A North Carolina legislator on Monday apologized for referring to Nazi collaborators in France when noting that few conservatives have spoken out against President Donald Trump.
On Monday morning, Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson of Charlotte tweeted that he’s surprised that there’s no “organized conservative resistance” to Trump.
“Everyone just wants to party in Vichy France,” Jackson tweeted.
After signing an armistice with Germany in 1940, French lawmakers essentially dissolved their parliament and created a new government in Vichy. This government – authoritarian and anti-Semitic – ruled until 1942 and at one point participated in the deportation of 13,000 Jews to Auschwitz.
In an interview about the tweet Monday morning, Jackson said he wasn’t comparing the actions of conservatives with those of French citizens in Vichy. He said Vichy “is a metaphor for short-term thinking by the residents of an occupied land.” Trump represents the opposite of what traditional conservatives believe because he’s “openly dishonest, self-obsessed, proudly uninformed – and yet it appears being close to power is too intoxicating for many of them to act with the sobriety they have long considered a defining attribute,” Jackson said.
His tweet drew negative reactions from some of his Republican colleagues in the N.C. General Assembly.
“Disappointing comment from an otherwise respected colleague. It speaks loudly as to how [dysfunctional] the political system seems to be,” state Rep. Chuck McGrady of Henderson County tweeted.
State Rep. John Torbett of Gaston County also responded on social media, tweeting: “I could say so much about your comparison and the millions of innocent folks that were murdered during the Holocaust Jeff Jackson but I’ll just leave it as you’re so very, very, very, wrong.”
Monday afternoon, Jackson deleted the tweet and apologized.
“This morning, I tried to make the point that I was surprised we hadn’t seen an organized conservative resistance to Trump – which I am. But I made a comparison to Vichy France, which I absolutely should not have done. I apologize and will learn from this,” Jackson tweeted.
He didn’t retract his broader point, saying he remains disappointed many conservatives believe “the price of criticizing Trump is too high for them to bear. Their movement needs to fight back, or it risks being swallowed whole.”
There are few Republicans who have consistently rebuked Trump. Those who have include U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker and Bill Kristol, an editor at conservative Weekly Standard magazine. At the grassroots level, some conservatives have used the “Never Trump” hashtag on social media to express their views of the president. But their effort to build conservative opposition to Trump has largely been in vain.
North Carolina’s U.S. senators – Republicans Richard Burr and Thom Tillis – have said they support Trump’s agenda. But Tillis has criticized Trump’s tone and introduced a bill to provide protection for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.
Burr, meanwhile, last year said he avoids trips to the White House while the Senate Intelligence Committee – which he chairs – investigates possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
If Republicans in state government are critical of Trump, they’ve mostly kept those feelings to themselves. Publicly, they’ve mostly kept quiet about Trump.