You’d think one reminder every few years would be enough for Minnesota’s Republican candidates and officials to stop posting memes about the Holocaust.
And yet, here we are, trying to teach the same lesson for the second time in a matter of weeks.
The first was for a meme posted to the Wabasha County Republicans Facebook page, which pictured a prisoner in a concentration camp wearing the Star of David on his shirt, and compared it to Minnesota’s policies on mask-wearing in public spaces.
After it was determined that the page had not, in fact, been “hacked," as suggested by Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Jennifer Carnahan, and that a county party official had posted the image, the state party issued a statement of apology and called it “disappointing.”
Then, along came the second, this time posted by Republican-endorsed Minnesota House candidate Julie Buria, a realtor and Mountain Iron City Council member running to represent her corner of the Iron Range in House District 6B, currently represented by freshman Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL-Aurora).
The seat's reliably DFL-leaning, so Buria has her work cut out for her in winning over voters. So far, they've learned she's pro-life, pro-law enforcement, pro-mining -- and amateur at the Facebook.
This post from her personal Facebook page, screenshotted by Jewish Community Action, showed Nazi officials checking papers, as well as ditches filled with the bodies of murdered concentration camp prisoners.
“Any government with enough power to demand that you carry papers in order to move around freely is far more dangerous than COVID-19,” the caption said.
JCA pointed out that this was “just days” after the Wabasha incident, tagged the Republican Party, and asked, “Where is the bottom?”
Just days after public acknowledgment from @mngop that the Wabasha GOP's Holocaust-themed meme was offensive, their endorsed House candidate in 6A (and sitting Mountain Iron City Council member) shared this meme on her FB page. Where is the bottom?— Jewish Community Action (@JCA_MN) July 30, 2020
CW: Graphic Holocaust imagery. pic.twitter.com/3Yc2cy6ySs
The post has since been deleted, and Buria’s personal Facebook page made private.
According to the Mesabi Tribune, Buria initially expressed contrition for the post. On Saturday, Carnahan issued a statement saying Buria was “sincere in her apology to not let it happen again.”
“As we said earlier [in reference to the Wabasha County post], we are saddened by these vitriolic posts and hope as we move forward that Republicans and Democrats alike will maintain the highest level of integrity, respect, and sensitivity,” she told the Tribune.
Buria’s campaign didn’t respond to interview requests. But on Monday, she reportedly appeared at the Mountain Iron City Council meeting and claimed she had been “forced” to apologize. (The state party didn’t respond, either, so we don’t know if that’s the case, or who forced her.)
Buria said the coronavirus response in Minnesota is a “parallel” to the Holocaust. Her husband, a truck driver in Mountain Iron, had previously come home with a slip of paper identifying him as an essential worker and being instructed to have it on him in case he was stopped by law enforcement for whatever reason. She insisted “Jews are not offended” by her comparison, and that the criticism being levied against her is “asinine and trumped up.”
“This is what’s happening to our freedom and this is what happens,” Buria reportedly said. “Never again let the government overreach to this degree, and here we are. Did I compare it to that? Absolutely.”
Several supporters in the crowd reportedly received her words with applause, according to the Tribune.
Others are withholding theirs. Mountain Iron Mayor Gary Skalko and Range Association Municipalities and Schools Director Steve Giorgi both said Buria should resign from her post on the council. On Twitter, Giorgi called Buria’s apology “hollow.”
Your attempt at an apology rings hollow. Time to accept your fate and resign from the Mt. Iron city council. https://t.co/1SkEgKCZqc— Steve Giorgi (@giorgi_steve) July 31, 2020
In addition to Jewish Community Action, Bend of the Arc: Jewish Action also called out the comparison as anti-Semitic. As it happens, the group has been specifically exploring the connection between anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism, and COVID-19.
“Right-wing movements are using COVID-19 to fuel dangerous conspiracy theories and grow their base,” Bend the Arc’s action page says. “Right-wing politicians and pundits are amplifying those conspiracies to deflect attention away from the ways they have allowed this pandemic to spread.”