State agriculture secretary describes Capitol as a 'Holocaust' - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

State agriculture secretary describes Capitol as a 'Holocaust'

Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Ben Brancel Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Ben Brancel

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection referred to the protests at the Capitol as a "holocaust in a horror story."

It happened at the Monona Terrace Wednesday during an event for Ag Day.

The focus of Ag Day is supposed to be on state issues affecting agriculture, but it's hard to talk about state issues Wednesday without talking about Governor Scott Walker's repair bill and what has been happening at the Capitol over the last few weeks.

As the crowd waited for Governor Walker to arrive, Brancel was called up to the podium.

The Agriculture Secretary spoke about first-time legislators coming to the Capitol.

"They came to town with a lot of ideas and a lot of concepts they could really work on and then they got stuck in the middle of a holocaust in a horror story that was going on in town... as far as people using the building all night long and some shenanigans," Brancel said.

After he left the podium, we asked him about his use of the word, "holocaust."

"That was a bad word," he said. "It should have been total confusion in the Capitol. It was not an appropriate word to use in the context of which I used it, and I better go back to English school."

Experts on the holocaust agree.

"To apply it to people who are protesting peacefully as part of their democratic rights is really a mistake," said Simone Schweber, Goodman Assistant Professor of Education and Jewish Studies.

She recognized Brancel was probably trying to comment on the confusion but the word holds much more meaning.

"Especially in times of political unrest invocations of the Holocaust are inflammatory," Schweber said. "They are intended to make people feel something strongly."

After correcting himself, Brancel stood by his statement that the activity at the Capitol is a horror story.

"It is a horror story in the sense that there is not an orderly process of debate to resolve the issues," he said.

He says the protests are not adding anything to the formal legislative debate.

Brancel served in the Wisconsin Assembly himself from 1986 to 1997.

Walker appointed Brancel as secretary, and he started with the governor in January.

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