Donate to RNS

Hat store owner apologizes for the anti-vax yellow Star of David

She goes where Marjorie Taylor Greene didn't.

Instagram post by @hatwrksnashville. Screen grab

(RNS) — The good news, I guess, is that the owner of the Nashville, Tennessee, hat store that was selling those yellow Jewish stars imprinted with “NOT VACCINATED” has apologized.

“In NO WAY did i intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people,” HatWRKS proprietor Gigi Gaskins wrote on Instagram. “My hope was to share my genuine concern & fear, and to do all that i can to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again.”

Again? Evidently, Gaskins has been fearful that anti-COVID-vaxxers are in danger of being loaded onto cattle cars and taken to the gas chambers.

Whatever — her apology came after the Stetson company tweeted that because of “the offensive content and opinions shared by HatWRKS” it wouldn’t be providing any more of its iconic hats to the store. Likewise, fedora and flat hat manufacturer Goorin Bros., which posted on Instagram:

Goorin Bros is horrified by the display and selling of the Jewish badge by HatWRKS, a store in Nashville Tennessee, that sells some of our hats. The Jewish badge was a key element used by Nazis beginning in 1939 who planned to persecute and eventually murder millions of Jews. They used the badge to humiliate, segregate, and control the movement of all Jews over seven years old.

I guess a little education about the Nazi persecution of the Jews never hurts, so thanks to Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody May 20 got the analogy rolling. Greene spent part of her CBN appearance criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not waiving mask-wearing on the House floor:

You know, we can look back at a time in history when people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens — so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.

Let it be noted that the comment drew no response from Brody, who self-identifies as a Jew albeit one who acknowledges Jesus as his personal Lord and savior (“We call him Yeshua”). It did, of course, draw responses from other quarters.

“Antisemitism is real, dangerous, and on the rise,” tweeted the American Jewish Committee. “Equating public health precautions with the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust is disgraceful and unacceptable.”

In accord with the kind of two-step exemplified by Donald Trump, Greene simultaneously doubled down on what she said and pretended she hadn’t exactly said it. 

On the one hand, she told a Phoenix TV reporter that she “said nothing wrong,” adding: “And I think any rational Jewish person didn’t like what happened in Nazi Germany, and any rational Jewish person doesn’t like what’s happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies.”

On the other, responding to conservative Jewish tweet-meister Ben Shapiro’s criticism of her “bizarrely nutso Holocaust analogy,” she fibbed, “I never compared it to the Holocaust, only the discrimination against Jews in early Nazi years.” 

I’ll put it out there and say that I don’t know of a lot of Jewish persons, rational or otherwise, who liked what happened in Nazi Germany. And also, given that according to PRRI Jews are far and away the least hesitant about COVID vaccination of all religious demographics in the country, that we’re pretty OK with government mask and vaccine policies.

Anyway, responding to Tennessee supermarket chain Food City’s decision to include a special logo on the name badges of vaccinated employees, Greene next proceeded to tweet, “Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.”

Think about that for a moment. Enabling employees to reassure customers with a vaccination logo becomes equivalent to identifying Jews as national pariahs.

And then the code switched to HatWRKS’ yellow star. Who knows when, like King Christian X of Denmark, who apocryphally wore a yellow star to express solidarity with his country’s Jews during the Nazi occupation, vaccinated Trumpers will soon be wearing “NOT VACCINATED” stars in solidarity with their anti-vax brethren.

Of course, the immediate question is whether Gaskins’ apology will get the Stetsons and Goorins coming back to her store. Stay tuned.