After facing backlash for selling merchandise that many have described as anti-Semitic, a hat shop in Nashville
apologized for "insensitivity" on Saturday.
hatWRKS issued an apology
on its Instagram
page Saturday night, following a protest
outside the store earlier in the day over the store's decision to sell Star of David patches with the words "NOT VACCINATED."
During the Holocaust
forced Jews in Europe to wear Star of David patches to publicly identify themselves as a form of persecution.
“in NO WAY did I intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people
,” hatWRKS said in a statement on Saturday, adding, “that is not who I am & what I stand for.... I sincerely apologize for any insensitivity.”
pic.twitter.com/0zqQA36kwh — Benjamin Dreyer (@BCDreyer) May 30, 2021
The controversy over the patches began on Thursday, when the shop posted a photo of store owner Gigi Gaskins wearing one of them on Instagram.
“patches are here!!” read the caption on the photo, which has since been removed, and “they turned out great. $5ea... we’ll be offering trucker caps soon.”
On Saturday, dozens of members of the community demonstrated outside the shop, some holding signs that read "No Nazis in Nashville" and "Sell Hats Not Hate."
On Saturday, Western apparel maker Stetson announced that it would no longer sell its products to hatWRKS, and Goorin Bros., a hat company that sells to hatWRKS, said it was “horrified” by the patches and was “looking at all options to fix and address this unfortunate circumstance.”
Screenshot of a now-deleted post from hatWRKS Nashville. The store owner (pictured) refused to speak with us and told us to leave her property. We're talking to synagogue leaders tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX17 News
. pic.twitter.com/Di79WwB9mq — Rachel Tiede (@RMTiede) May 28, 2021
Gaskins initially responded to the harsh criticism she received in response to the patches by posting statements on Instagram defending the merchandise and comparing the US government's push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19 to "fascism
“You cannot enter private businesses unless you show your papers,” the store wrote in an Instagram post Saturday, appearing to criticize the potential development and implementation of vaccine passports for Americans traveling abroad. There have been few if any reports of private businesses and other entities requiring patrons to show their COVID-19 vaccine
cards for entry.
“at the very least, all unvaccinated people will be separated from society, marked, and required to wear a mask,” the store wrote, adding, “what comes next?... there is a historical parallel to fascism to be drawn. we can only fight back to avoid reliving history.”
According to public health
experts, widespread vaccinations
provide the best protection against COVID-19 and the best chance of returning to normalcy.
Gaskins appeared to lash out at the negative comments she's received about the patches on Sunday, after issuing an apology on Saturday.
“I was willing to put my business on the line to stand up for the freedoms that we still have in our country,” a post on the store’s Instagram page stated on Sunday, “what I didn’t expect was to be accused of the very thing I was fighting against.”
“Was the use of a yellow star insensitive?” the post went on, “obviously so to many, but does it make me an anti-semite nazi? NO, NO IT DOESN’T.”
The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Friday that it was “absolutely disgusted” by the anti-Semitic “hatred” of hatWRKS.
“This level of disrespect to the memory of 6 million murdered Jews is horrifying,” the organization wrote on Twitter.
The uproar stemmed from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
's (R-GA) tweet on Tuesday, which compared mask-wearing and vaccines
to Holocaust treatment. Top Republicans
, including House
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
, condemned Greene's shocking comparison.
“Marjorie is wrong, and her deliberate choice to compare the horrors of the Holocaust to wearing masks
is appalling,” McCarthy said in a statement. “The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history, and the fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling.”