Over the weekend, Nikki Fried — a Democrat running to become the next Governor of Florida — compared Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) to Adolf Hitler.
During COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession, DeSantis — who was among the first Republican governors to reopen his state — quickly emerged as a national conservative leader, calling for a return to normalcy while protecting the most vulnerable. Fried, who serves as Florida’s agricultural commissioner, has led Democrats in her state in criticizing DeSantis.
In an interview with NPR’s Friday Roundup Podcast, however, Fried took her criticism to the next level: comparing DeSantis to Adolf Hitler.
During the conversation, Co-host Melissa Ross asked Fried to explain a tweet calling DeSantis a “dictator.” In response, she explained that DeSantis’ policies are similar to those passed during “the rise of Hitler.”
Democrat candidate Nikki Fried on DeSantis’s policies as governor: “That’s exactly what Hitler did to the Jews back during World War II.”
Now I don’t have a PhD in history, but I’m pretty sure that’s not *exactly* what Hitler did to the Jews during WWII.pic.twitter.com/9OfoD2fcsX
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) January 16, 2022
“Growing up in Miami, you know, and having neighbors that were Cubans — growing up with hearing the stories of so many of our Floridians who have left dictatorships and communism and socialist countries — and coming here to the state of Florida for capitalism, for open opportunities to succeed: [DeSantis] is doing everything possible to take away power from local governments,” Fried said. “Taking away people’s abilities to protest. Making it harder to vote. Talking about banning books.”
“That’s what dictators do,” Fried continued. “Instead of listening and trying to govern with the people, he is trying to govern over the people, and, you know, that, I’m sorry, I’m a student of history, too. I saw the rise of Hitler, I learned those stories.”
“Are you comparing DeSantis to Hitler?” pressed Ross. “In a lot of ways, yes,” Fried responded. “I have studied Hitler and how he got to power, you know, wanting his own militia.”
When Ross pointed out that several other states have their own militias, Fried doubled down: “This governor is doing it for the sole purposes of power and doing so to make fear and to instill that, to blame people for what is happening in their lives, blaming certain parts of our society and culture, and that’s exactly what Hitler did to the Jews back during World War II.”
Ross noted that Fried’s response resembled Godwin’s Law — the notion that the probability of invoking Hitler increases to 1 as any online discussion continues. “Do I think that we’re going to get to the extent of Hitler’s power?” Fried replied. “Of course not. But the rise of his power and what he did to scapegoat certain parts … that’s what this governor is doing.”
DeSantis’ colleagues quickly rose to condemn Fried’s remarks.
“Hitler systematically murdered 6 million Jews and appx 3 million others. @GovRonDeSantis is loved by the Jewish community and has led our state with dignity on so many issues,” said Gabriel Groisman, mayor of Bal Harbour, Florida. “@NikkiFried, Your desperation is showing. Disagreeing with his policies doesn’t make him Hitler. Low.”
“Nikki Fried is no student of history,” added Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, citing DeSantis’ various actions on behalf of Jewish-Americans.
“This comparison is repulsive, offensive, and minimizes Hitler’s evil crimes against humanity,” wrote Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis in an email to supporters.