John Raese is feeling persecuted.
Raese, a West Virginia businessman running for the U.S. Senate, declared in a recent speech that he doesn’t want the government telling him what to do “because I’m an American.” Specifically, he lamented that he is required to place a “huge sticker” on his buildings declaring them smoke-free environments.
“Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody’s lapel, remember that? Same thing,” he said.
For the record, the Nazis did not require the Star of David on “everybody’s” lapel. Only Jews were forced to sew the symbol on their clothing under penalty of being fined, imprisoned or shot. But maybe we should just be grateful Raese did not compare smoker’s lounges to concentration camps — or some tobacco junkie hiding in the toilet to sneak a smoke to Anne Frank, hiding out for her life.
Predictably, Raese has come under fire from Jewish groups, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He has refused to back down. “I’m not apologizing to anybody or any organization,” he told the Charleston Daily Mail. He went on to say, “I am not going to be intimidated by a bunch of bull—t.”
Requiring him to put up no-smoking signs, is, he reiterated, “very similar” to requiring Jews to wear yellow stars. “It might be smoking today, it might be Big Macs tomorrow, then Coca-Colas the next day, then Jack Daniel’s, then we’re in trouble.”
Yes, he actually said that. And one can’t help but recall the famous thing Martin Niemoller said about the Holocaust: “First they came for the Big Macs, and I did not speak out — because I did not eat at McDonald’s.
“Then they came for the Coca-Colas, and I did not speak out — because I prefer Pepsi.
“Then they came for the Jack Daniel’s and I did not speak out — because I was not a whiskey drinker.
“Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”