KNKX Public Radio announced Thursday it was axing its long-running weather segment with meteorologist Cliff Mass after the University of Washington professor wrote a post on his own blog comparing some Seattle protesters to the early Nazi militia known as the Brownshirts.
Mass wrote that “Seattle has had it(s) Kristallnacht and the photos of what occurred during the past weeks are eerily similar to those of 80 years ago.”
Kristallnacht was a pogrom carried out by the Nazis in 1938 that is widely seen as a precursor to the Holocaust, a turning point in Germany when social, political and economic persecution of Jewish people turned physical.
“We abhor the comparison and find it sensationalized and misleading — it does not reflect who we are and what we stand for at KNKX,” the radio station wrote on its website.
Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the UW, said Friday morning that he was “stunned by the reaction. It exploded in a way I was stunned by.”
He said Friday morning, and wrote in a comment on his blog post Thursday night, that he wasn’t referring broadly to all protesters, just referring to people who destroyed property. “I compared those DOING VIOLENCE to Brownshirts,” he wrote in an email to The Seattle Times.
Mass, who is Jewish, said he wrote his blog post after being “deeply moved when I took a walk around the city.” He said the shattered windows and empty, boarded-up businesses he saw reminded him of the infamous November night when Nazi paramilitary officers and rioters destroyed hundreds of synagogues and broke windows and looted more than 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses.
He said Friday he believes Seattle needs strong leadership and not police defunding.
He also said, had he not used the words “Kristallnacht” and “Brownshirts,” he suspects the reaction would have been different.
By Friday morning, he had removed the words from his post, writing: “(Note: I have removed a section here that proved a source of distraction to some. In the removed section, I referred to violence in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe and how many people, often out of fear, chose not to challenge terrible things happening. I suggest an analogy, in some aspects, on what is happening today in Seattle).”
In its announcement, KNKX said the station turns to its regular commentators “for their expertise and points-of-view when it comes to sports, food and the weather. But if a commentator, even on his own independent platform, delivers rhetoric that is offensive and inaccurate, we cannot support it.”
Mass said he thinks KNKX canceled his segment out of fear: “They got hit by social media and they panicked.”
It’s not the first time Mass’s words have cost him a segment on local public radio. In 2011, KUOW discontinued his weekly weather segment because he kept veering off the topic of weather and into commentary and opinion.