White House spokesman Sean Spicer apologized a few hours after estimating that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had done worse than Adolf Hitler in using chemical weapons, a comparison that seemed to minimize the Nazism and quickly amended before the outcry.
“In all honesty, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive comment about the Holocaust and there is no comparison,” said Sean Spicer, who was the source of controversy on Tuesday. “I apologize for that. It was a mistake to do that. ”
During his daily press briefing at the White House, he said: “During the Second World War, chemical weapons were not used. A person as abject as Hitler has not even fallen as low as using chemical weapons. ”
Called to clarify his thinking by a journalist a few minutes later, he had added about chemical weapons, in a sinuous answer. “As for sarin gas, [Hitler] did not use gas on his own people in the same way as Assad … I know he brought them to the Holocaust centers. But I’m talking about the way Assad used them, when he went to the cities and dropped them on innocent people, in the middle of the cities … Thank you for the clarification. ”
Accused of seeming to forget the millions of Jews, Germans and others, killed in the gas chambers, the spokesman added a new clarification, stating off the podium: “I did not attempt to downplay the terrible nature of the Holocaust. I tried to create a contrast with the tactic of using airplanes to dump chemical weapons on population centers. ”
“Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable,” he said.
Shortly afterwards, Defense Minister Jim Mattis noted that “even during the Second World War, chemical weapons were not used on the battlefields.” “Since the First World War, there has been an international convention on this subject,” he added at a press conference.
” Fake news “
Jewish associations and elected Democrats quickly denounced anti-Semitic or revisionist remarks. “Nothing less than during the Jewish Passover, Sean Spicer denied the Holocaust, the most disgusting form of fake news possible, denying that Hitler gassed millions of Jews,” said Steven Goldstein, director of the Anne Center Frank in the United States.
“The main spokesman of the White House minimizes the horror of the Holocaust,” said Nancy Pelosi, head of the Democrats of the House of Representatives. “Sean Spicer must be dismissed, and the president must immediately disavow his spokesman.”
The critics also pointed to the fact that Mr. Spicer, in his blurred reply, said “his own people”, appearing to make a distinction between Germans and Jews. “Hitler said that German Jews were not German to justify his atrocities,” recalled Democrat Jerry Nadler on Twitter.
“The term you were looking for is a concentration camp,” Democrat Senator Ben Cardin said.
Regarding the use of chemical weapons, “Hitler used gas in concentration camps extensively, but he never used them against soldiers or cities,” said Professor of Political Science Richard Price, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and author of a book on chemical weapons.
Analyzes confirm the use of sarin gas
Analyzes of the wounded confirmed that sarin, a powerful neurotoxic agent, was used in an attack that left dozens dead last week in Syria, Turkish Health Minister . After blood and urine tests from carefully wounded people in Turkey, “it has been established that sarin gas has been used,” Recep Akdag said. The presence of isopropyl methylphosphonic acid, an element that “signs” the use of gas, has been noted. Several countries have designated Bashar al-Assad’s regime as responsible for the attack, which left 87 dead, including dozens of children.