CHICAGO — A Republican candidate dubbed "Joe the Plumber" came under fire Wednesday for tying the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide to gun control in a campaign video for an Ohio congressional seat.
Samuel Wurzelbacher became a hit among conservatives after confronting President Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2008.
The video shows Wurzelbacher loading up a shotgun and pulverizing fruits and vegetables while a voice over intones: "In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated.
"In 1939 Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945 six million Jews and seven million others, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated," the voice continues.
Then Wurzelbacher turns to the camera, smiles and says, "I love America."
The video is just the latest in a rising number of offensive incidents in which the Holocaust is invoked for political gain, said Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights at Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish group.
"These kinds of references and analogies do not have any place in civil discourse," Lauter told AFP.
"While reasonable people can disagree about gun control policies, invoking the Holocaust as a political tool and suggesting that the Nazi regime's systematic and brutal murder of six million Jews and millions of others was the result of gun control is deeply offensive."
Wurzelbacher struck back at his detractors in a series of Twitter posts lambasting the "media spin."
"No one in the video said gun control CAUSED genocide," he wrote, adding in a later post: "Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that his agenda would not be possible unless the people were disarmed."
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