Our Pledge To You

Politics

Comparing Democrats to Nazis ‘clear-cut hate speech,’ Jewish caucus says

State rep. Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

State rep. Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Members of the Illinois Legislature’s Jewish caucus have asked the Illinois State Police to investigate an anti-abortion group for “a pattern of hate speech” after the Illinois Family Institute posted an article comparing Democrats to Nazis.

State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, on Friday, said she had personally called Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly to ask for an investigation into Illinois Family Action and its parent organization, the Illinois Family Institute.

But the group’s leader on Friday said calls for an investigation of “political speech is nothing short of intimidation and harassment.”

The call stems from a website and Facebook post that initially featuring an article titled “Democrat Politicians and Nazis: Is There a Difference?” Wednesday’s posts 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.”

The nonprofit ended up deleting the posts. But 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 Jewish caucus, in turn, said they will be filing a joint resolution to make clear the Illinois General Assembly objection to what it deemed “hate speech” while also encouraging an investigation.

“We consider an attempt to use Nazi imagery and a genocidal equation on matters regarding a legal right to health care service, clear-cut hate speech,” Feigenholtz said in a statement. “This pattern of hateful actions are exactly what ignites a call to action for violence.”

Illinois Family Institute, on Facebook, later called state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, a “feticidal maniac” on its Facebook page. Cassidy is a sponsor of one of the abortion bills and is also a member of the Jewish caucus, which has 10 members.

The group’s executive director, David Smith, called Cassidy’s reaction “predictable,” while accusing progressive of using “unethical efforts to enjoin the force of government – to silence the expression of political views and moral assumptions with which they agree.”

Smith called calls for the Illinois State Police to investigate “nothing short of intimidation and harassment.” Smith said the group’s freedom of speech is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The initial post came on the same day that more than 1,000 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.