False equivalency

Ben Kepes writes:

A few months ago, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman​ took part in a protest in support of the Palestinian people living in Gaza and, more pointedly, ’s treatment of those individuals.

At the protest, there was much rhetoric around the perspective that ’s treatment of the Palestinian people is akin to the way the Nazis treated the Jews during the Holocaust. 

More recently, coverage of the Voices of Freedom anti-vaccination, anti-lockdown and anti-Covid control protests have shown people wearing yellow stars and carrying placards likening Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and our current government to the Nazi Party.

The false equivalency is tiresome and offensive. I know the serial number of my great grand mother on the train that took her to the concentration camp where she died, along with 140 other members of her family. When you have that happening, then you can compare things to the Holocaust.

Let me be clear for those who didn’t do Year 9 history: The Holocaust was a specific event in which the German Nazi party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, sought to permanently eradicate the entire people from the face of the earth.

Alongside this, other classes that the Nazis regarded as subhuman – homosexuals, Gypsies, the disabled – were targeted. Roughly 11 million human beings where slaughtered in this time, six million of them Jews.

While I absolutely agree that continues to treat Palestinians in Gaza poorly, there is no genocide going on – it is correct to contend that they are subjugated, but words matter. Genocide has a very specific meaning, and it doesn’t apply in this case.

And in the case of those anti-vaxxers using the Star of David as part of their protest, Jews were forced by the Nazis to wear the Star of David across Europe. Failure to do so could, and often did, result in execution.

Likening the vaccine passport to this is a hugely false equivalency – the vaccine pass is fundamentally aimed to keep citizens safe.

You can criticise without comparing them to Nazis. Likewise you criticise the implications of vaccine mandates without comparing them to Nazis. In both cases you trivialise the actual Holocaust.

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