Anti-Defamation League: Bailey’s Holocaust comments are shameful, unacceptable

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 4:21 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Sen. Darren Bailey once said the Holocaust doesn’t compare to abortion deaths.

The Republican candidate for governor told that to supporters while he was running for state representative in 2017. This video from Oct. 12, 2017, highlighted Bailey’s concern with former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signing House Bill 40 to protect a woman’s right to choose abortion.

Jewish nonprofit news organization Forward was the first to report on the Facebook video. Bailey said he believed abortion is one of the “greatest atrocities of our day” and that the procedure was one of the “greatest atrocities ever.”

“The attempted extermination of the Jews of World War II doesn’t even compare on a shadow of the life that been lost with abortion,” Bailey told supporters.

Anti-Defamation League Midwest Director David Goldenberg stressed Tuesday that the Holocaust and abortion are not the same. Goldenberg said these types of comments have no place in public discourse, regardless of political beliefs.

“It’s shameful, it’s unacceptable,” Goldenberg said. “And it does an incredible disservice to the millions of Jews and others who were killed at the hands of the Nazis.”

Goldenberg said there is no conceivable or logical conclusion that abortion is genocide. The Pritzker campaign says conflating a woman’s bodily autonomy to the systematic murder of Jewish people is antisemitic and disqualifying. Pritzker is a Jewish leader who helped create the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.

Now, the Pritzker campaign is using Bailey’s words in a new ad saying the Republican is too extreme for Illinois.

“Darren Bailey’s disgusting assertion that a woman determining her own reproductive future is worse than the Nazis’ genocide of 6 million Jews is offensive to Illinoisans everywhere,” said Pritzker’s campaign press secretary Eliza Glezer. “With violent antisemitism on the rise and in the wake of a massacre against the predominately Jewish Highland Park, Bailey must answer for his hateful comments.”

Bailey released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the Holocaust is a human tragedy without parallel. The candidate also said he was not attempting to diminish the atrocities of the Holocaust.

“I meant to emphasize the tragedy of millions of babies being lost,” Bailey said. “I support and have met with many people in the Jewish community in Illinois and look forward to continuing to work with them to make Illinois a safer and more affordable place for everyone.”

Meanwhile, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was quick to criticize Bailey’s 2017 comment.

“The Holocaust was one of the worst atrocities in the history of humankind and any comments that minimize it have no place in our political discourse,” Durkin said.

Bailey was part of the House Republican Caucus under Durkin from 2018 to 2020. The Illinois Republican Party has not responded to a request for comment.

However, the Illinois House Jewish Caucus says Bailey’s words are unconscionable and disqualifying. Caucus Chair Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield) said Bailey’s extremism has no bounds.

“It is demeaning to the legacies of those we’ve lost to reduce their suffering to a political talking point,” Morgan said. “Darren Bailey is once again causing harm with his callous words and actions and he must be held accountable for this abhorrent behavior.”

The Anti-Defamation League continues to see elected officials across the country using antisemitic language. Goldenberg said words matter and these comparisons are deeply offensive.

“We saw it during the stay-at-home protests. We’ve seen it on the floor of the General Assembly,” Goldenberg said. “We’ve seen it in school boards across the state. So, it’s time to stop with these types of comparisons.”

Bailey and other “Eastern Bloc” Republicans spoke during several rallies outside the Illinois Capitol where people held antisemitic signs and shouted vulgar comments about Pritzker. One man held a sign comparing the governor to Adolf Hitler. Attached to the bottom of the large sign was a message: Open Illinois Now and The Capitol Bureau interviewed that protester minutes before Bailey spoke on May 16, 2020.

“It’s deeply concerning because too often we’ve seen these extreme views and this extreme language translate into real-life violence against individuals,” Goldenberg said. “And that’s a problem that we all have to be aware of.”

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