By Andrew Malekoff
Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted: “Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s [sic] forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.”
“You can almost see the gears in Taylor Greene’s mind (very slowly) turning: You all have this backwards. I’m calling the Nazis bad!” surmised Jonathan Chait in his May 25 Intelligencer piece in New York magazine about the far-right conspiracy theorist.
Between 1939 and 1945 in Nazi-occupied Europe, Jews were required to wear a yellow star, representing the star of David, as a means of identification. This was a prelude to the systematic plan to wipe them off the face of the Earth.
The yellow stars were outlined in black. The German word “Jude” (for Jew) was situated in the middle in mock Hebraic-style type. Jewish shops were also marked with a yellow star. The stars served as a mark of identification, segregation, humiliation, discrimination and, ultimately, deportation to slave labor and death camps.
In the prison camps, Jews weren’t the only group forced to pin cloth insignias on their frequently blue-striped uniforms. For example, Roma wore brown triangles and gay persons wore pink triangles.
Historically, the practice of marking Jews dates back to medieval times. In German-occupied Eastern Europe, the forced wearing of the Yellow Star was just the first step in dehumanizing Jews. Shaved heads, removal of personal belongings and numbers tattooed on forearms were among the acts of objectification that followed. The Yellow Star also represented fear, as failing to wear it or properly display it was an infraction that could lead to fines, imprisonment, beatings and death.
Greene’s messaging was so effective that one Nashville businesswoman – Gigi Gaskins, began selling Yellow Stars printed with lettering in all caps that read NOT VACCINATED. She sold them from her shop hatWRKS for $5 a pop. Gaskins posted an image of the article on Instagram, stating, “patches are here!! they turned out great. $5ea. string adhesive back …. we’ll be offering trucker caps soon.” Yellow-starred trucker caps, too? Really?
Greene’s message, aside from Gaskins’ stunt, has not been well received. For example, @JakeLobin tweeted: “Dear Marjorie Taylor Greene: My 95-year-old Holocaust survivor grandmother had to wear a star beginning at age 13. She had to wear the pinstripes. She buried bodies. She smelled burning flesh daily. She is now vaccinated. Ask her if vaccine proof is the same as the Holocaust.”
Fellow Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran, has called for Greene to be removed from the House Republican conference over her vile analogy. Although others have joined the growing chorus in repudiating Greene’s comparison, few will support her ouster, fearing retaliation by Donald “the Big Lie” Trump.
Greene is no stranger to vile utterances. For instance, in 2018 she claimed that the school shootings in Parkland, Fla. and Newtown, Conn. were “false flag” operations, suggesting that the shootings were staged by gun control activists hell-bent on removing Americans’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Although one might conclude that Greene is living with untreated mental illness, it would be far too kind an assessment. After all mental illness and common human decency are not mutually exclusive.
In Greene’s case, it appears to be more an issue of arrested moral development. Just as her benefactor cannot acknowledge defeat despite all facts to the contrary and will instigate violence to express his misplaced rage, Greene, too, seems devoid of civility, human values and logical consideration of important ethical questions.
I suggest that Greene and Gaskins deep six the Yellow Stars and instead find a symbol of sycophancy that best represents the fawning parasites in the U.S. Senate who just voted against forming a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. A reasonable facsimile of Trump’s derriere stamped with a red lips emoji will do.