Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is in some hot water with the Jewish community after his campaign tweeted—and then quietly deleted—several messages urging backers to read an article comparing black Republican voters to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis.
Chicago Sun Times readers were stunned last week to find that writer Neil Steinberg has penned a column comparing black supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis against their brethren.
“As a general rule, individuals will sell out the interests of their groups in return for personal benefit,” Steinberg wrote in his column, which claimed that Rauner is buying off the black community and its leaders. “It isn’t just a black thing. Jews collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping them to round up their own people in the hopes they’d be the last to go.”
Quinn’s camp praised the piece and tweeted it out to supporters several times. The tweets were deleted after local Jewish community officials quietly communicated their outrage to the governor.
“If Rauner is willing to throw his own money away like this, what’s he going to do when he gets his hands on ours?” read one now-deleted tweet from Quinn’s campaign account.
The campaign also retweeted—and then deleted—a missive from Steinberg promoting his piece.
Both tweets were captured by the website Politwoops, which archives political tweets for posterity.
Some in the Chicago Jewish community say that they were outraged by Quinn’s support of the Nazi rhetoric, which was disseminated over Passover, the holiday marking the ancient Jewish people’s release from slavery.
“Coming during Passover just a few days after the [anti-Semitic] shootings in Kansas, this kind of rhetoric was beyond outrageous,” said one local Jewish community insider. “Community leaders immediately contacted the governor's office and urged retraction.”
Sources say that the heads of several major Jewish organizations personally registered their outrage with Quinn.
Even those in the Chicago political world say they were stunned by the Quinn campaign’s endorsement of the piece.
“I don't think I've ever seen a Democratic official embrace racist rhetoric and Holocaust imagery like Pat Quinn did here,” said one Chicago political strategist. “It's possible this was a campaign staff mistake—but the buck stops with the governor and he better start vetting every tweet personally going forward.”
“It’s beyond unbecoming of a governor to insinuate that any black person who disagrees with him is a race traitor," said RNC communications director for black media Orlando Watson. "The only traitor here is Quinn, who, after winning support from black voters in 2010, has failed to create real job opportunities for those who need it most and continues to block children from access to quality schools. There’s a reason why black voters in Illinois are dropping Quinn and supporting Rauner: It’s Governor Quinn’s abysmal record in the black community.”
Steinberg’s column focused mainly on what he claimed was Republican Rauner’s attempts to court African American community leader Hermene Hartman, who is a well-known publisher.
Steinberg went on to compare Hartman’s relationship with Rauner with those Jews who complied with the Nazis during World War II.
“There is the larger issue here, of Rauner buying not just Hartman but a community,” Steinberg wrote. “Lots of ministers with roofs to repair. I’d like to hear from any black Illinoisan—who’s not in Rauner’s direct employ — who thinks that arrogant rich guy is the man to run the state.”
The Quinn campaign has not officially publicly apologized for promoting the piece or acknowledged deleting its tweets.
The Quinn campaign could not immediately comment because everyone was "in a meeting," according to a staffer answering phones at Quinn's campaign office.