Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was recently castigated by the usual suspects after she likened U.S. southern border political asylee detention centers as “concentration camps.” AOC refused to back down from her description of the camps, which are even housing children separated from their parents in sub-human conditions. On June 8, AOC tweeted: “This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”
The dictionary definition of a concentration camps is “a camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group the government has identified as dangerous or undesirable.” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts described the Japanese-American internment camps established by the federal government during World War II.
New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who is running for president and whose political donor support is courtesy of his knee-jerk support for Israel, was one of the first to weigh in on AOC’s use of the term concentration camp to describe what are, in fact, camps that concentrate a particular class of people in well-guarded sub-human detention centers. DeBlasio said, “You cannot compare what the Nazis did in concentration camps. Unfortunately . . . it’s a horrible moment in history. There’s no way to compare.”
AOC replied to critics like DeBlasio, tweeting, “So what do you call it? What term makes you feel better about brutality? ‘Internment?’ ‘Detention?’ ‘Freedom Center?’” Concentration camps have been applied to the “reservations” that Native Americans were forced into after the signing by President Andrew Jackson — Donald Trump’s favorite president, other than himself — of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Native tribes, including the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole peoples, were re-located from east of the Mississippi to the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. Today, the Mayan and other Central American Native cousins of those subjected to Jackson’s “Trail of Tears” are languishing in camps, thanks to the policies of another racist president.
Many historians correctly pointed out that concentration camps existed prior to Nazi Germany. They were used by Britain to intern Afrikaners during South Africa’s Boer War, by Spain to detain Cuban revolutionaries, and the United States to imprison insurgents in the Philippines.
Criticism of AOC by all the usual suspects are similar to their bellyaching in 2010, when British Prime Minister David Cameron was lambasted by the same quarters for referring to the Gaza Strip as an “open-air prison.” Because Cameron’s description of Gaza evoked memories of the Warsaw Ghetto, where the Nazis confined Polish Jews to an open-air prison, Zionists pointed out that Cameron led a nation that was the first to expel Jews in 1290, as if that was at all relevant to the plight of the Palestinians in 2010.
Some Jewish leaders similarly criticized AOC for the use of the term concentration camp to describe the squalid camps on the southern border, where children are even denied toothbrushes, soap, and proper bedding. At a Border Patrol facility near El Paso, human rights activists discovered a lack of food, water, and sanitation for 250 detained infants, children and teens. Reports from other detention facilities are rife with incidents of physical and sexual abuse of children and teens, untreated illnesses, and the outbreak of lice.
The Nazi concentration camps did not immediately become death camps. AOC’s critics are conflating concentration camps with death camps like Auschwitz, Dachau, and Treblinka. Concentration camps only began the systematic murder of detainees after the Wannsee Conference of 1942, where the Nazi leaders adopted extermination of Jews as their “final solution.”
The Salt Lake Tribune, which endorsed George W. Bush for president over John Kerry in 2004, has come to AOC’s defense over her use of the term “concentration camps. In a June 22 editorial, the newspaper, whose large Mormon readership in reflective of their percentage of Utah’s population, wrote:
“Yes, we do have concentration camps. They are not work camps. They are not death camps. At least, not on purpose. Our government is not building massive gas chambers and industrial crematoria. It is not conducting sick medical experiments on members of an unfavored class. But that does not mean that the places into which we are herding tens of thousands of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are not properly called concentration camps. Because that is precisely what they are. When some in the public eye dare to tell that truth, as the media-savvy Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did the other day, enablers of the administration’s cruel policies cry foul. They say that using correct terms such as ‘concentration camps’—or, worse, invoking the term ‘Never again’—unfairly equates what is going on now at our southern border with the Nazis’ ‘Final Solution’—the deliberate murder of millions of people.
“It is true that we are not doing that. We are doing this. The two are not morally equivalent. And we probably don’t have reason to fear that this is necessarily going to become that.
“But, then, we never do.
“Because that starts as this. Some of the people who study, and some of the people who survived or are descended from survivors of the Holocaust, are pointing out that that crime against humanity did not arrive overnight.
“It worked its way up, from nasty political speeches (check) to politicians seeking and gaining power with promises to protect the purity of the nation from foreign invasion (check) to denying basic human rights and decency to people of an unfavored class (check).
“The places where these tempest-tossed humans are being held are kept deliberately uncomfortable and largely out of view of the public, the press, members of Congress and even the courts. The whole point is to keep them beyond the reach of the rights and protections that, by our Constitution and international treaties, are afforded to all persons, not just citizens.
“The people being held there are cold, hungry, dirty and often sick. Children are separated from parents. Children are caring for children. Medical care is not to be found. A few—not millions, but a few—have died.”
Jewish critics of AOC’s statements are hypocritical in that they refuse to condemn the U.S. detention policies and camps, which are largely the brainchild of Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who is Jewish. Although some members of Miller’s family and Jewish congregation in Santa Monica, California, have condemned Miller, such criticism has not been matched by official condemnation from leaders of major Jewish political pressure groups like the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Zionist Organization of America, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and others. Limited hangout propagandists like HBO’s Bill Maher joined in the condemnation of AOC’s remarks, but have said little about Miller and his supporters. Perhaps that is because members of Miller’s congregation are friendly with some of those connected with Maher’s “Real Time” program produced in Television City, not far from Santa Monica.
Miller still has his supporters in Santa Monica as shown by the treatment meted out last October to 73-year old Nikki Fiske, an elementary school teacher for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Fiske, Miller’s third grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School, was taken out of the classroom and put on “home assignment” after she described one of Miller’s habits in class. Fiske said of Miller’s penchant for ingesting glue that he “would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.”
There were Jewish collaborators of the Nazis in the concentration camps. They were called “kapos.” Today, this same ilk is found in the White House and throughout the Trump administration, where they either craft U.S. concentration camp policy or remain silent about it. Their names are Miller, Kushner, Mnuchin, Greenblatt, Berkowitz, Friedman, and Rosen.
Under Miller’s direction, 50,000 asylum-seekers are being detained in more than 200 detention centers around the United States, including privately-run facilities and county jails. But rather than condemn a glue-sniffing demented Nazi policy-aficionado like Miller, AOC is being lambasted by self-servers for speaking the truth. To the major Jewish organization leaders who criticize AOC while giving Miller a pass, the only response is one that these self-appointed pantaloons often and rightfully direct toward Holocaust deniers, “Eternal shame on them!”
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).