Then-state Rep. Cris Dush, R-Brookville, Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, Indiana, Pa., April 14, 2019. Photo by David Loomis.
Sedition watch: a profile
By David Loomis
INDIANA – During a May 4, 2020, legislative committee hearing, Republican state Rep. Cris Dush, representing northern Indiana County, griped about what he saw as Gov. Tom Wolf’s lack of transparency with public-health data on the pandemic and with lockdown waivers for businesses. The governor, Dush said, was hampering the essential work of a free and unfettered press.
“The press has been having a very difficult time fulfilling its responsibility to the public getting information out because this governor has repeatedly refused all sorts of information,” Dush declared.
But that’s not what grabbed national headlines. It was Mr. Dush’s remark linking the governor to Nazis.
“More and more I go back to the Democratic National Socialist Party, the Nazi Party, I go to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR,” Dush said. “This is a socialist playbook.”
Newsweek magazine reported the remark and the instant reaction.
“Outrageous,” said Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Philadelphia.
Dush defended his remark and resumed his posture as tribune of a free press and an informed public.
“When you start hiding stuff from the public, when you start hiding things from the press, and not allowing it to come out, there is a genuine reason for concern,” Dush added. “Like I said, it’s a socialist playbook. It’s important for the people of this state to start having access to information, rather than having it set aside and hidden for an agenda.”
Rep. Boyle condemned Dush’s remarks about Nazis.
“I’ve been in the legislature, this is my 10th year, and this is the first reference to Nazism that I have heard in committee or on the House floor,” Boyle said. “The contrast between the approach of the Wolf administration and the Nazi party could not be clearer. The Wolf administration has been enacting policies to protect human life. The Nazi party was responsible for the murder of at least six million Jews. Furthermore, I am highly disappointed that no Republican members immediately chimed in to condemn Dush’s comments.”
Dush apologized later.
But Rep. Dan Frankel, who represents Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the Tree of Life synagogue shooting was painfully fresh in memory, said Mr. Dush’s apology fell short.
“I appreciate that Rep. Dush acknowledged his mistake,” Frankel said. “But no amount of backpedaling changes the fact that there are very active and dangerous anti-Semitic groups out there that read his comments as encouragement.”