Winona LaDuke, an environmental activist and former Green Party vice-presidential candidate, has apologized for comparing the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota to the Holocaust.
On the Twin Cities Public Television show Almanac last week, LaDuke, an outspoken critic of the pipeline project, said: “So, you know, there’s some people that are up there trying to get some money because it’s a really difficult time in the north. But you know what? It’s kind of like getting a job in the gas chamber. That’s a great job to have, but it’s really not the job you want to have for the long term and that’s what this pipeline is like. It’s like the ecological equivalent to Auschwitz. That’s what this pipeline is. So I don’t want to work in the gas chamber and I don’t want an Auschwitz,” she said.
The clip is below and she starts around the 39-minute mark.
“I apologize for any hurt I have caused the Jewish community with my remarks regarding the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Tar Sands,” she said in the apology sent to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. “That analogy is inappropriate. I grew up with stories of the Holocaust and have Jewish ancestry. I did not intend to hurt anyone and recognize your concerns. Let us work together for a better future for all.”
JCRC Executive Director Steve Hunegs said that he appreciated both the apology, and the acknowledgment that the analogy was inappropriate.
“We look forward to continuing our conversation with Ms. LaDuke and are pleased to accept her offer to work together for the betterment of everyone,” he said. “For decades the JCRC has spoken out against the misuse of the Holocaust in public discourse. We’ve done so because contemporary comparisons to Nazis, coming from anywhere on the political spectrum, are almost always historically inaccurate, insult the memory of the Holocaust’s victims and survivors, and are deeply hurtful to most Jews and others whose communities were victimized.”
Mike Fernandez, a senior vice president at Enbridge, called for an apology earlier in the day on Wednesday.
“This is outrageous on so many levels,” he said. “Comparing Enbridge workers to those who worked at the Auschwitz gas chambers during World War II is both disturbing and appalling. Casually invoking the horrors of what millions of Jews suffered through during the Holocaust is insensitive and reckless.”
The JCRC has worked overtime this year in publicly condemning comparisons between the Nazis and rules put in place to keep people safe during the ongoing pandemic, particularly when those don’t take responsibility – check out their statements on April 19, July 26 and 27, August 5, and October 16, as well as comments to the Mesabi Tribune on August 6).
“Whenever possible, the JCRC always prefers to engage in conversation and mutual understanding rather than condemnation,” Hunegs said. “We are glad that because of Ms. LaDuke’s gracious note we have that opportunity. We look forward to the work ahead.”