On the same day hundreds of anti-abortion supporters rallied inside the state’s capitol, the Illinois Family Institute quietly deleted a Facebook post and website article comparing Democrats to Nazis.
Despite the backlash and its decision to take down the post, the group’s executive director defended its content.
“You cannot help but connect the torturous ways that human beings were treated in Nazi camps and the way that pre-born babies are being treated in the women’s womb,” David Smith told the Sun-Times Thursday.
The initial article was titled “Democrat Politicians and Nazis: Is There a Difference?” and featured a side-by-side graphic listing supposed connections between Nazis and Democrats: socialism, “No Guns,” censorship, “Media Mind Control,” abortion and “Worship the Government.”
One comparison was slightly different; Nazis were listed as “Hate Jews” but Democrats, according to the post, “Hate Jews and Whites.”
Later Thursday, the group said it had republished the article with a “better title and a better graphic.”
In place of the comparison chart, the latest post features a picture of the Auschwitz concentration camp next to a picture of a Planned Parenthood building. The new headline: “Why Is Legalized Abortion Called a Holocaust?”
The article and graphic were first posted on the Illinois Family Action’s Facebook page Wednesday. It also was on the group’s website, but both were deleted. Illinois Family Action is the legislative arm of the Illinois Family Institute, an anti-abortion nonprofit group.
“Consider the fact that most Nazi leaders didn’t actually kill Jews personally,” the author Terri Paulson writes. “Like Democrat leaders, they simply advanced the policies, changed the law and signed the papers that dictated the genocide. If there is a significant moral difference between the Nazi’ leaders’ participation in the slaughter of the Jewish people during WWII and Democrat leaders’ participation in the slaughter of babies I fail to grasp it.”
The Anti-Defamation League condemned the tactic.
“It is never appropriate to compare the policies of a political party to Nazi Germany,” said Jessica Gall, a Chicago-based ADL official. “Such comparisons are inaccurate, hurtful, and trivialize the memory of Holocaust victims. We hope that Illinois Family Action apologies for its actions and avoids such offensive rhetoric in the future.”
State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said he personally called Smith and asked him to take the post down. McSweeney said he first heard about the post from his close friend and fellow lawmaker, Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, who is Jewish.
“It’s inappropriate and I told him he had a good day today, filled up the Capitol with people. I opposed two bills that are coming out of the Senate. Why screw it up with something like this? Because it just looks so bad. And he took it down.”
McSweeney said there is there is “zero place in discourse ever [for Nazism], except to condemn it.”
The post came on the same day that more than a thousand protesters filled the Illinois State Capitol to condemn two abortion bills in the Senate. One bill would end the requirement that minors without parental consent go before a judge to gain healthcare approval for an abortion. Another would repeal a provision — which is already blocked by the courts — that provides for criminal penalties for doctors providing abortion care to patients.
Smith told the Sun-Times he took down the initial post “because people aren’t getting past the headline.”
“It’s becoming a distraction so I took it down, until we can come up with a better headline or flesh it out,” Smith said.
“It asked the question, Democratic politicians and Nazis, is there a difference? And considering the abortion holocaust that our country is going through and the push for extreme late abortion legislation, we were asking the question,” Smith said.
Later, he emailed the Sun-Times to say he had republished the article, with a “better headline and better graphic”
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, who is both a sponsor of one of the abortion bills and a member of the Jewish Caucus, said taking the initial post down is not enough. The nonprofit later called Cassidy a “feticidal maniac” on their Facebook page.
“This is a group promoting violence and hate speech and they have people on the payroll wearing badges bypassing security, walking in and out of this building every day. And I think that should be examined,” Cassidy said.
The Chicago Democrat called the updated graphic and headline “wrong” and “disgusting.”
“They should be deeply ashamed,” Cassidy said.
Carroll said his first reaction was “outrage.”
“It was disgraceful and it has no place in our political system to equate a genocide in a group that committed genocide with a political party in our country,” Carroll said.