Gov. Phil Murphy issued an impassioned rebuke of lockdown opponents who have likened restrictions imposed by the state to blunt the spread of COVID-19 to fascism.
“Across the nation, we have seen other freely-elected leaders — of both parties, by the way — demeaned and depicted as Hitler himself,” the governor said. “Not only is this an entirely disgusting false equivalence, it is ignorant, and it is repugnant. It is ignorant of history and the horrific toll of fascism that is counted in the tens of millions who were killed by its megalomaniacal leaders, led by Hitler, but not only Hitler.”
Friday is the 75th anniversary of VE day, which marked the end of fighting in the Western front of World War II.
Anti-lockdown protesters who descended on the capital over the last two weeks have charged that Murphy’s restrictions on businesses and gatherings amount to fascism.
The governor has derided those criticisms in the past, and while he issued a much harsher rebuke of claims he was a fascist on Friday, he again defended the protesters’ rights, though that defense did not come without a wrist-slap over rhetoric.
“The rights of people today to protest are sacrosanct. That’s not in doubt, but so should our history. So should decency,” he said. “As our greatest generation slips from us, as survivors of the holocaust slip from us, whether from age or as we have seen tragically form COVID-19, we cannot let the lessons they taught us slip away with them. Never forget. Never again.”