Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has emerged as one of the most controversial members of the U.S. House of Representatives since taking office earlier this year. She often cites far-right conspiracy theories, drawing the ire of her political opponents – not to mention the medical community.
Scientists and Jewish Americans alike are slamming the lawmaker for comparing President Biden’s door-to-door plan to reach to unvaccinated people to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.
Comparing Vaccinations to “Medical Brown Shirts”
President Biden has been adamant about getting as many Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 as possible. The administration recently fell short of its goal to get 70% of adults to sign up for at least one shot by July 4th. Vaccination rates have been declining across the U.S., especially in southern and western states, as the Delta variant continues to spread. Instead of mandating vaccinations, the president is trying to persuade unvaccinated Americans that getting their shots is in their best interest.
On Tuesday, Biden said it’s time for the vaccination campaign to take a new approach. “Now we need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and oftentimes door-to-door – literally knocking on doors – to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus,” he told reporters.
The announcement drew backlash from those on the right.
Rep. Greene reposted the video of Biden’s announcement on Twitter with the caption, “People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations. You can’t force people to be part of the human experiment.”
The term “medical brown shirts” refers to the Sturmabteilung, a paramilitary group that helped Adolf Hitler rise to power in Germany in the 1930s and 40s by targeting Jewish citizens.
To be clear, the administration isn’t forcing anyone to get vaccinated. The president has the authority to mandate vaccines among the military, but declined to do so earlier this year.
Greene also claimed, “Biden pushing a vaccine that is NOT FDA-approved shows COVID is a political tool used to control people.” All three of the vaccines being administered in the U.S. have emergency approval from the FDA but lack full approval.
Previously, Greene also compared rules requiring lawmakers to wear face masks in the Capitol Building to Nazi Germany, including that they reminded her of how Jews were forced to “wear a gold star” and then were “put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany.”
However, she apologized for her comments at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial just last week. Speaking to a crowd, she said, “there is no comparison to the Holocaust” and called it “appalling” that some people will “minimize it and downplay it or don’t even know about it.”
Greene wasn’t the only one to speak out against Biden’s plan to go “door-to-door” to increase vaccination rates.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), reacted to the announcement with, “How about don’t knock on my door. You’re not my parents. You’re the government. Make the vaccine available, and let people be free to choose. Why is that concept so hard for the left?”
“How will the government know who is vaccinated or not for this kind of targeting?” wrote conservative columnist Ashe Short.
Backlash, Fast and Swift
The Jewish community was quick to react to Greene’s comments.
CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Eric Fingerhut, said Greene’s “repeated use of Nazi imagery to discuss public health issues is outrageous, offensive and unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, Joel Rubin, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, called on the politician to resign. “Rep. Greene continues to prove that there is no limit to her brutal trivialization of the Holocaust for her own personal political power,” he told Newsweek.
“The Holocaust and Jewish suffering is not a prop for her delusional views comparing efforts to save lives through vaccines with the most heinous, systematic state-sponsored slaughter of millions of innocent victims,” Rubin added.
During a press conference, reporters asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the backlash over Biden’s plan to go door-to-door.
She said the vaccination campaign “is about protecting people and saving lives. That’s a role we’re going to continue to play from the federal government and use any of the tools and tactics that we think will be effective.”
She added “that one of the biggest barriers is access. And people knowing when they can get the vaccine, where they can get the vaccine, the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. It’s up to every individual to decide whether they’re going to get vaccinated.”
Going door-to-door may be the one of the only ways to get more Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus, but it’s safe to assume that the government isn’t going to force the general public to get their shots.