Sean Spicer compares Assad and poison gas to Hitler and the Holocaust

Ashley McCann, Opinions Editor

In one of the strangest press briefings of 2017 – and that’s saying a lot – White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that “President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was guilty of acts worse than Hitler and asserted that Hitler had not used chemical weapons, ignoring the use of gas chambers at concentration camps during the Holocaust,” said Nicholas Fandos and Mark Landler of The New York Times.

In his speech, Spicer misconstrued the facts of the Holocaust. “Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” said Spicer, a statement that most people can identify as incorrect at its mildest and anti-Semitic at its worst. Spicer’s statements show a lack of respect for a tragic event that is nowhere near comparable in the way Spicer claims.

Approximately six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and despite Spicer’s weak attempts at clarification – one of which covertly suggested that Jews were not innocent – only made matters worse.

Understandably, reporters responded with gasps and Spicer’s comments immediately resulted in backlash from numerous news outlets. The controversy spread all over social media and shows such as Last Week Tonight by John Oliver addressed Spicer’s apprehensible commentary.

While this incident may seem like an isolated event, it is important to remember that “The Trump administration has a history of missteps on the Holocaust. Days after Mr. Trump took office, a White House statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day was sharply criticized for failing to directly mention Jews or anti-Semitism,” said Fandos and Landler of The New York Times.

While it is debatable whether Spicer and Trump’s comments intentionally disrespected Jewish people, it is inexcusable for those situations to occur in the first place. Spicer is the White House Press Secretary and Trump is the President of the United States; their words matter.

Government officials, especially those with high-ranking positions, have an obligation to be careful and intentional with their words – as their statements dictate American policy and represent the American people. Making haphazard and ill-informed connections between Hitler and the Syrian government is offensive and inexcusable.

Several days after the press conference, Spicer went on CNN and apologized again for his statements and said the comparison he made was not justified. While the repeatedly revised apologies are appreciated, maybe Spicer should practice and fact check the information in his public statemnets before he delivers them to a room of reporters.

The Lewis Flyer

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