January 17, 2020

Wiesenthal Center Calls on AOC’s Chief of Staff to Apologize for Wearing Nazi Collaborator Shirt

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) questions Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on "Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy" in Washington, U.S. July 10, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper called on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) chief of staff to apologize for wearing a t-shirt of a Nazi collaborator in a December video.

According to Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, wore a t-shirt in a NowThis video with the face of Subhas Chandra Bose on it. Newsweek describes Bose as “an Indian nationalist leader who worked with the Nazis and the Japanese Empire to rid the subcontinent of the British during World War Two.” Bose also spread Nazi propaganda via radio broadcast as well as “enlisted tens of thousands of Indian men to support the Japanese invasion of British India in 1944 and help fight the British in Europe for Hitler,” per JTA.

Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that while Bose may be considered “a folk hero” to some in India, it’s still inappropriate to wear such a shirt.

“Running around with a t-shirt of a person who not only sat with Adolf Hitler, but who worked to keep World War II going – aiding and abetting both the Nazis and Imperial Japan – that’s not something I would be particularly proud of,” Cooper said.

Because of this, Cooper said that Chakrabarti needs to apologize, and if he doesn’t then he needs to be fired.

“What statement would his office be putting out if another chief of staff, other chiefs of staff would have t-shirts of neo-Nazi leaders of people whose movements hate people of color? What would the reaction be?” Cooper said. “Across-the-board condemnation. This might be a time where it’s appropriate for a person to look in the mirror.”

Chakrabarti and Ocasio-Cortez’s office have not responded to the Journal’s request. Newsweek’s report notes that Chakrabarti would not provide them with an on-the-record comment on the matter.