(JTA) – The Democratic-led Michigan House passed a resolution Thursday condemning “inappropriate, repugnant Holocaust comparisons,” a day after the state’s Republican Party sent a widely reviled tweet comparing gun reforms to the Holocaust.
The resolution passed by voice vote, meaning the chamber’s Republicans did not have to take a position on their party’s tweet. The party chair has defended and refused to apologize for the tweet.
Introduced by Jewish state Rep. Samantha Steckloff and sponsored by several other House Democrats, the resolution condemns “divisive rhetoric” and specifically mentions Republicans.
“A substantial number of Republican leaders and other public figures in Michigan and across the United States have compared the Holocaust as a means to criticize gun control measures, to protest against abortion laws, and speak in favor of denying women access to reproductive health care,” the resolution states.
The offending tweet used an image of wedding rings the Nazis seized from Jews at the Buchenwald concentration camp as a way of protesting gun reform legislation, which Democrats advanced yesterday. “Before they collected all these wedding rings,” the image text on the tweet reads, “they collected all the guns.”
Kristina Karamo, the newly elected Michigan Republican chair, defended the tweet in a series of statements and at a press conference Wednesday.
“We are not the Republican Party who apologizes and runs away from our positions,” she said, adding that people get “way too offended” and that the tweet was meant to “point to history.”
While Michigan is a purple state, Republicans are currently the minority party in the state, having lost control of both legislative chambers and all major statewide races in the most recent election. The state party has also trended toward extremist and conspiratorial beliefs in recent years: Karamo, the party’s secretary of state nominee in 2022, refused to concede her election, while the most recent attorney general nominee is being investigated on charges of illegally accessing and tampering with election equipment.
Detroit’s Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC joined local and national organizations in condemning the tweet and calling on the party to delete it, saying in a statement, “It is beyond reprehensible that a political party should use images from the Holocaust to score cheap points.” Its director, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, challenged Karamo about the tweet at her press conference.
Longtime norms in American electoral politics against Holocaust comparisons have fallen away in recent years, and Democrats in Michigan have also employed Nazi comparisons. The state’s attorney general Dana Nessel, who is Jewish, compared former President Donald Trump to Hitler in a 2020 speech at the state’s nominating convention. She did not intend it as a favorable comparison.
“Hitler, by all accounts, could read and write,” Nessel said, according to reporters, “and he also was brave enough to serve in his nation’s military.” Nessel’s office defended her comments at the time, as Republicans condemned her for “trafficking in Holocaust denial.”
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