Kansas paper equates orders to wear corona masks with Holocaust

Anderson County Review slammed for posting repulsive political cartoon equating Kansas governor’s order to use masks for corona protection with Nazis ordering Jews into cattle cars.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A small local Kansas news website is under fierce criticism Sunday after posting a political cartoon that likened the Democratic governor’s order requiring Kansas state residents to wear face masks in public to the Nazi murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

The black and white cartoon was posted on the Anderson County Review Facebook page, showing Democratic governor Laura Kelly wearing a face mask against coronavirus that has a large Star of David.

In the background are people being loaded into a railway freight car – an obvious reference to Jews being loaded into trains by Nazis for transport to concentration camps.

At the bottom of the cartoon is the headline, “Lockdown Laura says: put on your mask… and step into the cattle car.”

Although coronavirus cases are surging in the U.S., some Republicans criticized Kelly’s order as infringing on personal liberties even though Kansas state law allows counties to opt out and Anderson County has done so, AP reported.

The Anderson Country Review is printed weekly in Anderson County, about 54 miles southwest of Kansas City. Its editor, Dane Hicks, is also the chairman of the Anderson County Republican Party. Hicks was unrepentant and said his goal was to provoke controversy.

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“Political editorial cartoons are gross over-caricatures designed to provoke debate and response — that’s why newspapers publish them — fodder for the marketplace of ideas,” Hicks told the New York Times in an email. “The topic here is the governmental overreach which has been the hallmark of Governor Kelly’s administration.”

Kelly, a Catholic, issued a statement saying, “Mr. Hicks’ decision to publish anti-Semitic imagery is deeply offensive and he should remove it immediately.”

Despite the governor’s request and over 2,000 mostly negative comments on the newspaper’s Facebook page demanding it be taken down, Hicks refused and said he had nothing to apologize for.

“Apologies: To whom exactly?” he wrote the Times. “The critics on the Facebook page? Facebook is a cesspool and I only participate to develop readership,” adding that he “intended no slight” to Jews or Holocaust survivors.

Hicks told AP that critics of President Donald Trump have compared him to Adolf Hitler, and “I certainly have more evidence of that kind of totalitarianism in Kelly’s actions, in an editorial cartoon sort of way, than Trump’s critics do, yet they persist in it daily.”

Despite its small circulation of only 3,000 readers, the cartoon showed the power of social media to amplify outrageous statements and gain Hicks worldwide notoriety.

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“This is barely a blog run by one ignorant *** (Dane Hicks),” tweeted Mitch Kosterman, a Vancouver-based media editor. “He is not popular. Don’t tweet his stuff. You are only raising his profile.”

“This is so awful. How can you compare wearing masks to the Holocaust? This is ridiculously unethical and not factual at all. This makes me sick,” posted Facebook user Grace Urquhart.

A local Anderson Country resident, Haley Williams, commented to Hicks that “this isn’t the first time you’ve embarrassed our community.”

“Stupidest meme ever. One is trying to save lives the other is leading people to their deaths,” posted Kansas resident Todd Habiger. “The mask doesn’t kill. Texas, under a Republican governor, mandated masks. After playing politics and seeing his state devastated he wised up. The Anderson County Review obviously has no regard for life. Follow it to the cattle car.”