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Don’t confuse public health measures with the Holocaust

As all of Maine has faced the challenges of the COVID pandemic, Maine’s Jewish community has been beset by a wave of rhetoric that denies the realities of the Holocaust. Speakers and attendees at a series of protests and public events opposing mask and vaccination policies have done so by equating life-saving public health measures with genocide and unscrupulous medical experimentation.

At a rally in Augusta on Aug. 17, Rep. Heidi Sampson, who has been previously condemned for associating with Holocaust deniers, compared Gov. Janet Mills and another “Mills” to two Nazis, Dr. Josef Mengele and Joseph Goebbels. She then claimed Maine policies break the Nuremberg Code and proclaimed these policies are “punishable by death.” The crowd cheered.

Online, an opponent of the health worker vaccine mandate   suggested that people attend events with numbers on their arms and said, “These numbers were tattooed on Jewish people in WWII.” 

Perhaps these individuals do not understand what happened in the Holocaust. We do. I’m writing on behalf of Congregation Beth El in Bangor. Our congregation has members whose family members survived concentration camps and those who were murdered by Nazis, those who fled to avoid death and those whose fight liberated survivors.

These experiences have nothing in common with requiring health workers to be vaccinated or mandating masks. Making them equivalent harms our ability to learn from history how to confront authoritarianism and all forms of hate — not just anti-Semitism — in our own time. It is destructive to public health.

Melinda Wentworth

Vice President

Congregation Beth El


All citizens have a right to speak their mind

BDN letter writer Chris Ficker needs a refresher course in what constitutes the rights of the American citizenry. He admonishes author Stephen King to “leave the political opinions to people who know what they are talking about” and goes so far as to insist that King is no more qualified to offer his opinions than is “the average Viking Lumber truck driver.”

Here’s a news flash for Ficker: Both the Viking driver and King share an unalienable constitutional right to offer up their thoughts regarding politics and politicians.

After all, who better to opine on the performance of a political leader than a citizen — you know, one of the people who is responsible for electing those leaders.  

I have spent over 45 years of my life imparting that lesson to elementary school students, but it would appear that remedial instruction may be required in certain circles.  

Scott Kenyon


Biden’s border crisis

The authors of the Aug. 6 column in the BDN “Getting information right crucial to solving border crisis” report that misinformation from smugglers and Russians is fueling the migrant surge. However, the misinformation and mixed messages also come from Washington.

After President Joe Biden’s campaign promising “a more humane border policy” featuring a 100-day moratorium on deportations, the number of migrants surged. No surprise. The administration’s early messaging that amounted to “don’t come – yet” didn’t help nor did their  announcement that claims of domestic violence will now be considered grounds for asylum. Imagine how many women worldwide could make that claim.

Faced with a politically embarrassing border crisis, Vice President Kamala Harris was sent to give a sterner “do not come” message, which everyone seemed to ignore. And the numbers steadily increased. Approximately one third of apprehended migrants aren’t even Central Americans. The Democrats’  immigration bill, which they plan to attach to the must-pass budget reconciliation bill, promises a path to citizenship to everyone who arrived by January, a requirement easily fudged by purchasing cheap fraudulent documents. More inducements for scrambling here as fast as they can.

Finally, the authors suggest we need to “modernize” and offer more legal ways for people to come. Will increasing legal immigration solve the border crisis, or make it worse? Over the past four decades, Congress has steadily increased legal visas, passed multiple legalization schemes for the undocumented, and expanded guest worker programs. But the border crisis has only worsened.

Jonette Christian

Mainers for Sensible Immigration Policy