Pulitzer prize winner Jerry Saltz has sparked backlash online after he suggested that Republicanism should be dealt with like the deadly Covid-19. Facing outrage, the columnist explained that he meant ideology, not its adherents.

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“Republicanism is no longer a political problem; Republicanism is a social problem. It must be treated in the same way coronavirus is treated: it has to be isolated and snuffed-out by repressing it in about 70% of the general population,” Saltz, senior art critic and columnist for New York magazine and the Pulitzer Prize recipient, tweeted on Saturday.

For the colourful analogy it may be, it did not go down well with many commentators, pointing out that the rallying cry sounded “a bit gulag-y” and something a Nazi propagandist could have uttered.

“You gonna kill some people, Jerry? Sounds like you are,” a commenter wrote.

Conservative pundit Mark Cernovich did not mince words, accusing Saltz of “sounding like Hitler.”

“This is the most un-American tweet I think I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s a joke or an exaggeration to prove a point? Please tell me this isn’t really what it appears to be …” author and entrepreneur Josh Dolin tweeted.

Some forty minutes after posting his original tweet, Saltz attempted to clarify, saying he “obviously” meant that it’s the ideology that needs to be repressed, and not its followers.

The explanation, however, did little to placate the detractors, since the can of worms had already been opened.

Some argued that it’s impossible to separate Republicans from Republicanism.

“You mean just like Judaism? Is it possible to treat an “ism” without snuffing out or repressing those that represent or believe in it?” one said.

Others alleged that with his Salz went into damage control mode only “after getting righteously and continuously reamed for 40 minutes.”

“If it were obvious, it wouldn’t require clarification,” a commenter charged.

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