A Tennessee Republican who voted to cut down homeless encampments on Wednesday referenced the life story of Adolf Hitler in an attempt to demonstrate how people experiencing homeless can lead "a productive life."
The outlandish comment came during a state Senate debate this week when Republican state Sen. Frank Niceley threw his support behind a measure that would heighten penalties for unauthorized camping on state-owned property. To make his case, Niceley provided his colleagues with what he called a "little history lesson."
"In 1910, Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while," Niceley said. "So for two years Hitler lived on the streets and practiced his oratory and his body language and how to connect with the masses. And then went on to lead a life that got him in the history books."
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"So [for] a lot of these people, it's not a dead end," he prattled on. "They can come out of these homeless camps and have a productive life, or in Hitler's case a very unproductive life."
Hitler did go through a period of homelessness as a struggling artist in his early twenties, living out of a hostel in Vienna from 1910 to 1913. Later, the German dictator attempted to destroy all evidence of his time unhoused, calling it the "harshest and saddest" period of his life.
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The Tennessee bill, passed on a 22-10 vote, makes it a Class "C" misdemeanor to camp along highways and exit ramps. The first offense results in a fine, and any following offenses are punishable by a sentence of 20 to 40 hours of community service.
It isn't the first time that Niceley has made headlines, as Insider noted. Back in 2009, the Tennessee Republican signed a petition to compel then-President Obama to produce his birth certificate to prove he was not born in Kenya. And in 2018, Niceley claimed that carbon dioxide is "not a pollutant, it's just as natural as oxygen."
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