PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker is under fire after he made comments linking mask mandates to help fight the spread of COVID-19 to the Holocaust.
At a Monday “Freedom Rally,” state Rep. John Fillmore specifically compared potential government mandates to the tattooed serial numbers carved into the skin of Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps.
In a statement to 12 News, Fillmore stated in part that his comments were centered around a fear of the second wave of government overreach, saying:
"Laws, rules and regulations will be started from fear, fanned by opportunists, which shall wrap us up in forced or mandatory vaccinations, lockdowns, and drastic fear-laden draconian rules. No government should ever have any right to, nor the ability to, say to its citizens they must ingest, take, inject or drink any serum into their own, (or without parental consents their child’s) bodies or tattoo on their bodies as the Germans did in the Holocaust in the 1930s.”
The quote is different than reported elsewhere. As The Arizona Republic said while speaking about mask mandates, the representative said, "It's reminiscent of the 1930s in Germany, when people on their own bodies were tattooed."
“I thought it was completely out of line,” Dr. Alexander White, 97, a Schindler survivor, said. “How do you compare the two, it doesn’t make sense?”
White was part of Schindler's List, made up of people who avoided concentration camps by working in German-controlled factories.
Even still, he knew the prosecution and restrictions.
“During the Holocaust, you had to wear the armband, you had to wear the striped shirt," White said.
However, for many others, it was much worse.
"Forty kilometers to the east of us, and they were killing people by the thousands and tens of thousands," White said.
White said any comparison with the mandates of today and those in effect in Nazi Germany is completely different.
“One was something you were forced to do, and if you didn’t do it you were shot. Here, most they can do is take you to court,” White said.
In a statement, Fillmore said he could have picked a better analogy but did not apologize. The statement reading in part:
"I have and had never meant to denigrate or belittle in any way the atrocities of what happened in the Holocaust and perhaps that was a bad analogy. I did say it though, and I assume full responsibility for it. I do not apologize for what I said though and now see that perhaps there might have been a better analogy. I am not responsible for how others see this or feel about it. It is what they want it to be, to me, it was the words I used and take responsibility for but I never meant ill will in my statements and meant no harm."
“He did apologize that his statement makes no sense, so I can forgive him for that,” White said.
We did reach out to Arizona’s Republican Party about the statement but have not received a response.