Since the grassroots began taking over the Oklahoma GOP during this year’s precinct, county, and state conventions they have received considerable backlash from establishment Republicans, who have bristled at the thought of losing control of the party.
This tension rose to a boiling point this weekend when the Oklahoma Republican Party’s Facebook page published a post on Friday that called on constituents to contact the acting Governor Pinnell to call a special session or take executive orders to address vaccination mandates. The post draws comparison between the restriction and marking of the Jews in Germany prior to WW2 to the restrictions of the unvaccinated in the United States.
The post which had the picture above attached with it said.
“Please contact Lt Governor Matt Pinnell” and “Politely request he call for a special legislative session to address private employer VACCINE mandates, or their employees face risk of termination.”
This post which has received nearly two thousand comments had varying reaction from members of the community and public officials alike. Responses that agreed with the post echoed the call saying things like:
“the parallels of removing rights of a sect of people bit by bit should make you want to pay attention, not pretend it’s not happening.” -Jamie McGuire
Despite the minority of responses that support the Oklahoma Republican Party’s post, immediate criticism from community members that disagreed with the post. Replies saying things such as:
“I call on the state GOP chairman to remove this post immediately. The yellow star is a sacred representation and using it for this purpose is outrageous.” – Steven Chasteen
“I’m ashamed to be a Republican after seeing this. I will be changing my party. How dare you compare the two situations?? Completely disgusting.” -Laura Powell
However, the disagreement with the post did not stop there, it also garnered a response from within the sitting members within Oklahoma’s House of Representatives. Rep. Josh West (R-Oklahoma City) published a post stating that he disagrees with OKGOP State Chairman John Bennett and the post that was made. In West’s post, he makes it clear that he disagrees with the messaging and the comparison, stating:
“Getting a lot of calls tonight after the Chairman of the Oklahoma GOP John Bennett, put out a post on their Facebook page, dealing with private companies implementing vaccine policies and comparing those that choose to not get the CV-19 vaccine, to the victims of the Holocaust. What a stupid thing to say, even for Bennett.”
Rep. West continues by make a jab directly at Bennett stating:
“My response…John Bennett is a joke. He’s the same guy who I served with in the legislature, that talked about waste year after year, but never did anything to find the waste. The same guy who called for an opponent against me, because I busted a house member (who I won’t name, but his initials are M.R.) who wore a Purple Heart that he didn’t earn, along with Airborne wings, a Ranger tab, a 101st Airborne Div patch. Who also claimed to be a member of the Disabled American Veterans and also claimed to be an Eagle Scout, all were verified to be untrue.”
Rep. West also received varying responses and comments regarding his post. Some say that he is out of “grove” with the constituents” in that he does not understand that some peoples exemptions are being denied. Liza Greve, President of Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights, offering him proof that their religious exemptions and medical exemptions are being denied, with one person saying:
“Rep. West exemptions are being denied and there is no personal exemption in health care, that is only schools. Just wanted to clarify and if you want me to send you copies of the denied exemptions, I can. There is no state law to protect exemptions outside of daycare and schools. Employers can provide exemptions or not, deny and even give a religious test that I can also send you. They can and are being denied in some cases.”
While others congratulated him for standing up and doing what they believe is right. With comments saying things like:
“I just saw this on the news. How disgusting. Thank you for always having the level-headed and appropriate response.” -Richard Van Dyke
“Absolutely!! Thank you, Josh for all you do!! God Bless!! ” – Angie Husong-Mullikin
The commentary didn’t stop there, it continued with the Oklahoma Republican Party Vice Chairman Shane Jemison releasing a statement:
“The Holocaust remains to be the largest genocide in modern world history and should be remembered as such. Many brave families’ generations before our time stood boldly against the evil that was incited through the actions of tyranny. This recent post by the Oklahoma Republican Party is offensive to the survivors and victims, of the Holocaust, as well as the Jewish people. The Oklahoma Republican Party believes in limited government, individual liberty, and personal moral responsibility. We believe Oklahoma is the land of opportunity for all people who work hard and abide by just and equally applied laws. Oklahomans strive every day to take care of their families, engage in their communities and support one another.
Vaccines should remain voluntary and never forced in Oklahoma. It should always be up to Oklahomans to exercise personal responsibility to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. Equating the possibility of private entities requiring their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to the Holocaust is beyond abhorrent, disgraceful, and a gross misrepresentation of the Republican Party and its values here in Oklahoma and nationally.”
At 2 PM today the Oklahoma GOP Chairman John Bennett released a video explaining his post and his reasons for posting it. When speaking about the backlash from his party Bennett stated, “My own fellow Republicans came out against me”. Speaking directly to the comments and statements made by members of his party and other public officials. He continues by explaining why he chose the star explaining how the star was placed on Jews prior to the genocide began and how they mandated them to be identified saying:
“they give them a star to put on them, they couldn’t go to the grocery store, they couldn’t go out in public, they couldn’t do anything.”
Then drawing the comparison by saying,
“take away the star and add a vaccine passport.”
Bennett continues in explaining his rational, explaining why his post is relevant and important to Oklahomans:
“its not about the star, what its about is a totalitarian government pushing communism upon us.”
Then in what can only be a strike back and a rebuke of the comments made against him he strikes at how legislatures and the governor have not yet taken action saying:
“it is not about sending out press releases its about taking action.”
“instead of supporting freedom and liberty here in Oklahoma they said I shouldn’t have referenced the star.”
At the end, Bennett cites the Declaration of Independence and the explaining the importance of the PEOPLE saying,
“it isn’t the government granting our unalienable rights to us, it’s the people compelling their government to acknowledge our rights.”
Ending with a call to action that can be heard across both sides of the political aisle “let’s put freedom back on the offensive where it belongs.”
The full link to Bennett’s response can be seen here: https://rumble.com/vkm1ey-chairman-update.html
Ignite Liberty has reached out to Representative West’s office for comment, however, at this time we have not received a response. Ignite Liberty will provide an update when it becomes available.
When Ignite Liberty reached out Leslie NesSmith, the Director of Media and Public Relations for the OKGOP, she stated:
“To suggest that Chairman Bennett’s use of the symbol of the Star of David is anti-Semitic would be tantamount to saying people who display the Christian cross are anti-Christian or pro-crucifixion. It’s utterly absurd.”
If Governor Stitt or Lt Governor Pinnell do not call a Special Session, then the next time the legislatures will meet for a session will be in October to address the federal redistricting. Over the next several months these tensions will need to be addressed and rectified, especially as the party moves towards the vital midterm election. The problems that Oklahoma Republican Party are experiencing are just an example of how the party as a whole are struggling with deciding on what values and beliefs are uncompromisable and in what direction the party should go.
– Jonathan Hewitt