Rep. Barbara Landwehr’s comments came Friday after testimony from Cornell Beard, who is president of the Wichita Machinist and Aerospace Workers union, before the state’s Special Committee on Government Overreach and Impact of COVID-19 Mandates. Beard, who is black and said he is a “very, very conservative” Democrat, told the committee in written testimony that employees who refuse to work with unvaccinated individuals are “preserving and perpetuating the ideology of a modern-day racist.”
Echoing Beard’s comments while questioning him, Landwehr made the outrageous comparison between racism, anti-Semitism and people choosing not to get vaccinated. “This is racism against the modern day Jew, which is anyone that disagrees,” she said, bizarrely comparing the choice to be unvaccinated to a religion.
Later in the hearing, Landwehr doubled down and made a direct comparison to the Holocaust.
“One of the words that I just heard in conversation here, madam chair, was we all need to ‘go down a path.’ Where have we heard those words before? Well, recently I heard them on a documentary about the Germans and what happened to the Jews. We’ll take you all ‘down a path,’ ” Landwehr said.
“Now, do I believe that is what we’re trying to do?” she added. “I hope not because this is America and I don’t want to lose hope in it.” Landwehr later went on to say that a database tracking vaccine side effects included some “very scary stuff.”
According to The Kansas City Star, none of the other lawmakers present expressed disagreement with Landwehr’s remarks, nor did they condemn them. Landwehr did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone.
Responding to the representative’s comments, Gavi Gellar, executive director of the American Jewish Committee of Greater Kansas City, told The Star that Landwehr’s comparison is a “false and slanderous attack.”
“It’s incumbent upon all Kansas state leadership to be speaking out forcefully against this type of language,” Gellar said. “This kind of language is a false and slanderous attack on Jews, on Jewish memory and Jewish identity.”
Landwehr wasn’t the only lawmaker opposed to vaccine mandates at the hearing. Republican State Sen. Renee Erickson said that she “respects individual rights and freedoms” and opposes mandatory vaccination. “I believe if you want to get the vaccine, you should get the vaccine, and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be forced to,” she said, according to Fox 4 Kansas City.
Another Republican, State Sen. Mike Thompson, claimed multiple times that the Covid-19 vaccine is both unsafe and “not a real vaccine.”
But some Democrats said they supported mandates. “If we merely leave it up to individuals to decide whether they’re going to act responsibly or not, unfortunately, there’s too many that won’t act responsibly,” said Rep. Vic Miller, who said he can’t comprehend “difference between [vaccines] widely accepted over time,” such as those required for school-age children, and the Covid vaccine.
Vaccination requirements have been a hot button issue nationwide as a Dec. 8 deadline approaches for federal contractors to be vaccinated, which will affect millions of American workers. This past week 19 states, including Kansas, filed suit against the Biden administration to block the mandate from going into effect.