Today’s Outrage: Ocasio-Cortez Labels ICE Detention Centers “Concentration Camps”
[guest post by Dana]
I guess it all depends on your definition of “concentration camps”and whether usage of the phrase “Never again” has a soberingly significant meaning:
“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity that ‘Never Again’ means something,” Ocasio-Cortez continued, referencing the slogan adopted after the Holocaust. “The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it.”
“This is a crisis on if American will remain America … Or if we are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to President Trump. “I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is.”
The blowback to Ocasio-Cortez’s claim was swift:
”Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust,” wrote Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming on Twitter. “You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin called for Ocasio-Cortez to “stop trying to draw these crayon parallels between POTUS & Hitler!”
“Try working WITH your colleagues on BOTH sides of the aisle to secure our border & fix this rather than desperately trying to promote mass hysteria w this disgusting & woefully false comparison,” the Long Island Republican said on Twitter.
Ocasio-Cortez shot back at Cheney:
”Hey Rep. Cheney, since you’re so eager to ‘educate me,’ I’m curious: What do YOU call building mass camps of people being detained without a trial?” the first-term lawmaker said. “How would you dress up DHS’s mass separation of thousands children at the border from their parents?”
Today, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to University of Virginia lecturer, Waitman Wade Beorn, to justify her use of “concentration camps”:
“Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz. Concentration camps in general have always been designed – at the most basic level – to separate one group of people from another group,” the report quoted Waitman Wade Beorn as saying. “Usually, because the majority group, or the creators of the camp, deem the people they’re putting in it to be dangerous or undesirable in some way.”
The Trump administration doesn’t call then concentration camps for the same reasons the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations didn’t — they’re not concentration camps. With thousands of people flooding across the border, the US and Mexico both have to set up facilities to house them while their status gets adjudicated. Their presence in those facilities are necessarily temporary and ends when their cases are finally decided, at which point they’re either admitted or sent out of the country.
The term “concentration camps” is more accurately used for facilities meant for ethnic-cleansing purposes rather than control of immigrants and refugees. This is not a situation in which citizens and residents of a country are being relocated en masse into detention facilities, as happened to the Japanese by FDR in World War II, where the term applies even with its historical baggage. It’s certainly not the situation created by actual fascists in the 1930s and 1940s to isolate, enslave, and then exterminate ethnic minorities within their own citizen populations, intended as a permanent policy. That ethnic cleansing from an existing population is precisely what the term “concentration” connotes, in fact. Regardless of whether a handful of historians use the term to engage in histrionics, the two situations aren’t equal, analogous, or even exist in any connectable context.
Anyway, I’m just glad to see that next week, our elected officials will have an opportunity to actually help ease the suffering in our “concentration camps”:
Trump administration officials have repeatedly urged Congress to provide more funding for the provision of shelter and medical care to the migrants, but the requests have gone largely unanswered due to partisan infighting over how much will be spent on enforcement verses humanitarian aid.
Majority leader Mitch McConnell announced Monday that he plans to hold a vote next week on legislation that would provide $4.5 billion in additional funding to address the situation at the border.
“I’m going to bring it up freestanding next week and see if they really aren’t interested in dealing with this mass of humanity that we have to take care of at the border,” McConnell said in an interview with Fox News. “What’s the objection? This is not about the wall but about the humanitarian crisis.”
Of course, there is no level of care or accommodation for detainees that would make the practice of detention acceptable to Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)