An image posted on Donald Trump’s social media network Truth Social by Rockford’s school board candidate Craig Ladyman shows Pride flags distorted into swastikas, Grand Rapids-area Fox station WXMI reports.
Above the post, Ladyman asks, “Like my new Pride flag?”
Ladyman told the station he got the image from a posting from Far-right British actor Laurence Fox who had shared it earlier this year around Pride Month.
The posting was recently sent to Superintendent Steven Matthews by concerned parents and voters, Matthews told WXMI. He said that it angered him to see a symbol with such a toxic history used and that that iconography does not represent the community.
“It makes me feel angry. Certainly, a symbol like that represents the and represents divisiveness,” said Matthews. “It’s a symbol that I don’t think represents who we are as a community and anybody who would use it.”
He went on to say that school board elections are important.
“We certainly want to create a district where everybody feels like they belong, that everybody feels like they have advocates and allies in our district, and symbols like that don’t promote that,” he said.
Ladyman did not grant WXMI an on-camera interview, but he sent the station a written statement, claiming to “rebuke” the “Nazi-like techniques” of gender and sexual orientation inclusive and affirming educators and institutions.
“This is child abuse, and parents didn’t vote for this! The resulting mob attacks on me as a conservative, parent’s rights, and children’s rights advocate for school board confirm the fact that if you don’t bow to the flag they will come after you and your livelihood,” he wrote.
Local rabbi David Krishef said Ladyman's comments are an insult to the memory of those lost at the hands of the Nazi regime.
“It cheapens the Holocaust, it cheapens the suffering,” Krishef told WXMI. Krishef has led the Ahavas Israel congregation in Grand Rapids for almost 30 years. “It’s a misuse of the imagery, it’s a misuse of the language.”
Out of the more than 11 million people who were murdered in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators, an estimated 6 million were Jewish people. The Holocaust also saw thousands of LGBTQ+ people killed or imprisoned for being queer.