U.S. & World News

DeWine denounces Nazi comments

DeWine condemned Sen. Brenner and protestors for anti-Semitism about COVID-19

Ohio State Senator Andrew Brenner caused controversy after responding to a post likening a statement by Dr. Amy Acton to Nazi Germany. Governor Mike DeWine condemned anti-Semitic protesters and Brenner’s post.

Governor Mike DeWine condemned State Rep. Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) after he and his wife posted comments likening a COVID-19 program to Nazi actions. 

He also condemned the use of anti-Semitic symbols during recent protests at the statehouse.  

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton expressed her desire to issue certificates allowing some immune Ohioans to discontinue their stay-at-home orders. 

“In some countries, they’re looking at certificates to say you’re immune and therefore you’d be able to go about your business,” Acton said in a statement on April 21. “It would be a dream if we could get something like that.”

Sen. Brenner’s wife, Sara Marie Brenner, responded to Acton’s post on Facebook. 

“With a German accent, in your head say ‘show me your papers’… This is downright scary!” Mrs. Brenner said. “You don’t issue people certificates to be able to function outside their home.”

“This actually feels like Hitler’s Germany where you had to have blonde hair and blue eyes to be able to function anywhere, and you were damned otherwise. When are people going to say enough is enough?” she continued. 

Sen. Brenner responded to his wife’s comment on Facebook. 

“We will never allow that to happen in Ohio,” he wrote. 

DeWine responded over Twitter, first addressing the use of anti-Semitic imagery at an April 18 protest over the stay-at-home order.

“I am deeply concerned by the anti-Semitic sign at Ohio’s Statehouse during a recent protest rally,” DeWine tweeted. “The sign was vile and disgusting. While even disgusting speech is constitutionally protected, it still demands condemnation.”

DeWine continued in a separate tweet and denounced Sen. Brenner’s comment on his wife’s Facebook post. 

“The recent Internet post by Ohio State Senator Andrew Brenner, likening Ohio’s Department of Health Director’s actions to fight coronavirus to those taken by the Nazis in Germany during World War II, must also be condemned,” DeWine said. 

DeWine also noted that the comments were particularly inappropriate, as they were posted on National Holocaust Memorial Day. 

Mrs. Brenner issued a statement after removing her post, denying allegations that her comment was anti-Semitic.

“Many of us are very upset with the policies being put forth in Ohio right now. However, disagreement with my views on the issues should never be used as a catalyst to attack someone’s faith, ethnicity or race, as has been done here,” Mrs. Brenner said. 

“Those who thought I made anti-Semitic comments are the same people who say I would be a racist for scrutinizing Barack Obama,” she continued. 

“It’s a dog whistle, and it’s a sad day when that’s the status of the first amendment in America.”

Sen. Brenner issued a separate statement later that day. 

“What I actually said was not the same as what is being reported. I would never, ever say what I am accused of saying,” he said. “I understand that while people may differ on policy issues, the manner in which it was reported was upsetting, inflammatory and hurtful.”

“I apologize to Dr. Acton, because I’m sure she was offended by the comments as they were reported,” Sen. Brenner said. 

Acton has not yet responded directly to Sen. Brenner’s apology.

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