A pattern is emerging wherein protesters are taking on Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s stay-home policy for the covid-19 pandemic with comparisons of the Jewish governor to Nazi Germany.
“You saw some of the signs. You saw the vehemence that people are carrying those signs with swastikas and pictures of Adolph Hitler, references to me and my family,” Pritzker said. “Yeah, I’m concerned.”
A protester in the state capital in Springfield was spotted on May 1 by reporter Mike Miletich of local NBC News affiliate WGEM, holding a sign that read “Heil Pritzker” beside a swastika.
Meanwhile, up in Chicago where a simultaneous rally was held at the State’s Jim Thompson Center, a counterprotesting registered nurse captured the image of a protester carrying a sign with the infamous inscription above the gate to the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp, “Arbeit Macht Frei, JB.”
Under the governor’s executive order, business owners commit a misdemeanor violation by putting people at risk by reopening. “Under that existing law,” the governor said, “law enforcement can issue a citation to the business.”
Who can ever forget learning about the six million European Jews issued misdemeanor citations during World War II in their Holocaust Studies class. Never Again, right?
This cynical exploitation of a brutal program of genocide is hardly limited to the rabble-roused teabagger faithful, either. On Sunday night, May 17, DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick posted a status on his Facebook page accusing the governor of threatening his office with a denial of reimbursement and grant funding for not enforcing the executive order. “We are not stormtroopers,” the sheriff wrote. “We are peacekeepers.”
In the face of Illinois counties acting independently in defiance of the statewide order for the stay-home policy, the governor stated several enforcement actions available for getting counties to comply. “Counties that try to reopen in defiance will not be reimbursed by FEMA for damage they cause themselves,” Pritzker said. “Local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police can and will take action.”
The governor’s counterthreat caused a bumper crop of budding Sheriff Joes and Sheriff Clarkes to bloom. On Wednesday, May 13, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association issued its own declaration of outrage, accusing Pritzker of “insulting heroic police officers, corrections officers and local voters.”
The day that the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association issued their statement, Illinois reported its highest single-day total of 192 more covid-19 deaths. Governor Pritzker pushed back, saying “You weren’t elected to do what is easy. You were elected to do what’s right. I don’t have sympathy for those so intent on disregarding science and logic, so afraid to tell their communities what they don’t want to hear, that they put people’s lives at risk.
“There is no consequence I can impose that is greater than the harm you will do to your own communities,” Pritzker continued. “I don’t know how to make this more real for you. More people will get sick and die if we don’t stay the course. Be a responsible public servant. Step up and lead. Now, more than ever, your communities need you. Don’t let them down.”
To say that the perspective of local Republican leadership is in way over its collective head would be putting it mildly.