Did Scott Jensen Triple Down On Holocaust Comparisons? You Betcha!

Scott Jensen’s appearance at Tuesday night’s Republican Jewish Coalition was an opportunity to quell the controversy over the Republican gubernatorial candidate comparing masking requirements to the Kristallnacht and Nazi book burning. Jensen, however, decided to keep the story going.

In audio released Wednesday by Heartland Signal, Jensen said that the mandates placed by Gov. Tim Walz during the height of COVID-19 “has parallels” to the rise of the Nazis.

“What happened with the 1933 banning of books, banning of Jewish authors, burning of books, Kristallnacht in 1938. This was a sequence of events that should never have been happening,” Jensen said. “We’re seeing the same thing in America today. We are seeing people having their businesses locked down so they cannot care for their families. We are seeing people say wear masks, don’t wear, mask wear masks, but we don’t know what to do.

“Minnesota, like never before, needs to lean into the Jewish tradition of what do they do in Israel. They refuse to back down. They fought tooth and nail. They took the fight to whoever they had to. They knew that their God had called them to do this. We’re no different right now.”

TC Jewfolk first broke the news of a video from April of Jensen speaking to a Mask Off Minnesota event, where he first made the comparisons.

“As is the case with so many powerful initiatives like MaskOff, 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.”

On Tuesday, in response to the initial blowback, he hosted a Facebook Live video where he defended the comments, saying in part:

“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.”

Ethan Roberts, the director of governmental affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, had invited Jensen to sit with the JCRC staff to hear why they feel the comparison is misguided.

“Since April of 2020, we have been saying, over and over, to the point where I’m feeling like no one is listening, that these comments are inflammatory and they trivialize the Holocaust,” Roberts said. “They just are wrong; so wrong. I understand he is trying to talk about incrementalism but why can’t Dr. Jensen find some other analogy that doesn’t involve, first, the dehumanization of my people? And the systemic murder and genocide of my people?”

Beth Gendler, the executive director of Jewish Community Action, is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, and was incredulous at the comparison.

“Policies that are implemented to save lives and keep all of us safe are nothing like the policies in Nazi Germany that forced my grandparents out of their home, separated them from their children, and ultimately murdered them in Auschwitz,” Gendler said. “The false equivalence is not only damaging and wrong it is deeply hurtful, especially coming from someone who is running to represent all Minnesotans.”

Jensen’s initial comparison was criticized by Rep. Dean Phillips, Attorney General Keith Ellison, the Minnesota DFL, and the Jewish Democratic Council of America