GOP congressman apologizes for comparing vaccine mandates to the Holocaust

Representative Warren Davidson
Representative Warren Davidson Photo credit Getty Images

A Republican Congressman from Ohio is taking back his words after comparing coronavirus vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.

Representative Warren Davidson on Wednesday made a comparison between the Nazi's persecution of Jewish people during the Holocaust and the U.S. government's treatment of unvaccinated people.

Davidson made the comments while replying to a tweet from Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, which reminded residents to carry proof of their vaccination status.

"Remember that starting Saturday you will need these three things before heading out," Bowser tweeted. "1. Proof of Vaccination (12 years +) 2. Proof of Vaccination and Photo ID (18 years +) 3. Mask."

Davidson replied with an image of a Gesundheitspass -- a so-called "health card" the Nazi government demanded people carry -- along with the caption, "This has been done before. #DoNotComply."

"Let's recall that the Nazis dehumanized Jewish people before segregating them, segregated them before imprisoning them, imprisoned them before enslaving them, and enslaved them before massacring them," Davidson tweeted. "Dehumanizing and segregation are underway - and wrong."

The comments drew a response from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum in Poland, which criticized Davidson for "exploiting" the Holocaust.

"Exploiting of the tragedy of all people who between 1933-45 suffered, were humiliated, tortured & murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany in a debate about vaccines & covid limitations in the time of global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay," the memorial tweeted.

Several organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, also slammed the idea of equating mask and vaccination mandates with the murders of nearly 6 million Jews by the Nazis, calling Davidson's comments "deeply offensive."

"The reality is whether you're a Republican or a Democrat... to literally trample over history because of your own bizarre paranoia... does all of us an injustice," Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told CNN.

Davidson has since asked for forgiveness, saying "For my Jewish friends, and all others, my sincere apologizes." He led his apology with a quote from Mark Twain that says "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes."

"I had hoped to point that out," Davidson said. "Bad things happen when governments dehumanize people. Sometimes, there is a next step - to systematically segregate them. Unfortunately, any reference to how the Nazis actually did that prevents a focus on anything other than the Holocaust. I appreciate my Jewish friends who have explained their perspectives and feel horrible that I have offended anyone. My sincere apologies."