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A hat store in Nashville, Tennessee, is facing backlash after its owner posted a photo to Instagram showing herself wearing a yellow patch of the Star of David with the words "Not Vaccinated."
The since-deleted post shared by HatWRKS owner Gigi Gaskins was denounced for referencing the yellow symbol Jews were forced to wear on their clothing to identify themselves under the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. A photo caption advertised the patches for $5 apiece.
The hashtag #HateWorks was quickly trending in response, WKRN reported, and a small group of protesters arrived outside the store and were seen with signs, including one message that read: "No Nazis in Nashville." Another sign said: "The Holocaust is not a marketing op."
Hat maker Stetson USA announced it was pulling its products from the store.
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"Along with our distribution partners, Stetson condemns antisemitism and discrimination of any kind," John B. Stetson tweeted.
Hat maker Goorin Bros. of San Francisco said on Instagram that it was "horrified" by the patch.
"To make a mockery of the Holocaust in any form is unacceptable and completely insensitive," president Ben Goorin said. "We are looking at all options to fix and address this unfortunate circumstance."
Ivo H. Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013, denounced the photo on Twitter.
"As a young school girl in Holland, my mother was forced to wear a yellow star by the Nazis to identify her as a Jew," Daalder wrote. "It’s beyond grotesque to sell this evil symbol to proclaim one’s not vaccinated. Where does this end?"
Gaskins initially defended the sales of the badges, writing "people are so outraged by my post? But are you outraged by the tyranny the world is experiencing?"
"I pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence & compliance," the message shared by @hatwrksnashville said. "That is the worse crime." Another post voiced concern that people would not be allowed to return to school or enter government building "unless you show your papers" and that "all unvaccinated people will be segregated from society."
Gaskins later deleted the photo and issued an apology Saturday.
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"In NO WAY did I intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people. That is not who I am & what I stand for," Gaskins wrote. "My intent was not to exploit or make a profit. My hope was to share my genuine concern & fear, and to do all that I can to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again. I sincerely apologize for any insensitivity."
Last week, conservative podcast host Ben Shapiro, who is Jewish, slammed U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., for referring to the Holocaust when criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for continuing to require all members to wear a mask while on the House floor.
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"You know, we can look back at a time in history when people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about," Greene said. She later defended her remarks about masks, saying she was not referencing the Holocaust, but instead, "discrimination against Jews in early Nazi years."
Shapiro called Greene’s remarks "bizarrely nutso" before questioning why the media hasn’t focused as much on "the Squad's de facto support for genocidal anti-Jewish terrorist group Hamas," The Hill reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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