About the only thing interesting in Governor JB Pritzker’s daily coronavirus press conference on Friday was his answer to a question from Rick Pearson from the Chicago Tribune, which we are glad was finally asked. It’s about how Pritzker has been characterizing protesters and Republicans who criticize his emergency order. Here is the question and Pritzker’s answer:
Question: Do you think there is a Republican strategy at play here with the coronavirus hoping to seize on the growing frustration of the stay at home orders as a play for GOP votes in November, you seem to be trying to counter it by linking Republican lawmakers to fringe anti-Semitic protesters accusing them of trying to suppress voting by opposing vote by mail and favoring budget cuts regardless of coronavirus? [Emhpasis added.]
Pritzker: I didn’t link Republican elected officials to Nazi demonstrators, they linked themselves. There were elected officials that are in the bank of Springfield building right now who were out there speaking in front of the crowds that were holding pictures of Hitler swastikas, and they knew they were there. They were holding up signs that said death to tyrants. And then they had other signs that depicted me and Hitler. So I would say that the Republicans have tagged themselves, and for as long as they do not call out the elected officials of their own party they are a part of the very problem that is existent in this country of allowing hatred and bigotry to perpetuate.
The contradictions and hypocrisy in that answer are huge.
First, he’s referring to a very few signs (I believe I have seen news reports of just three or four) that appeared at some protests comparing Pritzker to Hitler. Call that what you want, but using Hitler as a negative image isn’t Nazism or anti-Semitism.
Second, nobody can control who is responsible for what signs a few protesters bring to a rally they attend or speak at. Would Pritzker and his party colleagues take ownership of, say, some of the nutty signs seen at Women’s Day marches, which he generally supported?
Finally, and most importantly, by mischaracterizing the situation, Pritzker is doing precisely what he is accusing his critics of — stoking hatred and bigotry. And he is doing it as governor; it’s not just a few people in a crowd.
Pritzker and his press secretary have received emails and tweets they have published that are truly ugly and anti-Semitic, but there’s no basis for linking those to Republicans or the bulk of his critics.
Everybody should back off on the extreme comparisons, including those who held the signs. If you don’t already know why, read the recent piece by Richard Porter, Illinois’ Republican National Committeeman.
– Mark Glennon