KANSAS CITY, Mo. — During a Kansas Legislature special committee meeting, a witness compared being required to wear a mask to Jewish people in the Holocaust being forced to wear a yellow Star of David by the Nazis.
Cornell Beard of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers testified before the Kansas Legislature's Special Committee on Government Overreach and the Impact of COVID-19 Mandates Friday.
Beard told the committee that requiring unvaccinated people to wear a mask makes someone a "modern-day Jew."
“In my opinion, that’s the start of a huge problem because now we’re basically saying you’re the modern-day Jew,” Beard said. “You’re going to wear that star, and you’re going to wear it, and we don’t give a damn if you complain about it or not.”
After Beard finished speaking, some cheers and applause came from the audience, and the chair of the committee had to tell the audience to cease with the "outbursts."
Kansas State Rep. Brenda Landwehr talked with Beard after his speech, and she said she was intrigued and agreed with Beard's opening written comments:
"If you have ever made the statement, 'You do not want to work with anyone that isn't vaccinated,' you are preserving and perpetuating the ideology of a modern-day racist."
Also, Landwehr reiterated Beard's comments about "the modern-day Jew."
Some legislative members reacted to the comments made by Beard like State Sen. Pat Pettey, who said she totally disagrees "with any comparison of COVID and masks to the Jewish religion."
"Saying that wearing a mask is like wearing the Star of David is disrespectful to the memory of the Holocaust," Pettey said. "It is one thing to disagree with getting the vaccine and another to try to raise fear and hatred over health safety. Cornell’s comments definitely reflect the division and mistrust that is part of everyday thinking in America today."
Kansas State Rep. John E. Baker called Beard's comments "over the top," and Kansas State Rep. Sean E. Tarwater Sr. said Beard "fell short with his comparison."
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers released a statement following Beard's comparison:
“The IAM strongly condemns the offensive and inappropriate comparison of the mandates to the Holocaust made by a member to the Kansas legislature. Regardless of one’s views on divisive political issues, there is never a place for this type of hurtful rhetoric.
"A bedrock principle of the labor movement is an unwavering commitment to our core values of equality, respect, fairness and dignity—for all people. We recognize the right of our members in a free society to voice their opinions, but it must always be based on the spirit of goodwill toward everyone.”
This isn't the first time a comparison to the Holocaust and masking has been made in the area surrounding the Kansas City metro.
During a Kansas City, Missouri, City Council meeting in August, a woman protesting the city's mask mandate was seen wearing a yellow badge resembling the Star of David.