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‘Violating, assaulting, victimizing’: German educator speaks out against Nazi language seen on license plates

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 7:48 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In the days leading up to Wednesday, which is recognized as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a controversy over Nazi language displayed on state-issued license plates and an elected official’s response to the plates on social media captured an Anchorage educator’s attention.

“It is unacceptable,” Antje Carlson said during an interview Wednesday.

Carlson was referring to photos of Alaska license plates bearing the words “FUHRER” and “3REICH.” Both plates have been revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to the Department of Administration, and an investigation into how the plates were approved is ongoing.

Jamie Allard, a conservative who represents Chugiak and Eagle River residents on the Anchorage Assembly, weighed in on the controversy on social media.

“Fuhrer means leader or guide in Deutsch, Reich is realm. If you speak the language fluently, you would know that the English definition of the word, the progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition,” she wrote in a comment that has been shared widely through screenshots on social media.

She went on to express concern about the future of the word “taco” and wrote, “Ban on foreign words? Do they know how idiotic they sound?”

Her comments sparked outrage among many Alaskans while stirring her supporters to come to her defense.

Carlson, a German citizen whose native language is German, called Allard’s statements absurd.

“I do really not know what that means, ‘the progressives,’ who exactly is this? The connotation is clear. It is Nazi Germany, Third Reich created by Hitler, and there is no ifs, ands or buts about it,” she said.

Allard read a statement at Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting, saying her words had been misinterpreted.

“I condemn racism and white supremacy in all forms,” she said. “I understand that some have misinterpreted my recent comments as defending a specific license plate. That was never my intention. Nor have I done so. In fact, I find the plate in question in poor taste. I do not support any application of racism or race supremacy in any way. My apologies if this came across offensive. Thank you.”

Allard’s statement was met with applause and cheers from a group of people at the meeting, a stark contrast to the crowd’s reaction when acting Anchorage Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson read a statement denouncing hate-based ideologies.

“It is our collective obligation to speak out forcefully against Nazism, white supremacy or any other ideology that directs…” Quinn-Davidson said before she was interrupted by people attending the meeting.

As the crowd quieted, she continued, “or any other ideology that directs hate rather than care toward members of our community.”

Carlson said while she was not born until after the Holocaust, she has felt a responsibility during her adult life to educate others about her country’s history and the harm that words like those seen on the now-revoked license plates inflict.

“I have lived all my life with the shame of what happened in my native country. All my life. I wish I could undo. I can’t. Apologies don’t do it justice,” she said. “It is violating, assaulting, victimizing those who can’t speak for themselves anymore. It takes once again away the dignity of the human life. And thus, it was what infuriates me. We are very frivolous and careless and mindless with the use of this particular language that stands for the killing of people, and I cannot stand by it and I will not have it. There is no rationale, no explanation that would justify such a display of words.”

Allard has since been removed from the State Human Rights Commission, a board Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed her to in 2019.

Wednesday, she declined to participate in an interview, saying Alaska’s News Source had already received her statement.

Questions sent to the Department of Administration multiple times about when the offensive license plates were first issued have gone unanswered. A spokesperson said a report on the DMV’s investigation into the process by which the plates were approved is expected by next Friday.

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