Ohio's Rep. Warren Davidson sparks controversy with comparison of vaccine, mask mandates to Nazi Germany

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  • Warren Davidson
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A Cincinnati-area Republican congressman drew a worldwide backlash for a tweet that compared mandates for COVID-19 vaccines and masks to practices in Nazi Germany.

Jewish organizations from around the world, including the Auschwitz Memorial, condemned the tweet from Rep. Warren Davidson, with some saying it's part of "a disturbing trend" to link vaccine mandates with the Holocaust.

Davidson tweeted out early Wednesday morning a picture of a "gesundheitspass" from Nazi Germany, which he purports was a "health pass" issued by the Nazis.

Davidson then added, "This has been done before. #DoNotComply"

The Republican from Troy represents a largely rural district in western Ohio that President Donald Trump won with 67% of the vote in 2020. It includes Cincinnati's northern suburbs in Butler County.

Davidson was responding to a tweet from Washington, D.C.'s mayor reminding people of a requirement to wear a mask and show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars and certain other public businesses.

Davidson then tweeted: "The Nazis dehumanized Jewish people before segregating them," and that led to the Holocaust.

"Dehumanization and segregation are underway, and wrong," Davidson tweeted.

The tweets resulted in a flood of condemnation online, with many calling for him to apologize and others questioning the historical accuracy. The management of the Auschwitz Memorial at the concentration camp in Poland responded that the tweet "is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay."

"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 limitation in the time of global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay."

The American Jewish Committee called on Davidson to apologize and remove the post.

Some questioned the purpose and accuracy of the document Davidson used in his tweet.

A search online turned up very little reliable information on a "gesundheitspass." The Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Council and Holocaust and Humanity Center could confirm it was a document issued by the Nazi Department of Health. But Jackie Congedo, the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, said she hadn't heard of a gesundheitspass before.

Either way, the Holocaust and vaccine mandates aren't comparable, she said.

"These kinds of comparisons are extremely hurtful, offensive, and beyond the pale of acceptable civic debate," Congedo said.

Davidson is the second Cincinnati-area lawmaker in the past year to stir controversy comparing regulations meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 with Nazi Germany.

Rep. Thomas Massie, the Republican who represents Northern Kentucky, tweeted, and then deleted, in August a photo comparing so-called vaccine passports to the identification numbers Nazis tattooed on people imprisoned during the Holocaust.

Congedo said the Jewish Community Relations Council has extended an invitation to Davidson, like they did Massie, to tour the Holocaust and Humanity Center. Massie did not take them up on the offer, she said.

"The Jewish community has reached out to the congressman, as we have done in the past with some of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle," Congedo said.

Messages to Davidson's office were not returned Wednesday.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Warren Davidson: Tweet compares vaccine/mask mandates to Nazi Germany

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