A Republican lawmaker in Alaska slammed plans to introduce a sticker system to show they have been screened for the coronavirus when they return to the State Capitol next week by comparing it to Nazi Germany’s system for identifying Jewish people.
Rep. Ben Carpenter of Nikiski vented his frustration at the safety measures which will be in place when legislators reconvene in Juneau on Monday to approve federal coronavirus relief.
Under new protocols to protect against COVID-19, lawmakers will be screened when entering the building. They will then receive a sticker to show they have been screened.
In an email exchange with dozens of members of the House, Carpenter suggested: “How about an arm band that won’t fall off like a sticker will?”
“If my sticker falls off, do I get a new one or do I get public shaming too? Are the stickers available as a yellow Star of David?,” he added.
Two Jewish members of the Legislature who were in the exchange were quick to condemn Carpenter for his remarks.
“Ben, This is disgusting. Keep your Holocaust jokes to yourself,” wrote Democrat Rep. Grier Hopkins.
Rep. Andy Josephson added: “I don’t think a tag that we’re cleared to enter the building is akin to being shipped to a concentration camp.
“It’s more akin to needing a boarding pass when you get through TSA. This is that.”
Speaking to the Associated Press, Carpenter defended his remarks as he was attempting to bring up issues of constitutional rights and freedoms.
“The point is, tying it to the Star of David shows, who amongst the human population has lost their liberties more than the Jewish people?” he said. “And if there were more people standing up for the loss of liberties prior to World War II, maybe we wouldn’t have had the Holocaust.
“This is about the loss of liberties within our people, and we’re just turning a blind eye to it,” he said, adding fears over COVID-19 are causing governments to bring in policies that “don’t make any sense.”
Speaking to the Anchorage Daily News, Hopkins reiterated that using Carpenter’s use of Holocaust rhetoric to air his grievances was in poor taste.
“If he wants to have a conversation about constitutional rights, that’s a discussion we can have, but likening it to genocide is completely erroneous and wrong” Hopkins said.
There are 383 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alaska, with 10 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. In total, 250,747 people have managed to recover from the virus across the U.S.
A chart, provided by Statista, showing the 10 states across the U.S. with the most coronavirus cases.