A Louisiana congressman is facing controversy after posting a video message of himself at the memorial site of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, Teen Voguereports. Republican Representative Clay Higgins posted his video to YouTube and, at one point, appears inside a gas chamber, which critics are saying has “politiciz[ed] a genocide.”
Beginning the video near one of the camp’s railroads, Higgins says, “Could be a railroad anywhere, right? Except this was at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the expansion of Auschwitz, where four large gas chambers were built.” As the video continued, Higgins discusses the deaths of “innocent civilians,” but never mentions Jewish people as Auschwitz’s victims.
The video detail causing the most strife with people is one of Higgins’ final comments while in the gas chamber. He tells the camera, “This is why homeland security must be squared away.” As the video finishes, he remarks, “The United States is more accessible to terror like this, horror like this. It’s hard to walk away from gas chambers, ovens without a very sober feeling of commitment, unwavering commitment, to make damn sure that the United States of America is protected from the evils of the world.”
The Auschwitz Memorial’s Twitter account responded to Higgins’ video in a classy way, pointing out that the concentration camp calls for respectful silence.
This is what all visitors see at the entrance to the building where first homicidal gas chambers of Auschwitz was created by the SS. pic.twitter.com/6Mm5gTkfSl
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 4, 2017
Time reports that in a statement following the video’s backlash, Higgins said, “My message has caused pain to some whom I love and respect. For that, my own heart feels sorrow. Out of respect to any who may feel that my video posting was wrong or caused pain, I have retracted my video.”
Regardless of his apology, there is definitely a fine line between respect and what Higgins chose to do while visiting such a powerful site.