The Potluck

Jensen: Yes, I was comparing COVID-19 restrictions to Nazism

By: - August 23, 2022 4:31 pm

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen speaks as supporters cheer behind him at a rally at an Apple Valley Cowboy JackÕs Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen on Tuesday said his past comparison of COVID-19 public health policies to Nazism was “legitimate.”

Back in April, Jensen said the steps taken to curb COVID-19 spread were comparable to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, citing Kristallnacht — two nights in November when violent mobs destroyed synagogues, businesses and homes. Likening COVID-19 policies to a repeat of Nazism were justifiable, Jensen said in a video posted to his campaign Facebook page on Tuesday.

“I want to speak to a little bit of a hubbub that’s been in the media lately about whether or not I was insensitive in regards to the Holocaust. I don’t believe I was,” Jensen said.

Jensen and his running mate Matt Birk are scheduled to speak at a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening.

“I think it’s a legitimate comparison. It may not strike your fancy — that’s fine — but this is how I think, and you don’t get to be my thought police person,” Jensen said.

Jensen made his April remarks at a MaskOffMN event. The group has called the government’s response to COVID-19 “a fraud,” and falsely claims vaccines are not safe.

At the event, Jensen explained why it was important to question government officials.

​​“If you look at the 1930s and you look at it carefully, we could see something’s happening. Little things that people chose to push aside. ‘It’s going to be okay.’ And then the little things grew into something bigger. Then there was a night called Kristallnacht. The night of the breaking glass,” said Jensen, whose comments were also reported Monday by TCJewfolk

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas has stated in the past that “Contemporary comparisons to Nazis, coming from anywhere on the political spectrum, are almost always historically inaccurate, insult the memory of the Holocaust’s victims and survivors, and are deeply hurtful to most Jews and others whose communities were victimized.”

The group invited Jensen to a discussion about why they find the analogy offensive.

Jacob Millner, Minnesota regional director for the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement that it is “extremely disappointing” that Jensen made the comparison and affirmed it on Tuesday.

“We call upon Jensen to refrain from further Holocaust comparisons,” Millner said. “Instead, he should seek to better understand the severity of the Holocaust and realize there is no comparison to the horror it inflicted on millions of innocent people.”

Jensen ended his Tuesday video by saying he’s allowed to analyze and think about things how he sees fit.

“I’m passionate in my support of the state of Israel, as well as the Jewish people,” Jensen said.

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues. For two years she was also a corps member with Report for America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms and news deserts. She lives in St. Paul and likes to knit and watch documentaries in her free time.

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