Sean Spicer's most recent comments on the Holocaust are alarming for 2 reasons.

In trying to explain the brutality of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer screwed up bigly.

Just how bad is Assad? Spicer went straight to the internet's most overused (albeit somewhat apt, in this case) comparison: "You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons" like Assad did.

People quickly reacted with variations of "WTF are you doing, Spicey?" — not just over the fact that Spicer not only invoked one of history's greatest villains, but because he actually downplayed just how horrible Hitler was.


Spicer only made things worse when he attempted to clarify his comments: "[Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing."

There are two big, horrifying implications of what Spicer said that need to be addressed:

1. Yes, Hitler used chemical weapons. That's just a fact.

While Spicer spoke, MSNBC fact-checked him on the screen. "White House: Hitler didn't 'sink to level of using chemical weapons' like Syrian leader (Hitler gassed millions)." And honestly, anytime you get owned that hard by a cable news graphic-maker, you're probably having a pretty bad day.

At the peak of the Holocaust, as many as 6,000 Jews at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp were killed by cyanide-based pesticide Zyklon B every day. To say Hitler didn't "sink to the level of using chemical weapons" is reckless and ahistorical.

2. In arguing that Hitler didn't use chemical weapons on his "own people," Spicer implies that Hitler's "own people" were limited to his supporters, rather than all the citizens of Germany, the country he was in charge of.

At the beginning of World War II, more than 200,000 Jews lived in Germany. Many of them died as the result of Hitler's genocidal brutality. German Jews were Hitler's "own people," and it is really important that we acknowledge that. Hitler wasn't fighting some foreign threat. He was targeting his own citizens — people just trying to live in peace within their home borders — because of their religion, sexual orientation, or able-bodied-ness. Let's not downplay that.

An Auschwitz survivor displays his number tattoo. Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images.

Like Hitler, Assad is using chemical weapons. Like Hitler, Assad is targeting his own people.

Spicer's comparison isn't just inaccurate, it actively erases the true horrors of the Holocaust to justify Trump's military action against Assad, even as Trump refuses to open our borders to Assad's victims — refugees in need of aid.

It'd be one thing if this were the first time this White House made a mistake like this. But erasing basic facts about the Holocaust keeps happening, making it harder to give the Trump administration the benefit of the doubt.

In February, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect pilloried the White House for its weak response to threats made against Jewish community centers. At the inauguration, Trump aide Sebastian Gorka reportedly wore a medal from a Hungarian group with Nazi ties. In its statement commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House removed a reference to Jews. And while Spicer eventually clarified his statement a number of times, the damage seemed done.

"On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death," Steven Goldstein of the Anne Frank Center wrote on Facebook.

It's important that we get history right and that we don't misrepresent the past. It's the only way to avoid repeating those mistakes. Take note, Sean.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 05.30.15


Men struggle to comprehend the pressures women feel. The same is true of women!

Gah! We'll never get along.

This conversation between comedian Neal Brennan and Amy Poehler is a pretty good example of how hard it can be to figure life out sometimes.

Neal, the genius who co-created "Chappelle's Show," sat down with Amy for his show "The Approval Matrix." The topic? WHAT are men supposed to be now? Cool? Adorkable? Both? Neither?

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!