The Protest Was in Chicago. Criticism Came From Auschwitz

The Auschwitz Museum was no fan of the sign she carried
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2020 1:36 PM CDT
She Went to Illinois Protest, Is Chided by Auschwitz Museum
Protesters rally against Illinois stay-at-home order outside the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, Friday, May 1, 2020. The Friday demonstration is the latest in a series of protests around the country against stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

One of the protesters who showed up in Chicago on Friday to rally against the lockdown measures in place wore an American flag mask on her face. The sign in her hands brought to mind another country and place altogether—and the Auschwitz Museum and Memorial wasn't pleased. Dennis Kosuth—who ABC News reports was present as a counter-protester—snapped a photo of the woman, whose sign held the German words "Arbeit macht frei, JB." Those first three words make up the phrase the Nazis incorporated into Auschwitz's gate; it translates to "work will set you free." NBC News reports that Kosuth wrote that the woman "assured" them that she wasn't a Nazi.

On Saturday, the Auschwitz Museum responded on Twitter, writing, "'Arbeit macht frei' was a false, cynical illusion the SS gave to prisoners of #Auschwitz. Those words became one of the icons of human hatred. It's painful to see this symbol instrumentalized & used again to spread hate. It's a symptom of moral & intellectual degeneration." JB is an apparent reference to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, who is himself Jewish. On Saturday he noted some Friday protesters carried signs "filled with hate. ... I've spent decades of my life fighting against bigotry & hatred," he noted. The Chicago Sun-Times adds that Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth weighed in on Sunday: "That Nazi slogan is not acceptable," she said. (Michigan's governor said protests in her own state were filled with "the worst racism.")

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