murder of millions "is not only disrespectful, but dangerous."

Stacey Newman, a former Democratic state representative who also addressed Monday's press conference, noted that members of the local Jewish community, including her own family, are descendants of people who survived or escaped the Holocaust. She said she was "appalled" that the speakers were not "gaveled down" when their remarks slid into "hate speech."

But Newman also said she wasn't surprised. She referenced an August 11 Facebook post by one of her former colleagues in the legislature, now-state Senator Mike Moon. In the post, Moon attacked Gov. Mike Parson for tepidly acknowledging the fact that there's a difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

In response, Moon wrote, "How about a Missouri-shaped patch we can wear on our chests? A yellow-colored patch would be nice..."

click to enlarge moon_yellow_star_post.jpg

In her remarks, Newman said that these sorts of Holocaust comparisons "are now a regular feature of these mad protests around the state, around the country," and added, "It's time for us to take such displays for what they actually are — the mark of a hate group."

It's not just crackpots in St. Louis County or the most extreme members of the Republican state assembly spinning Holocaust fantasies. The day before the St. Louis County council meeting, more than a dozen people showed up to a Springfield city council meeting wearing yellow stars — actions that drew condemnation by a councilman at the meeting, who called the stunt "an act of moral outrage" and "an attempt to downplay the enormity of the Holocaust," the Springfield News-Leader reported.
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That's the kind of response that Newman and other Jewish community members want to see from St. Louis Council Chair Rita Heard Days.

"We demand that you cut off and refuse to allow any further hate speech in public commentary in future meetings," Newman said Monday, addressing her remarks to Days. "There can be no more hate-filled conspiracy theories targeting our medical and public health communities."

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. E-mail the author at
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