Cliff Mass clarifies controversial Nazi Germany comparison in blog post
University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences Cliff Mass found himself in hot water this week, following a post to his personal blog, titled “Seattle: A City in Fear Can Be Restored.” In it, he likened violent Seattle protesters to Nazi Brownshirts on Kristallnacht.
Mass joined KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show to address recent criticism he’s faced, both professionally and on social media, in the wake of that blog post.
Kristallnacht, known commonly as the “Night of Broken Glass,” occurred in early November of 1938 across Nazi Germany. Over 7,000 Jewish businesses, homes, and synagogues were looted and destroyed, while 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and moved to concentration camps.
“Seattle has had it(s) Kristallnacht and the photos of what occurred during the past weeks are eerily similar to those of 80 years ago,” the blog read when it was published Wednesday night.
On Friday, Mass clarified why he chose to frame Seattle’s recent protests within the lens of Kristallnacht.
“For me, a very important analog is what happened in the 1930s,” he said. “You had thugs that were destroying Jewish businesses, marking up Jewish businesses, hassling people, intimidating people, and the general population said nothing.”
“I was simply saying that the people who were doing violence were acting like the Brownshirts,” he added. “Peaceful protesters are fine, that is protected speech. But it’s the violence: That’s what’s wrong.”
Shortly after Mass’s blog was published, NPR affiliate KNKX announced that it would stop airing Mass’ regular weather segment, saying that the post “draws distorted, offensive parallels between protesters and Nazi Brownshirts,” and that “it does not reflect who we are and what we stand for at KNKX.”
“I’ve talked to people internally at the radio station — they just basically panicked with it,” Mass said. “It was an intense mob on social media that was criticizing them, and they made the decision almost instantly.”
Mass has since removed the references to Kristallnacht, stating that they were acting as a “distraction” from his larger point regarding his stance on protesters shattering the windows of downtown businesses, and in one instance, allegedly assaulting a Queen Anne resident.
“That was only a small part of the blog, and I want people to think about the rest of the blog,” he said. “Some people were using that as an excuse; well, I took away the excuse. Let them read the full blog without those sections in.”
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