There are plenty of reasonable and acceptable ways to express frustration about public policy.
As we learned over the weekend, wearing a literal swastika as a facemask while running errands at the Marshall, Minnesota Walmart is not one of them.
And neither is the above Facebook meme, which appeared on the Republican Party of Wabasha County Facebook page this week.
Screenshots of the post show a photo of a concentration camp, featuring a prisoner with the star of David pinned to his chest.
“Just put on the star and quit complaining, it’s really not that hard,” the caption above reads. Below, it continues: “Just put on the mask and stop complaining.”
The post refers to the statewide mask mandate put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The virus has infected more than 51,000 Minnesotans and killed over 1,500 people over the past several months.
Jewish Community Action tweeted a screenshot of the post on Monday, issuing a swift condemnation and asking the Minnesota Republican Party to step up and take care of it.
Given that Minnesota rabbis recently spoke out in favor of a mask mandate, comparing that mandate to the Holocaust feels especially disgusting. We ask the @MNGOP to tell Wabasha Republicans to stop using imagery like this. It betrays a total lack of both empathy and education. pic.twitter.com/xGMT3cUvvo— Jewish Community Action (@JCA_MN) July 27, 2020
You can’t find that post anymore (outside of screenshots). In fact, the entire Republican Party of Wabasha County Facebook page has vanished.
The Republican Party of Minnesota wasn’t immediately available for comment, but Chair Jennifer Carnahan issued a statement on Monday saying the party had “immediately” reached out to the Wabasha unit to investigate.
“Our party does not support/condone divisive and harmful posts or language of this nature, Carnahan wrote.
She also suggested this post wasn't even their fault.
This post was brought to @mngop's attention today. Immediately we reached out to the Wabasha board. They believe this was a hack and are removing their FB page immediately. Our party does not support/condone divisive and harmful posts or language of this nature. https://t.co/AbufDMXA45— Jennifer Carnahan (@jkcarnah) July 28, 2020
No such luck, it tuurns out. On Tuesday afternoon, Carnahan posted an update, regretfully reporting that the page was not, in fact, "hacked," and that the offending picture had been posted by the party's county chair. Carnahan said the chair had resigned, and the party was "saddened by the vitriolic post."
Upon further investigation, the @mngop learned the Wabasha County FB page was not hacked last night, as believed by Wabasha Chair. The offensive picture was posted by a board member who has resigned effective immediately at the our request.— Jennifer Carnahan (@jkcarnah) July 28, 2020
This is hardly the first time the party has had to handle this kind of problem. Last year, the Clay County Republican Party Facebook page shared a post comparing Bernie Sanders – a Jewish man who’s spoken publicly about his father’s family having been “wiped out” by the Holocaust – to Hitler.
Jewish Community Action called that one “ridiculous” and “anti-Semitic," while the RPM issued a similar statement about not condoning “these actions or their sentiment” and asking for the Facebook post to be removed.
This latest incident also comes on the heels of another high-profile occurrence this month, in which a Kansas Republican Party county official named Dane Hicks published an editorial cartoon comparing the mask mandate to being ushered onto a "cattle car," presumably to be taken to a death camp.
At first, Hicks refused to apologize to his myriad critics, whom he called "liberal Marxist parasites," but he changed his tune and issued a contrite statement by the time the week was out.
We'll see if Wabasha's Republicans wind up getting to the bottom of this "hack" -- or coming clean.