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Oklahoma GOP Continues Holocaust Rhetoric At Capitol Rally Opposing Public Health Measures

Oklahoma Republican Party
Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman John Bennett addresses an anti-mask and anti-vaccine rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Saturday.

At a Saturday rally inside the Oklahoma State Capitol opposing COVID-19 public health measures, the Oklahoma Republican Party continued its now-familiar messaging comparing pandemic-related policies to Nazi Germany and its atrocities.

The party promotedthe rally, attended by several hundred demonstrators, with the hashtags #NoMasks, #NoLockdowns and #NoVaccineMandates.

State GOP Chairman John Bennett told the crowd the present coronavirus situation in the United States reminded him of a statement made by Nazi leader Hermann Göring during the Nuremberg Trials. 

"'The only thing a government has to do to turn its people into slaves is fear,'" Bennett said. "He went on to say, 'If you can find something to scare them, then you can make them do anything that you want.' Well, guess what? We in Oklahoma will not give into the peddling of this fear," Bennett said. 

The purported Göring quote has been found by fact-checkers to be fabricated.

"We in Oklahoma will not force our citizens to show vaccine papers and medical records at the restaurant, while we're attending an event, a gym, or a place of work!" Bennett said. "We in Oklahoma refuse to be locked down! We will not be forced to be vaccinated against our will! We choose to stand and fight!

"We in Oklahoma believe we are free to choose our own decision for our own families, for ourselves, whether we get a shot or not. We will not be forced into anything by an overreaching government that peddles fear and compels businesses to mandate masks or vaccines. Oklahomans, your GOP under my leadership, we're going to stand and fight for you! We're going to tell the Gestapo: 'No!'" Bennett said to applause. 

Jewish groups have issued statements denouncing the state party's use of Holocaust rhetoric in its anti-vaccine fundraising appeals, but the party has continued to use the language. 

Bennett asked attendees Saturday to call on Gov. Kevin Stitt and state legislators to convene a special session in order to pass a law banning private employers, including hospitals, from requiring their workers be vaccinated.

"When I heard that the hospitals were mandating vaccines and they were going to terminate those that did not get vaccines, I was offended," said state Sen. Jake Merrick (R-Yukon), who has drafted a bill that would codify such a ban. "When I heard that it was either get jabbed or get out, I was offended. I felt like someone had walked into my house.

"And if I get a phone call that says, 'Hey Jake, somebody just walked in your house and they're taking your things and they're beating your wife,' well, guess what? I'm not going to tell them I'll be right there, I'm not going to tell them that, you know, I've got better things to do. No, there's only one thing on my mind at that point. When I heard this, I started writing legislation because we have to do something. It is tyranny."

Other speakers at the rally peddled in falsehoods and conspiracies, including assertions that Donald Trump is still legally the President of the United States; that COVID-19 is a "scam-demic;" that COVID-19 vaccines are "bioweapons" created by a "Luciferian cabal;" and that having children wear masks to reduce the spread of the disease is a form of abuse.

On Monday morning, the state party posted to Facebook a video of Bennett at the rally that ended with an appeal for donations.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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