Sean Spicer provoked widespread condemnation Tuesday morning after botching an attempt to defend Donald Trump’s Syria policy by citing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons, and then claiming that Adolf Hitler never used them.
“Hitler didn’t even sink to the level of using chemical weapons,” Spicer said in this morning’s press conference. Suffice to say, Nazi Germany systematically killed millions of people in gas chambers at death camps during World War II, often using the gas Zyklon B, a form of hydrogen cyanide, which notably is definitely a chemical.
Moments later, the White House Press Secretary attempted to clarify his remark but only dug the hole deeper. Hitler, Spicer claimed, was “not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing.” It’s worth noting that an estimated 210,000 German Jews, 15,000 German homosexuals, and thousands of German dissidents were among the millions murdered during the Holocaust.
Spicer also referred to death camps as “the Holocaust center.”
Shocking no one, the reaction was not good, particularly as Spicer made his comments on Passover. Twitter erupted in an avalanche of mockery, criticism and outrage over what many people described as mild Holocaust denialism. See the reactions below.
Sean Spicer a week from now: “I did not mean it literally when I said that I wanted to fuck Hitler I just meant that were I to fuck Hitler I
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) April 11, 2017
"The ants have reached my brain" pic.twitter.com/xlXtAHAfoc
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) April 11, 2017
"Hitler re-accommodated some people." – Sean Spicer
— ✡️Josh Shahryar ☪ (@JShahryar) April 11, 2017
Maybe Spicey doesn't believe Hitler used chemical weapons bc he works for an Admin that refuses to name Jews as victims of Holocaust?
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) April 11, 2017
"Even Hitler didn't have a private email server." -Sean Spicer, probably.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) April 11, 2017
— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) April 11, 2017
now the louisville courier journal will get you the dirt on the reporter who got sean spicer to make his dumb hitler remark
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) April 11, 2017
Sean Spicer is on salary and gets health benefits. https://t.co/3Pc8oyyfpD
— Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) April 11, 2017
SEAN SPICER, TOMORROW: "The way the media reported my Hitler comments yesterday is absolutely a blood libel"
— jesse (@jesseltaylor) April 11, 2017
Spicer yesterday: Not for POTUS to say whether Assad is a war criminal
Spicer today: Assad worse than Hitler and his holocaust centers
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) April 11, 2017
So according to Sean Spicer, the 6 million who were gassed by Hitler, were not "innocent people?" That's the gist of his statement.
— Katty Kay (@KattyKayBBC) April 11, 2017
whom could have predicted that Spicer talking extemporaneously about Hitler would have turned out thusly
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) April 11, 2017
Melissa McCarthy after watching that Spicer presser disaster pic.twitter.com/9cLVS4rNk7
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) April 11, 2017
MSNBC with the winning chyron. pic.twitter.com/BxVFpBooVF
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) April 11, 2017
Spicer eventually released a statement, saying he did not intend to dominish the Holocaust. “In no way was I trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust,” he said. “I was trying to draw a distinction of the tactic of using airplanes to drop chemical weapons on population centers. Any attack on innocent people is reprehensible and inexcusable.”