House resolution condemns ‘inappropriate, repugnant Holocaust comparisons’

Comes after the Michigan GOP’s widely criticized tweet

By: - March 29, 2023 11:12 am

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

A resolution condemning any comparisons of gun reform legislation to the Holocaust was passed by the Michigan House last week, but not without friction between Democrats who control the chamber and Republicans upset at the process.

House Resolution 68, sponsored by state Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills), who is Jewish, came a day after a social media post by the Michigan Republican Party explicitly linked the Holocaust to gun reform legislation introduced by legislative Democrats in the wake of the Feb. 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University. The resolution only has Democratic co-sponsors.

Michigan GOP tweet, March 22, 2023

The meme, posted to both the Michigan GOP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, used a picture from the U.S. National Archives of wedding rings removed by Germans from Holocaust victims with text that read: “Before they collected all these wedding rings … They collected all the guns.”

Under Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany systematically murdered more than 6 million Jews in death camps during World War II between 1941 and 1945. Known as “The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem,” it was the culmination of brutal policies that began under Hitler in 1933. Beyond the Holocaust, the Nazis also persecuted and killed others, including LGBTQ+ people, Roma and disabled people.

Almost immediately, wide-ranging criticism poured down on the Michigan GOP, which only intensified after Michigan Republican Party Chair Kristina Karamo held a press conference and doubled-down on the remarks, including getting into a contentious dialogue with a rabbi who chastised her for the post, saying it showed “a lack of decency.”

The resolution “condemn[ed] divisive rhetoric that invokes inappropriate, repugnant Holocaust comparisons as an ideological political ploy meant to polarize the populous.”

The measure also states that “reprehensible Holocaust comparisons and analogies have become all too commonplace as a means of furthering political agendas, and, thus, dividing Americans” and a “substantial number of leaders and other public figures in Michigan and across the United States have compared the Holocaust as a means to criticize gun control measures, to protest against abortion laws, and speak in favor of denying women access to reproductive health care.”

As the resolution came before the House, Republicans left the floor and gathered in their caucus room, before being ordered back to the floor by Speaker Pro Tempore Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia). Pohutsky was also forced to call for order while one of the resolution’s co-sponsors, Rep. Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield), conveyed his outrage over the post. 

“I’m enraged that the Michigan Republican Party has apparently decided by some sick, twisted logic that it is okay to abuse the memory of 6 million Jews who were slaughtered during the Holocaust in the service of a cheap political point,” said Arbit, who said he represents the most heavily Jewish House district in Michigan. “Let me make this clear. It is not okay. It is far from okay. I am a Jew who has been to Auschwitz. I have been to Majdanek; I have been to Treblinka. I’m a Jew who has stood at the mountain of human ash and bone.” 

At that point, Pohutsky gaveled down the chamber after Minority Floor Leader Bryan Posthumus (R-Cannon Twp.), interrupted Arbit by repeatedly yelling, “Point of order.”

“Members, we have a colleague addressing the floor. You will give him your attention and respect,” she said.

Rep. Noah Arbit speaks to reporters following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s fifth State of the State address on Jan. 25, 2023. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

The resolution, which condemned the “divisive rhetoric that invokes inappropriate, repugnant Holocaust comparisons as an ideological political ploy meant to polarize the populace,” passed the House on a voice vote.

“I call to vote yes on this resolution because Madame Speaker, I am sick of waking up to headlines of another mass shooting. I am sick of waking up to headlines about another antisemitic tweet from shameless politicians who have run out of ideas to solve real existing problems,” Arbit said.

State Rep. Neil Friske (R-Petoskey) issued a statement condemning the resolution and defending Karamo without addressing the substance of the GOP meme.

‘“Our constituents sent us to Lansing to pass legislation and vote on spending bills, not to waste a day’s worth of public resources comparing the first black woman to lead the MIGOP to Hitler or some sort of Nazi figure,” said Friske in a news release. “This is beyond lunacy.”

Friske is the son of former Rep. Richard Friske, a former community organizer for George Wallace’s presidential campaign who was embroiled in a scandal when it was discovered he was a pilot for Nazi Germany during World War II.


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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.