A day after a video came out of Minnesota Republican governor candidate Scott Jensen comparing Gov. Tim Walz’s mask mandates to Kristallnacht, Jensen spoke on a Facebook Live video and doubled down.
“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. “I was making a comparison between the incremental change that frequently occurs and is oftentimes missed by people living through it at the time. It’s oftentimes incremental change designed by government to effect sweeping societal changes, frequently centering on compliance and control.”
Jensen is scheduled to appear, along with Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and auditor, as well as all four candidates challenging the DFL members of congress, at a Republican Jewish Coalition forum on Tuesday night at the Barry Family Campus. The event is not open to the media.
In the latest video, Jensen then read the famous words of German theologian Martin Niemoller, and concluded by saying he was “passionate in my support of the State of Israel, as well as the Jewish people.”
Jensen said that he thinks the comparison is a legitimate one.
“So when I make a comparison that says that I saw government policies intruding on American freedoms incrementally, one piece at a time, and compare that to what happened in the 1930s, I think it’s a legitimate comparison,” he said. “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’s Tuesday afternoon video was in response to a video, first reported by TC Jewfolk, about comments he made at a Mask Off Minnesota event in April.
“As is the case with so many powerful initiatives like Mask Off, it starts with one thing, but it becomes another and another and it expands. If you remember, go back to World War II. If you look at the 1930s and you look at it carefully, we could see some things happening. Little things that people chose to push aside. ‘It’s going to be okay,’” Jensen said. “And then the little things grew into something bigger. Then there was a night called Kristallnacht. The night of the breaking glass. Then there was the book burning, and it kept growing and growing, and a guy named Hitler kept growing in power, and World War II came about. Well, in a way, I think that’s why you’re here today. You sense that something’s happening, and it’s growing little by little.”
“Such comparisons are extremely wrong for all the reasons we’ve stated in the past,” said Ethan Roberts, the director of government affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, which has made at least two different statements on the issue. “We invite Dr. Jensen to meet with the JCRC to discuss why such comparisons are so damaging.”
Jacob Millner, the Minnesota regional director of the American Jewish Committee, said Jensen’s comments were “extremely disappointing.”
“To equate a public health emergency with Kristallnacht, a terror spree in Germany that destroyed Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues, is not a legitimate comparison,” he said. “We call upon Jensen to refrain from further Holocaust comparisons. 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.”
The Anti-Defamation League said that comparisons like Jensen’s are “generally not indications of antisemitic animus; however, they are often used to further a political agenda. Such references are outrageous and may be profoundly hurtful to Jews, many of whom lost family members or carry memories of the trauma suffered by their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents during the destruction of European Jewry.”
The Jensen campaign and the RJC have not returned calls or emails seeking comment.