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Pandemic, Demagoguery, and Right-Wing Authoritarianism, Vol. 30 - 2023, No. 1

Guest Edited by Robert L. Ivie

Holocaust Distortion During the Global Pandemic: An Exercise in Anti-Democratic Demagoguery

, , pages: 128-144

Far-right demagogues, including Thomas Massie (R-KY), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) have compared COVID related mandates to Nazi-era policies that restricted the movement of Jewish peoples, have repeatedly evoked the image of the concentration camp tattoo, and have referenced the Nazi’s T4 programme that mandated the forced sterilisation of people with disabilities. This rhetorical strategy is a form of Holocaust distortion, the active excusing, minimisation, or misrepresentation of the Holocaust for political purposes. This essay explores how right-wing politicians use Holocaust distortion as a rhetorical strategy during the global pandemic, to the detriment of democratic deliberation. Our analysis focuses on the tactics of Holocaust distortion: hyperbole, comparison, argument by analogy, and the slippery slope fallacy. We suggest that COVID-19 era related Holocaust distortion has grave consequences for democratic life in the United States. We recommend adaptations in our cultural and scholarly communication practices that may help resist the demagogic logics of Holocaust denial.

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