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Connecticut legislator again accused of antisemitism after COVID comments

State Rep. Anne Dauphinais, R-Killingly, is again facing condemnation from Democrats and other groups for her comparison of COVID-19 precautions to Nazi Germany.

On Monday, the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus put out a lengthy statement denouncing Dauphinais for remarks at an America First political rally Saturday in Plainfield. The rally’s headlining speaker was U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, an incendiary Georgia Republican who repeatedly has been criticized for making comments similar to Dauphinais' statements Saturday.

Since taking office this year, Greene has faced criticism for supporting the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon. In February, she was exiled from her committees by the U.S. House “for endorsing the executions of Democrats and spreading dangerous and bigoted misinformation,” the New York Times reported.

She also has been reprimanded for racist and antisemitic comments and for downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, she was suspended from Twitter for a week for sharing misleading information regarding coronavirus vaccines.

The Black and Puerto Rican Caucus singled out a statement from Dauphinais and called for her “to apologize immediately for her anti-Semitic statements made in response to the vaccine requirement for state employees.”

"We know what happened in the '30s when that started happening to a community of people. They were taken out of their jobs and they were segregated and discriminated against," Dauphinais had said Saturday. "Do you all know about that, because that's history."

The caucus’s statement dubbed Dauphinais’ words “an insensitive comparison” that “makes light of the horror and inhumanity experienced by Holocaust victims and survivors” and is ultimately “a slap in the face to Holocaust survivors and their families.”

The Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut issued a statement to The Day that “strongly condemns recent comments comparing Hitler and Nazis to Governor (Ned) Lamont.” Dauphinais already turned down invitations to apologize for a comment she made on a CTNewsJunkie Facebook post earlier this month.

She also referenced that incident in her speech on Saturday, repeating for the frenzied crowd, “I said, ‘King Lamont, AKA Hitler.'”

“Such linkage trivializes the extent of crimes against humanity, diminishes the suffering of survivors, and offends those who understand the profound evil Hitler and the Nazis represented,” the federation’s statement reads.

Federation Executive Director Carin Savel said in the statement that the connections Dauphinais is trying to make are false equivalencies. "There is simply no comparison between contemporary Connecticut political issues and the actions of Hitler who was responsible for the murders of over 6 million Jews."

Romana Strochlitz Primus, former board president of the federation, also was quoted in the statement. “My parents were both Holocaust survivors,” she said. “The Nazis murdered their parents, their siblings, their aunts, uncles and cousins. When they were liberated from the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, my father weighed 74 pounds and my mother was too ill to know she had been liberated. My parents built wonderful lives in the U.S. and were eternally grateful to this great country. Please don't trivialize the evil of the Holocaust by equating it to the inconvenience of a mask mandate intended to protect public health.”

The BPRC also took issue with Dauphinais using the terms “discriminated” and “segregated.”

“To use this type of language in relation to a public health mandate, in which people have options for compliance, is ignorant of and insensitive to the decades of racial discrimination and oppression faced by Black Americans because of the color of their skin,” the caucus statement reads.

The state Democratic Party on Tuesday announced the launch of CTRepublicans.org, “a website spotlighting the new faces of the state’s Republican Party, including anti-maskers and anti-vaccination protesters, profanity, questionable leadership, racism and dog whistles.”

“This is the new face of the Connecticut Republican Party, aided and abetted by party leaders who ignore anti-Semitism, racism and other hateful rhetoric and behavior,” said Nancy DiNardo, chair of Connecticut Democrats. “When viewed as a whole, it shows an unprecedented level of ugliness. It is long past time for the leaders of the Connecticut Republicans to repudiate this hateful behavior, or admit they support it.”

Dauphinais, who did not respond to a request for comment, struck a defiant tone Saturday, ridiculing Republicans and Democrats alike who’ve asked her to tone down her rhetoric, this time from behind a podium rather than a keyboard.

“I’ve been called antisemitic, Trump, deplorable, racist, Christian, crazy, extremist, white supremacist, and it’s OK, because I don't care,” she said Saturday.

In contrast to Dauphinais, who left attendees in a frenzy, state Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, did not receive such a warm reception from the between 1,000 and 1,500 people gathered in Plainfield on Saturday. He faced vocal and repeated pushback from the crowd after he implored them to turn their ire away from “RINOs,” or “Republicans in name only,” and toward “socialists,” or Democrats.

The Black and Puerto Rican Caucus also named state Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, in its statement, who, on the House floor in September, compared the dying words of George Floyd — “I can’t breathe” — a Black man murdered by Minnesota police in 2020, to mask mandates for children in schools. Eric Garner, whose name also became a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement, was killed by New York City police officers in 2014 while telling them, “I can’t breathe.”

“The BPRC is calling on Reps. Dauphinais and Mastrofrancesco, and any others who would follow their example, to put an end to this insensitive and hateful rhetoric,” the statement reads. “We are also demanding Republican leaders in Connecticut address this ongoing behavior in their party and help stop any further comments from being made.”

s.spinella@theday.com

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