An Alaska state lawmaker has shared a post on social media that likens medical experts to Nazi war criminals.
Rep. Ron Gillham, a Republican who represents Kenai in the Statehouse, shared a 1946 photo on Facebook, along with a caption that appeared to express skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The photo shows Nazis being executed in Ukraine after the war, but a caption that accompanied the image in Gillham’s post wrongly claims that it shows medics and journalists being put to death in the war trials at Nuremberg.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, this caption read: “Members of the media who lied and misled the German People were executed, right along with medical doctors and nurses who participated in medical experiments using living people as guinea pigs. Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it.”
The post also included a separate caption that read: “Still so sure you want to try to force me to get the experimental vaccination?”
It is not yet clear whether Gillham added or amended either caption himself.
He removed the post, which was dated June 21, after he was contacted by the Peninsula Clarion. He told the publication on June 28 that he had not meant anything by it.
He told the Clarion: “I just shared it. It’s just one of those things that comes around and you just send it around.”
In a separate statement to the Anchorage Daily News, Gillham attempted to clarify his views, saying: “I do believe that those in the media should be held accountable for what they post. There are those on both sides of the issue so one side is not telling the truth.
“I have my opinion and you have yours. I am not trying to force anyone to believe as I do and I expect the same courtesy.”
Asked if he was calling for the punishment of medical professionals or members of the media, Gillham told the Daily News: “Absolutely not. I am not an advocate for violence.”
According to news agency AFP, the image shared by Gillham has been widely misattributed on social media. The photo in fact shows a public hanging of Nazi war criminals in Kyiv.
Claims that a number of Nazi journalists were put to death after the war are also misleading, AFP said. Only one member of the media—Julius Streicher, who founded the antisemitic newspaper The Stormer—was executed after the war trials at Nuremberg, according to Richard Wilson, professor of anthropology and law at the University of Connecticut,
Earlier this year, Gillham was one of two Alaska state representatives who said they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine. The other is fellow Republican Mike Cronk.
In a March phone interview, Gillham told Alaska Public Media that the vaccine was “experimental” and he did not plan to get the shot.
He added: “I don’t do drugs—that’s the bottom line. I don’t get the flu shot. If I get sick I’ll take an aspirin. I had the COVID. I lost my sense of smell and taste. That’s it. Never got sick.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the U.S. has the safest vaccine supply in its history and that the country’s “long-standing vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible.”
Newsweek has contacted Rep. Gillham for comment.
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