Senator Frank Niceley invoked Hitler to argue for a bill criminalizing camping on public property.
Hitler “continued to lead a life that put him in the history books” after being homeless, he said.
He added that Hitler led “a very unproductive life”. Critics say the bill unfairly targets the homeless.
A Republican state senator from Tennessee has invoked Nazi leader Adolf Hitler to bolster his argument for a bill that would criminalize homeless encampments on public property.
Speaking during a Wednesday debate on the bill, which would classify camping on public property as an offense punishable by a $50 fine or community service, Sen. Frank Niceley said argue that homeless people can “get out of these homeless camps” and lead remarkable lives. .
“I wanted to give you a little homelessness history,” Niceley said. “1910, Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So, for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practiced his eloquence, body language and how to connect with citizens, then continued to lead a life that got him into the history books.”
“So all of these people – it’s not a dead end, they can get out of this, these homeless camps, and have a productive life or in Hitler’s case, a very unproductive life,” Niceley continued. , referring to the German leader who rose to power in the 1930s before starting World War II and committing the Holocaust, which resulted in the systematic murder of millions of people, including 6 million Jews.
Hitler experienced a period of homelessness, including living in a homeless hostel in Vienna from 1910 to 1913. A struggling artist at the time, he later said it was the “hardest period and the saddest” of his life.
The Tennessee bill, which was later approved by the Senate on a 22-10 vote, is now heading to the office of Republican Gov. Bill Lee. This comes after the state made camping on state property a criminal offense in 2020.
According to News 9 in Chattanooga, the bill allows local law enforcement offices to punish homeless people at their discretion, with the fine not being mandatory. It also allows for a citation for the first offense.
“It breaks my heart that we are criminalizing people who have nowhere to go,” Democratic state Senator Brenda Gilmore said, according to News 9, adding that the bill could separate the homeless from their children.
Nicely is no stranger to controversy. In 2009, he and 3 other Tennessee Republican lawmakers joined a legal effort to try to force President Barack Obama to hand over his birth certificate to prove he was born in the United States. Niceley argued at the time that some of Obama’s Kenyan relatives said the president was born there. And in 2017, he told E&E News that carbon dioxide, the emissions of which are a major driver of climate change, is “not a pollutant, it’s just as natural as oxygen.”
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