For someone who claims not to be enamored of Hitler and the Nazis, freshman Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina sure does seem to have a penchant for invoking Nazi symbolism on social media.
Cawthorn's newest antics, while subtler than, say, Instagramming his vacation to see Hitler's vacation home, are just as shocking.
Yesterday, Cawthorn repurposed a quote about the Holocaust to promote a sale on campaign merch—the day after Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In a tweet promoting the sale, Cawthorn wrote:
"First they came for our Free Speech, then they came for our Free Markets, next they'll come for our Free Shipping on orders $50 or more with promo code: FREEDOM50."
The tweet is a mimickry of a poem about the Holocaust by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller.
It is among the most commonly cited works from the Nazi era.
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist."
"Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist."
"Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew."
"Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
Nothing like joking around about the genocide of 6 million Jews and 5 million others—Romani, intellectuals, the disabled and LGBTQ people.
But given Cawthorn's history, this sort of profoundly crass dog whistling is par for the course. He expressed offense at the suggestion he was anti-Semitic and obliquely called the Holocaust "one of the greatest evils of human history."
Cawthorn nonetheless called his visit to Hitler's Eagle's Nest retreat an item on his "bucket list." He also referred to Hitler with the honorific "Führer" in his Instagram posts documenting that trip.
He has also spoken openly about his attempts to convert Jews to Christianity, calling them "difficult" for their resistance to his proselytizing. And he closely aligned himself with right-wing extremist politicians who have trafficked in conspiracy theories like QAnon, which frequently makes thinly veiled, and sometimes overt, anti-Semitic claims.
On Twitter, many people were profoundly disgusted by Cawthorn's audacious tweet.
Cawthorn may or may not be an anti-Semite himself, but he certainly has no problem aligning with Congresspeople who are and mocking the Holocaust for clicks.
Interesting choices for someone who claims to be offended by the accusation of anti-Semitism.