[COMMENTARY] Auschwitz Memorial Makes Mask Plea Amid Anti-Semitic Tweets
A new kind of Anti-Semitic tweet has been making the rounds on Twitter, in which the user compares the wearing of masks as a means to help stop the spread of the coronavirus to the yellow Star of David that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. This is just the latest attempt from the far right to discredit the use of masks. Other conspiracy theories suggest the Democrats are trying to control people with the masks or that wearing a mask is what gets people sick. While these claims can be easily debunked, it doesn’t stop the use of hate speech to further a cause.
Anti-Semitism is, unfortunately, nothing new neither on the platform nor in the African-American community. Rappers Ice Cube and Wiley have recently been criticized for their hateful tweets, and videos of actor Nick Cannon making similar comments on a podcast went viral, causing Cannon to be fired by Viacom/CBS.
But to suggest a mask is equivalent to a symbol that the Nazis used to identify Jews was a step too far for the Auschwitz Museum, which shared this screenshot and tweeted its own response as a quote tweet.
“A mask is not a yellow star.” the Auschwitz Museum account tweeted. “Such a comparison is disrespectful to Jews humiliated by it during the Holocaust. Wearing a mask is a sign of our moral responsibility for the safety of us all. It protects health & lives. Visitors of Auschwitz Museum are requested to cover faces.”
Both Twitter and Facebook have been working overtime to suspend any accounts openly promoting hate speech and conspiracy theories, with Twitter going as far as to remove hateful content. But it’s not just the more mainstream social media sites that are cracking down on anti-Semitism; even the conservative haven Gab had its own issues with rampant anti-Jewish messaging.
The wearing of masks as a method to slow the spread of COVID19 has become a political lightning rod, with extreme right-wing activists and other non-believers claiming it infringes on their rights, with some going as far as to mock anyone wearing a mask for their own protection, as well as the protection of others. However, leading health experts continue to advise the wearing of masks as the best defense against the spread of the virus when outside the home.