The wife of a state senator compared a statement of Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, who is Jewish, to edicts of Nazi Germany, which prompted Sen. Andrew Brenner to respond “We will never allow that to happen in Ohio.”
When asked to elaborate Wednesday on the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, the Powell Republican said, “It is unfortunate comments meant to show concern about potentially putting in place health standards that are too stringent, were smeared into an insensitive political attack on the director. I believe in finding a responsible balance between protecting the public’s health and the health of the economy.”
When the senator was asked if he was disagreeing with his wife’s comments or in how they’ve been used, he replied, “How they have been used by the left and this is all I am going to say on it.”
Earlier this week, Sen. Brenner said Ohio had reached the point where “the cure is far worse than the virus at this point.”
The volatile statement from Sara Marie Brenner, long an outspoken conservative activist who once sang the national anthem for a Donald Trump campaign event, followed an overtly anti-Semitic display over the weekend during a Statehouse protest demanding Ohio be reopened.
When asked about the latter during his daily press briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine said, “It was disgusting, it was vile and it should have no place in this discussion or any other public discussion … that’s not fair game, that’s wrong, and I think everyone has an obligation to denounce it.”
Acton’s statement Tuesday about the coronavirus that created a stir in some quarters: “In some countries they’re looking at certificates to say you’re immune and therefore you’d be able to go about your business. It would be a dream if we could get something like that.”
In Wednesday’ briefing, she said, “I was actually referring to it in a different context. I was referring to it in the context of business … and ways business could reopen and we could support the economy.”
She said she was talking about antibody testing, which shows that you’ve had the disease and thus likely immune. One of the possible solutions to reopening Ohio businesses would be if employees had proof of such tests. By ‘proof of them,’ she said, it could be a doctor’s note or record of a test.
“The dream about it is for all of us … you could go about your life, and you wouldn’t worry about passing it along to someone else or getting it yourself,” the health director said. But while that “would be really useful information for all of us,” the results would be between you and your doctor, not the government.
DeWine said such tests would be useful to empower an individual’s decisions.
Sara Marie Brenner’s reaction on Facebook to Acton’s original statement was caustic.
“With a German accent, in your head say ‘show me your papers’…This is downright scary! You don’t issue people certificates to be able to function outside their home. … This actually feels like Hitler’s Germany where you had to have blonde hair and blue eyes to be able to function anywhere, and you were damned otherwise. When are people going to say enough is enough?”
Rep. Emilia Sykes of Akron, Democratic leader of the Ohio House, said, “To make this comparison any day of the year, let alone on Holocaust Remembrance Day, is outright reprehensible. For anyone to think this was acceptable behavior is alarming, most of all a state senator elected to serve Ohioans of all religions and backgrounds.”
But by late Wednesday afternoon, Sara Marie Brenner had taken down the offending post.
“Due to a disgusting twisting of what I said yesterday regarding Dr. Acton’s ‘carry a certificate’ comment, I have removed my post regarding it. It’s unfortunate that some would turn what I said into comments that they were never intended to be.
“Many of us are very upset with the policies being put forth in Ohio right now. However, disagreement with my views on the issues should never be used as a catalyst to attack someone’s faith, ethnicity or race, as has been done here. Those who thought I made anti-semitic comments are the same people who say I would be a racist for scrutinizing Barack Obama. It’s a dog whistle, and it’s a sad day when that’s the status of the first amendment in America.”
It was not the first time Sara Marie Brenner had been critical of Acton, however.
“How can ANYONE praise Acton?” she said in a post last week about virus infection projections. “I could’ve been more accurate playing “pin the tail on the donkey” with the blindfold on and holding the dart in my teeth.”
Sen. Brenner was among the earliest to question the Ohio modeling and push DeWine to reopen Ohio, although his public rhetoric has not been nearly as strident.