It's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Vs. Liz Cheney. Topic: Concentration Camps. 2019 Is TERRIBLE.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denounced Donald Trump and his administration's kiddie jails yesterday. She went so far as to call them "concentration camps." Her critics believe this is the worst thing someone could do. We guess the second worst thing would be actually running concentration camps, which the Trump administration is. The ghouls are literally holding migrant children in an Army base that was once used to wrongly imprison Japanese-Americans during World War II. The base should be a museum now not a revival house for the Stephen Miller Horror Show.
The conditions of these detention facilities are
appalling. Republicans can't defend them, so they are fixated on semantics. It's offensive somehow to call our baby jails "concentration camps." It's disrespectful to everyone who suffered and died during the Holocaust. And Republicans have nothing but the "greatest respect for the intelligence and integrity of the Jewish people."
The third lousiest House Republican, Liz Cheney, with her advanced degree in comparative evil, tried to school Ocasio-Cortez on the Holocaust.
You wouldn't need the phrase "Never Again" if the standard for alarm was that everything has to occur just as it did in Nazi Germany -- same death count, same fascist attire, same maniac in a funny mustache. "Relax! It's not 1942!" is hardly comforting when we're locking up children.
We thought Cheney was simply evil, but it seems she's also misinformed. Concentration camps in Germany were originally where "undesirables" were "concentrated" in one place. Stage one is already happening here. And Trump has gone to great efforts to depersonalize and scapegoat immigrants as "undesirables." Nazis didn't go around shouting, "We're evil! Bwah-ha-ha." They argued they were themselves the victims of the "undesirables." If these comparisons make you uncomfortable, you shouldn't attack the people making the comparisons. It should worry you that they fit so well.
This is why actual malice and intent is important. Trump has demonstrated a seething contempt for immigrants that should concern sensible people who aren't too busy crying over racists who don't get into Harvard. Trump lies about asylum seekers and insists every refugee is a violent criminal. Worse, his supporters believe him. He stoked fear and resentment of migrants before the midterms, and it'll only get worse during his re-election campaign. We really don't know if Trump genuinely hates immigrants or is just an opportunist who wants to scare his base to the polls with a manufactured crisis. Neither option is a good one for the growing number of migrant children in US custody.
How not good is it? Well, so far children's deaths look like the result of general incompetence and cruel negligence and not a system for purposely executing "undesirables." Auschwitz didn't start out as a death camp either. If you think such atrocities can't happen here, you possess an arrogance that only leaves corpses in its wake.
Concentration camps have existed prior to Nazi Germany. They've spanned the globe, including the United States. President Martin Van Buren imprisoned thousands of Cherokee in "emigration depots" in Alabama and Tennessee. Many died from the terrible conditions. Almost half the Navajo condemned to the "Long Walk" of 1862 died while imprisoned in the New Mexico Territory. Recently freed blacks during the Civil War were "corralled" into forced labor camps. The worst was -- no surprise -- in Mississippi. It was called the Devil's Punchbowl and was tragically not a nightclub. Thousands died. Then there's the unforgivable internment of citizens whose only "crime" was resembling America's enemies during World War II. These atrocities all occurred under the watch of presidents you'd trust alone with the family silverware. When human garbage like Trump is president, we shouldn't fear hyperbole.
Godwin's Law has spoken.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.