A Kansas House leader said Thursday that her intent was to criticize Planned Parenthood when she called Adolf Hitler’s words profound in a Facebook post.
“Great quote from Hitler in the video,” Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, the No. 3 Republican in the Kansas House, posted to her Facebook page Thursday morning. “Please listen to it closely. His words are profound! Let’s start using discernment.”
Mast, who is not seeking re-election, did not return phone calls. She did, however, take to social media to clarify her position.
She said in another Facebook post that her intent was to compare Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest reproductive health provider, to the Nazi leader and that she “was not in any way agreeing with Hitler’s words.”
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Mast’s initial post did not contain a video. An hour later, she shared a link to an article from JulieRoys.com, a Christian blog. The article included a transcript and video of anti-abortion activist Gianna Jessen testifying before Congress about Planned Parenthood.
During her testimony, Jessen quoted Hitler on propaganda, contending that Planned Parenthood used techniques similar to those of the Nazis.
“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan,” Hitler said in the quotation.
Mast’s initial post puzzled Christie Krieghauser, House Speaker Ray Merrick’s chief of staff.
“Sorry, I’m confused,” Krieghauser wrote. “What video and how is there a great quote from Hitler?” She said that based on her relationship with Mast she had a hard time believing the lawmaker intended to praise Hitler.
Mast’s perceived praise for the leader of the Third Reich, who ordered the slaughter of 6 million Jews, drew sharp criticism.
“There’s nothing profound, and there’s no room in American politics for the words or thought of Adolph Hitler,” said Rabbi Moti Rieber, executive director of Kansas Interfaith Action, a group that campaigns against racism and violence.
In one of her social media posts, Mast wrote: “To clarify the intent of my previous post: Planned Parenthood has learned well the same tactics and deception used by Hitler regarding innocent lives. … I was making a connection between the ideology he used and the arguments made by Planned Parenthood.”
Planned Parenthood operates two clinics in Kansas, including one in Wichita, that offer abortion services. It has repeatedly been the target of criticism by Republican leaders.
Laura McQuade, president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, the provider’s political organization, said in an e-mail that Planned Parenthood “is a trusted health care provider for thousands of Kansans and we reject and condemn Representative Peggy Mast’s offensive remarks.”