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Anti-Defamation League calls Nazi comparisons 'offensive' after Fried compares DeSantis to Hitler

During an interview with NPR's Florida Roundup, Fried compared the governor's actions to Adolf Hitler's rise to power.
Credit: AP

FLORIDA, USA — The Florida Anti-Defamation League and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' office responded to comments made last week by Democratic Agricultural Commissioner and political rival Nikki Fried, who is running against him for governor.

Speaking on a radio talk show, Fried compared DeSantis to Adolf Hitler.

During an interview on NPR's Florida Roundup, Fried was asked about her past comments comparing DeSantis to an authoritarian leader. Fried said she stood by her previous statement, explaining how she believes the governor has passed laws stripping authority away from local governments and making it harder to vote.

"I'm sorry. I'm a student of history too. I saw the rise of Hitler," Fried then said.

The host of the program interrupted Fried to clarify the comparison.

"Are you comparing DeSantis to Hitler," the host asked.

"In a lot of ways, yes," Fried responded.

She would go on to compare DeSantis' comments about reviving the Florida State Guard to Hitler's rise to power. The host would again push back, pointing to the fact that other states have the same voluntary defense force. Fried responded by pointing out what she views as the difference between DeSantis and other governors.

"The reason why this governor wants [a state guard] is different than the other states that have been utilizing it for emergency purposes. This governor is doing it for the sole purposes of power," Fried claimed.

The host would then ask Fried what she had to say to those who found her comparison offensive.

"Do I think that we're going to get to the extent of Hitler's power? Of course not," Fried replied. "But, the rise of his power and what he did to scapegoat certain parts, especially the Jewish community in Germany, and how he utilized going after the media, going after and scapegoating people...that's what this governor is doing."

In response to Fried's statement, DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw called the agricultural commissioner's claim "as offensive as it is absurd."

"With this hysterical comparison, Fried not only smears millions of Floridians as Nazis, but also trivializes Hitler's crimes against humanity," Pushaw said.

10 Tampa Bay has reached out to Fried's government office for comment. On Twitter Sunday, she appeared to stand by her remarks.

"Ron DeSantis and his anti-democratic demagoguery is a danger to our state, our country, and yes, the world," she wrote. "Choose your own historical example if you want, but it’s the damn truth."

The Florida Anti-Defamation League weighed in on the back-and-forth, saying, "While public officials may have disagreements over policies, comparisons to the Holocaust and Nazism are inappropriate, offensive, and trivialize this unique tragedy in human history."

In the past, the CEO of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, has said that people tend to use Hitler or the Holocaust as an analogy because it is the easiest example of right versus wrong. However, Greenblatt reminds people that "one does not have to be Hitler — or even Benito Mussolini — to be a very troubling American political figure." 

Greenblatt offers that people switch from "reckless name-calling" to responsible discussions of issues. 

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