Things It Is Okay To Compare To The Holocaust (If You Are Not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)
For the past week or so, Republicans everywhere have been righteously outraged over the fact that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to America's lovely child detention centers as "concentration camps." This, they said, was very disrespectful to victims of the real Holocaust, on account of how "Never Again" actually means "Never bring it up again and certainly don't say anything when it appears to be happening again." Oh, how they cannot believe anyone would be so gauche.
Steve King, who still doesn't know what's wrong with being a white nationalist or a white supremacist and has been very fond of retweeting actual Nazis and endorsing Faith Goldy, was personally very disturbed by AOC's comments and suggested that she take an eye-opening tour of Auschwitz, like he did:
.@AOC I went to Auschwitz & Birkenau with Eddie Mausberg & Jonny Daniels with In the Depths. I went with a deep understanding of the Shoah and had a profound personal experience. Please accept their offer. https://t.co/9tjqgdP6N5
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) June 23, 2019
It should not surprise you to know that King spent a large chunk of that trip palling around with a far-right group founded by a former SS officer. A profound personal experience indeed!
Mike Huckabee also called AOC's comments "misinformed." You know, because all our government is doing is rounding up families, pulling tiny children from their parents' arms, putting them in detention camps, depriving them of toothbrushes, blankets and soap, and relying on seven- and eight-year-olds to take care of the infants and toddlers. These are all very normal things that, surely, they would have no problem seeing their own children put through. How could anyone call that a "concentration camp"!
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is still getting flak for her misinformed comparison of US detention centers for illegal entrants to Nazi concentration camps (and to all the hair-splitters trying to defend her, her invocation of the phrase "never again" in her original post made it clear that she was indeed making reference to the Holocaust). But she's doubling down and insisting it's her critics who should apologize.
Todd "Stillwell Angel" Starnes was also very concerned about this disrespectful statement, suggesting that it might betray some kind of heretofore well-guarded anti-Semitism on AOC's part.
Here's Starnes on @AOC calling migrant detention centers "concentration camps": "Anybody over in the Democrat Party...a little concerned, just a smidge, that they've got some antisemites in their midst?" pic.twitter.com/K1nM8kkfRC
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) June 25, 2019
Perhaps you are a very generous person and may just assume that these individuals just take the Holocaust very seriously and think comparing anything to it is reprehensible. (This is the US Holocaust Museum's position on the matter this week, and we -- along with, apparently, "a Museum historian in a personal capacity" for whom the museum was apologizing, respectfully disagree.)
Surely, these individuals would never do that exact thing themselves.
Alas, as Jason Campbell of Media Matters points out, Todd Starnes has been known to make some Holocaust-related comments of his own, namely about abortion.
Fox's Todd Starnes invokes "Holocaust" and "genocide" while referring to abortion pic.twitter.com/IJF6gCqB5b
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) June 25, 2019
And Mike Huckabee? Well, here is a video of him explaining that abortion is actually worse than the Holocaust (with some "gay people getting married will be THE END OF THE WORLD!" thrown in for good measure).
RWW News: Huckabee: Abortion Rights & Gay Marriage Doom America, Legal Abortion Worse Than Holocaust youtu.be
Transcript Via Right Wing Watch:
If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our own country in the wombs of their mothers? Does that not speak to us? And the foundation of our society and culture, marriage, not only by which we produce the next generation but it is the entity through which God has chosen for us to create the next generation and train them to be our replacements, and when we tinker with its definition and we decide that it can mean anything we wish for it to mean and that rather than to take a biblical perspective we will take a very human one and we will base marriage on human experience and desire as opposed to biblical standard, then I fear that we will pay the consequences for having upended the very foundation which is the essence of how a civilization survives. So the soul of America is in real trouble.
This is far from the only time Huckabee has made that particular comparison. In 2007 he claimed that we had immigrants coming into our country in order to make up for a labor shortage caused by a "holocaust of liberalized abortion."
Sometimes we talk about why we're importing so many people in our workforce. It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973.
Nor are Starnes and Huckabee the only Republicans to make that comparison. In fact, back in May, the Alabama Senate passed a bill outlawing abortion (including rape and incest exceptions) in which they compared legal abortion to the Holocaust and various other mass tragedies:
"It is estimated that 6,000,000 Jewish people were murdered in German concentration camps during World War II; 3,000,000 people were executed by Joseph Stalin's regime in Soviet gulags; 2,500,000 people were murdered during the Chinese "Great Leap Forward" in 1958; 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the 1970s; and approximately 1,000,000 people were murdered during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. All of these are widely acknowledged to have been crimes against humanity. By comparison, more than 50 million babies have been aborted in the United States since the Roe decision in 1973, more than three times the number who were killed in German death camps, Chinese purges, Stalin's gulags, Cambodian killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined."
You are now probably wondering if any Republicans have compared gay marriage to the Holocaust. They sure have! Alleged kiddie diddler and current Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore did just that back when he was running for Senate the last time.
"We're going through something in our country that other countries have gone through," Moore said in a 2015 speech. "Germany went through it when the state took all power." He then went on to quote Martin Niemöller's famous poem "First they came…," which addresses the silence of the German public in the face of the Holocaust.
Moore's interpreted the poem to be about those who refused to fall in line with legislation preventing discrimination of same-sex couples. "They came for the bakers, but I didn't bake cakes. They came for the florists, but I didn't deal flowers. They came for a little clerk down in Kentucky by the name Kim Davis, but hey, I'm not a clerk. Then they came for me, and nobody was left."
And yes, he did it on more than one occasion.
Have they compared Obamacare to the Holocaust? Sure have! In 2013, state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll of Idaho stated:
"The insurance companies are creating their own tombs. Much like the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps, private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange. Based on legislation and the general process that is written toward this legislation, the federal government will want nothing to do with private insurance companies. The feds will have a national system of health insurance and they will eliminate the insurance companies.
Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield wrote:
"Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of manditory sign ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s."
And Ted Cruz favorably compared his fight against Obamacare to people not having the courage to stand up to the Nazis:
"If we go to the 1940s, Nazi Germany—look, we saw it in Britain. Neville Chamberlain told the British people: Accept the Nazis. Yes, they will dominate the continent of Europe, but that is not our problem. Let's appease them. Why? Because it can't be done. We cannot possibly stand against them."
I could go on with that one ... a whole lot of people spent a whole lot of time insisting that providing people with healthcare was definitely the same thing as murdering six million Jews. But what about ... federal student loans. Are they the Holocaust? Yes, according to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) back in 2012.
Not that it's not a good idea to give students loans, it certainly is a good idea to give them loans. But if you can ignore the Constitution to do something good today, tomorrow you will be ignoring the Constitution to do something bad. You could. There are more people in our, in America today of German ancestry than any other [inaudible]. The Holocaust that occurred in Germany — how in the heck could that happen? And when you start down the wrong road, it can be a very slippery slope.
So by this logic, it is just fine for people to reference the Holocaust or mass genocide when referring to abortion, gay marriage, Obamacare or federal student loans ... but to refer to detention facilities where we are separating children from their families and keeping them in miserable, dirty conditions, as "concentration camps" (which they absolutely are) is just beyond the pale. Would it help to remind them that those children were once the fetuses they so love and adore? Maybe if we referred to them as eight-year-old fetuses, they'd see where things were kind of going wrong here. Or if we tried to give them health care or help them pay for college? I must admit, I am not clear on how this logic works!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse