Amongst the hundreds of Friday afternoon protestors opposing the extension of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order were two with anti-Semitic ones: one sign read, “Heil, Pritzker” with a large swastika next to it, and another read, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” the German phrase for “Work Makes You Free,” which appeared over the entrance to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps.
These signs were all the more ominous seeing as Pritzker is Jewish.
Considering the far-right’s interest in white supremacy and nationalism — and President Donald Trump’s tacit approval of both — it’s not really surprising to see far-right protestors embracing Nazi slogans and symbols. Nor is it surprising to hear that yesterday’s protestors outside of the state’s capitol building in Springfield largely disregarded facial masks and social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of coronavirus.
That’s all the more troubling when you realize that Illinois is the fourth U.S. state with the highest number of coronavirus cases (56,055) and deaths (2,457). The state had its highest number of new cases (3,137) on Friday, the same day the protest occurred.
Jackie Fletcher, the woman holding the swastika sign, told her local NBC news affiliate that she had “Re-Open Illinois” written on the other side of her sign because “some people get touchy about swastikas.”
“I’m here to protest the loss of our rights,” she continued. “We’re protesting for our First Amendment and other things. Our speech isn’t really being prohibited, but our freedom is. We’re unable to leave the house and have to wear a mask.”
Yes, you know those Nazis and their love of facial masks and making people stay at home for public health reasons: apples to apples.
The Nazi signs are just the latest escalation in right-wing anti-quarantine protests. On Thursday, armed Michigan right-wing extremists carrying firearms took over the Michigan Statehouse in an armed occupation that largely lacked face masks and social distancing as well.
There are many reasons to want to re-open state businesses despite the pandemic. Democratic and Republican governors alike have begun gradual re-openings of their states to stop the epidemic’s ongoing economic devastation. But the protestors are overwhelmingly white, and the Nazi symbols and firearms carry violent overtones meant to warn any “outsiders” who oppose their desire to “go back to normal” as quickly as possible, even if it kills us.
— Election dot Org (@DotElection) May 2, 2020
This is disgusting.
“Arbeit macht frei” (Work will set you free) is the Nazi slogan that appeared over Auschwitz & other concentration camps.
JB Pritzker is Illinois’ Jewish Governor.
It’s not about freedom.
It’s about bigotry. Defying public health. Antisemitism. Terror. https://t.co/6tM3KXTIl2
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) May 2, 2020
This sign is targeting Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is Jewish. They're not even hiding it. pic.twitter.com/ML1SEquOgu
— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) May 2, 2020
This was one of the signs at the “Re-open Illinois” event today. She assured those that she was not a Nazi, and stated, “I have Jewish friends.” Thank you for representing yourself and your “movement” for what it is. pic.twitter.com/CcIX2SVu6s
— Dennis Kosuth, RN (@Dennis_Kosuth) May 1, 2020
Even if this person was trying to make the point that she thought Pritzker was being a Nazi(?), it doesn’t make sense since she’s the one who wants people to be able to work (to death)
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) May 1, 2020
Seen at the “re-open” protest in Illinois today.
Governor Pritzker is Jewish. pic.twitter.com/I9TCrMApXi
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) May 1, 2020
A few Things about these Illinois Nazi signs, which attack Governor Pritzker for trying to save lives:
#1 This moron is comparing A Jewish American to Hitler
#2 Putting a Swatzika on any sign is incredibly offensive to Jews
#3 Notice how these idiots are always near Trump flags pic.twitter.com/ltVtEkCQsL
— Ms. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) May 2, 2020
J.B. Pritzker may not be the best governor but this is fucking DISGUSTING. Comparing a Jewish man to Hitler is about ten thousand steps past too far. Fuck this woman. Fuck anyone who supports this. Springfield, I’m disappointed to be from here. pic.twitter.com/Kum2Qh9CUx
— samantha (@samantha_macke_) May 2, 2020
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QAnon Sends Death Threats to Gay Senator for Trying to Make Sex Laws Less LGBTQ-phobic
Democratic California State Senator Scott Wiener has received death threats from far-right supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory after he introduced legislation to reform the state’s sex offender registry to be less queerphobic.
Right now, California law allows judges to refuse to list the full names of certain offenders from the sex offender registry if the judge finds a valid reason to do so—let’s say, for example, if an 18-year-old has sex with a 16-year-old. The rule only applies for offenders who have sex with minor ages 15 to 17 and it only applies to penis-in-vagina sex.
As such, in any cases involving digital penetration, anal or oral sex—sexual methods often used by LGBTQ people—the judge has no choice but to list the offender’s full name without exception.
Wiener wanted to change the law to include all types of sex, and that’s when the death threats started pouring in.
“You’re dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. I’ll publicly execute you. I’m gonna embarrass you. Pedophile,” one Instagram user wrote.
Another wrote, “I’ll come cut your head off and deliver it to your mom if you even considering introducing your ‘bill.’ Got it?”
Others messages were anti-Semitic or accused Weiner of being a child rapist. Because it’s against the law for elected officials to block users on social media, all of his social media channels have to remain open to such threats.
The QAnon conspiracy theory believes that the Trump administration will expose a top-secret international child sex trafficking network run by “deep state” senior Democrats who are determined to stop Trump at all costs. Its theories infamously led an armed gunman in 2017 to enter a gay-owned Washington D.C. pizza parlor, Comet Ping Pong, to investigate “Pizzagate,” the claim that the pizzeria had child sex slaves locked in its nonexistent basement.
QAnon conspiracy theorists have become more active during the COVID-19 lockdown and the runup to the November 3 presidential elections as many U.S. residents find themselves at home without jobs.
“Whether its QAnon or Russian troll farms, these are factories of false info designed to undermine democracy and public discourse, and also to send a message to elected officials that if you pursue unpopular progressive change to help marginalized groups like queer kids, ‘We’re going to target you,'” Weiner told Mother Jones.
Racist, anti-abortion group plans in-person “straight pride” event in a U.S. COVID-19 hotspot
The so-called National Straight Pride Coalition (NSPC) is planning an event in Modesto, California for August 29, 2020—in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic—even though their 2019 event only drew dozens of attendees and 250 counter-protesters.
NSPC’s organizers told ABC 10 that the second annual Stanislaus County Straight Pride event is meant to be “a celebration of life in all of its aspects: masculinity; femininity; the natural family of man, woman, and children; children born and unborn; Western civilization; Christianity – everything which builds the culture of life.”
But the racist, Islamophobic, and anti-LGBTQ undertones of that rhetoric hides the NSPC’s secondary agenda: hijacking the racial justice movement to oppose access to reproductive healthcare.
Their event will take place in the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood to “to illustrate the horrific reality that it is the greatest mass killer of blacks in the history of our nation,” NSPC’s website says. Because abortions only make up three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, NSPC is arguing that supporting low-cost reproductive and other health services to women is racism.
The NSPC’s website calls transgender identity “insanity,” a “psychosis,” and a “sexual pathology” and equates the LGBTQ movement with pedophilia and Satanism. The website also specifically cites “Caucasians” and “Christianity” as two of its founding principles, which is telling for a group that purports to stand-up for Black people.
Last year, Don Grundmann, NSPC’s founder, said in a Modesto City Council meeting, “We’re a totally peaceful, racist group.”
MoPride Inc., a local LGBTQ non-profit has already planned a counter-protest almost immediately upon hearing about Grundmann’s event.
“We can’t just ignore it,” the non-profit’s Pride director Zola Hayes said. “They are absolutely representative of an emboldening of far-right groups that use hateful rhetoric to galvanize their base.”
California is currently the U.S. state with the highest number of coronavirus cases.
Anti-mask anti-lockdown right-wing Texas lawmaker nearly dies of coronavirus
Republican Texas state Representative Tony Tinderholt — a right-wing politician who has vocally opposed Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s statewide shutdown and mandatory mask orders — has nearly died from the COVID-19 coronavirus. He is the first-known case of the Texas state legislator contracting the potentially lethal respiratory virus.
Tinderholt, who had previously compared the shutdown and mask mandate to “government overreach” and “socialism,” said that his first symptoms of COVID-19 consisted of mild joint pain that turned severe, bad headaches and a loss of taste and smell. Then, his symptoms took a turn for the worse.
“I truly thought last Friday was gonna be my last,” Tinderholt wrote to the Texas Tribune. He told the publication that he and his family had been wearing masks in public even though he himself had proposed calling together a special session of the Texas legislature to overturn Abbott’s executive order making mask-wearing mandatory for all Texans.
“I would like for people to try to mitigate risk by wearing masks,” he said. “But wear them because you think it’s right. I’m sure it works to some degree — it just didn’t for me.”
He remains in recovery with nausea, a cough, and breathing difficulties.
Tinderholt is known as one of the state’s most conservative legislators. He wrote of the state’s COVID-19-prevention measures:
“Therefore, if we allow government to continue to grow one more iota over this level of threat, then we are ushering in the very foundations of socialism. The question I would encourage you ask yourself is this: do you want to be the governor who helped socialism take root in Texas or one who stood for freedom in the midst of great pressure? I know we both stand for freedom and personal liberty over socialist ideals. However, they will take root if we do not permanently change this course now.”
He has also proposed legislation to criminalize abortion, has said that immigrants dying at the southern border are the only way to stop immigration into the U.S., complained about a judge who upheld the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage (though he himself has been married at least four times), and was once placed under an ethics investigation for “misplacing” $15,000 in campaign funds.
Tinderholt is just the latest anti-mask Republican to catch COVID-19. Jason Rapert, an anti-gay Republican Arkansas state senator who called face mask mandates “draconian” and shared articles calling COVID-19 a hoax, tested positive for COVID-19 last week after speaking at a church service and other recent events without a face mask.
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