Wabasha County GOP Links Nazis, Mask Ordinance; Board Member Resigns

After claiming Monday night that the Wabasha County Republican Party Facebook page had been hacked, Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan tweeted that an anti-Semitic post that compared the Holocaust to Gov. Tim Walz’s mask mandate was made by a board member.

On Monday afternoon, the organization shared a photo of a Nazi officer speaking to a man wearing a Star of David pinned to his jacket. The text above the photo said “Just put on the star and quit complaining, it’s really not that hard,” and below the photo: “Just put on the mask and quit complaining.” The original poster had the photo with the comment: “History is repeating!”

The post — and the group’s Facebook page — were deleted later Monday night.

“This post is appalling. As we stated over the weekend, to compare public health measures to Nazi orders for Jews to wear yellow badges is reprehensible and wholly inaccurate,” said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. “We demand the Republican Party of Wabasha County remove the post and apologize. We are requesting a meeting with GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan to express our dismay and demand a plan to halt these absurd and offensive comparisons.”

Carnahan did apologize for the post on behalf of the county and state GOP.

Carnahan was made aware of the post by a tweet from Jewish Community Action.

Wabasha County is southeast of Red Wing and north of Rochester along the Mississippi River. The post has drawn more than 50 comments condemning the group for the post.

The Facebook post came two days after a Marshall, Minn. couple was asked to leave that city’s Walmart after wearing masks with swastikas on them. They has been banned from all Walmart stores for a year. (Video is here, but here’s your language warning).

“What happened today at our store in Marshall, MN is unacceptable. We strive to provide a safe and comfortable shopping environment for all our customers and will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment in any aspect of our business,” a Walmart statement said. “We are asking everyone to wear face coverings when they enter our stores for their safety and the safety of others and it’s unfortunate that some individuals have taken this pandemic as an opportunity to create a distressing situation for customers and associates in our store.”

The swastika mask drew a rebuke from Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“We denounce this hate symbol and all hate speech targeting the Jewish community and stand in solidarity with those impacted by the bigotry these individuals displayed,” he told KARE 11 “All Americans must work to dismantle the systemic racism that continues to target minority communities.”

The first incident comparing the Holocaust to the mask ordinance came last week when St. Cloud City Councilman Paul Brandmire said that COVID-positive individuals should be marked with a yellow star on their lapel. Jewish Community Action, in its tweet calling for the post to removed, noted that this came after a recent call by the Minnesota Rabbinical Association for Walz to enact a statewide mask ordinance.