Skip to main content
COVID Analogy to be the New Holocaust Analogy

Illustration by Dave Granlund on Cagle Cartoons.

Holocaust analogies are almost always problematic, either because of their inaccuracy (think MTG) or their inherent offensiveness. Though, I must admit, one such analogy keeps creeping back into the secret annex of my brain every time I turn on the news.

When I watch GOP officials and conservative religious leaders encourage their supporters to refuse vaccines and resist actions as simple as wearing a mask, I’m genuinely baffled. I watch, stupefied, as conservatives encode into law policiesallowing schools dealing with a COVID outbreak to opt out of notifying parents.

I listen to the nonsensical misinformation about human magnetism and second-hand infertility. I grapple with the logic of claiming the virus is a biological weapon sent by China, and then thinking it’s patriotic to willingly die from infection without attempting to save ourselves.

And I wonder if it would even be possible to design a more effective method of spreading a fatal disease.

Let’s rally. Let’s protest. Demand divestment. Don't walk right into the greenhouse gas chamber, making plans about doing something someday.

I feel I’m watching millions of people giddily, proudly, obliviously march directly into the gas chambers, boasting about their eagerness to inhale poison until the bitter end.

OK, so it’s not a perfect analogy between COVID and the Holocaust. Jews and other Nazi targets didn't go willingly.

So what kind of analogy does work? MasadaJonestown?

It seems the mass hysteria we’re witnessing today isn't unprecedented, but the scale of it seems to be. Especially since the usual path is for the deluded to attack others, not themselves. Of course, mask-deniers inevitably take others down with them, and as we saw on January 6th, delusional people can also strike out against anyone.

I expect we’ll soon be adding a COVID analogy to our bag of extremes.

“These people are behaving like the self-deluded collaborators who refused to wear masks back when COVID wrought havoc across the globe…”

“Liberty” doesn’t mean “anything goes.”

The U.S. government already tells us to pay income and property tax. Whether or not we agree, these are mandates we can’t shrug off. We’re told to obey speed limits, to not drink and drive. We’re mandated by law or company policy to wear other bits of cloth in public—you know, like pants or shirts.

During wartime, the government drafts every healthy man to risk life and limb in battle. That’s OK but wearing a mask for fifteen minutes while in a store is an infringement on our rights? Even conscientious objectors must perform difficult, often dangerous work. People don’t simply get to opt out of the war effort because they don’t feel like participating.

“Can’t fight fascists today. I’m binge-watching The Walking Dead.”

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

During WWII, Americans in many cities were required (i.e., mandated) to use blackout curtains or paint so enemy bombers couldn’t see light coming from our windows. No patriots rallied at protests shouting, “I have a right to let Nazis target the whole city because I choose to give away our location!”

What could be more ridiculous?

Unfortunately, even Holocaust and COVID analogies are insufficient to illustrate our mass inaction in response to the climate crisis. We’re not talking about a few hundred people drinking Flavor-Aid, or a few million refusing vaccines. We’re talking about billions of people allowing our climate to become so inhospitable to thousands of species (crops, animals, pollinators) that although we might not go extinct ourselves, the survival of our civilization is another matter.

Sure, it’s corporate owners and the politicians they buy who do the most serious climate damage, but if all the rest of us do is complain or shake our heads or cry but still let them get away with it, our behavior will soon become an analogy that surpasses either Holocaust or COVID comparisons.

Assuming history books or other forms of cultural communication still exist.

“It was like that time when, for decades, people just kept on pumping out greenhouse gases, even as they watched wildfires burn entiretowns, and terriblefloodsdisruptmajorcities, and crop failures starve millions of people, and the collapse of the Gulf Stream devastate an entire continent, while doing nothing substantial to address any of it.”

I used to feel offended by certain Holocaust comparisons. I still do, I suppose. But given the enormity of what we’re facing now, those analogies may soon feel almost quaint.

During the Holocaust, much of Europe lost its Jewish culture forever. During the COVID pandemic, the U.S. will likely lose some of its most influential conservative constituents.

All truly horrific, even as these tragedies are being eclipsed.

When a wall of flame is racing toward us at sixty miles an hour, we don’t have time for incremental approaches. No “I’ll trim the weeds this weekend” or “I’ll buy a cistern when I get my holiday bonus check.”

We can be baffled by the stupidity of mask-deniers. We can ridicule them if it makes us feel better.

But let’s stop being stupid ourselves and stop voting for anyone who doesn’t take the climate crisis seriously.

Let’s rally. Let’s protest. Let’s march. Let’s petition. Let’s boycott. Let’s demand ">divestment. Let’s donate to people and organizations who can lobby and pressure Congress now.

Johnny Townsend

And for God’s sake, let’s stop walking straight into the greenhouse gas chamber while making plans about doing something…someday…to escape.

Johnny Townsend