JCRC and JHM condemn AZ representative’s Holocaust analogy

The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and the Jewish History Museum & Holocaust History Center in Tucson today issued a statement strongly condemning statements made by Arizona Representative John Fillmore likening the tattooing of Holocaust victims to government mask-wearing mandates issued to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Rep. Fillmore stated during a rally at the Arizona state Capitol on September 7, 2020 that requiring people to wear masks is analogous to “the 1930s in Germany, when people on their own bodies were tattooed.” The reality is that there is absolutely no comparison between the hardship of mask mandates and the genocidal persecution of Holocaust victims. The comparison issued by an elected official is extremely offensive and serves to trivialize and distort Holocaust memory.

“Nazi SS authorities tattooed serial numbers on prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp in the 1940’s as a system of identification. The Nazis used this system of identification to dehumanize prisoners. Survivors of Auschwitz were left with a permanent physical scar, a reminder of the horrors they experienced. Mask-wearing mandates are not being enforced to dehumanize, in fact they are required as an act of community care intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention along with the World Health Organization endorse the widespread use of masks and social distancing as preventative methods. These are simple and practical ways to care for each other and protect human lives.

“We call on Rep. Fillmore to issue a retraction of his statement and apologize to all who have been impacted by the Holocaust. There is no place in our civil society or government for ill-advised comparisons to the Holocaust. ”

The statement was signed by Maurice Goldman, chair of the JCRC, and Sol Davis, executive director of the Jewish History Museum.