by Keaton Weiss
Let’s start with the basics. All Beagles are dogs, but not all dogs are Beagles. All roses are flowers, but not all flowers are roses. Got it? Good. Now let’s apply this same principle to the fake-AOC-outrage-du-jour. All death camps are concentration camps, but not all concentration camps are death camps. A concentration camp, by definition, according to the radical left-wing site dictionary.com, is a “guarded compound for the detention or imprisonment of aliens, members of ethnic minorities, political opponents, etc.” In fairness, the definition does go on to mention explicitly that the term is especially used to describe death camps established by the Nazis leading up to and during the second World War, but I’ll come back to that later.
My first point is the simple one. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right on the substance of her claim, which is that “the United States is running concentration camps on our southern border.” I really don’t need elaborate on this, since I just gave you the dictionary definition of a concentration camp, but in the interest of making more than a semantic point, I’ll mention that to date, 24 people have died in ICE detention centers during the Trump administration, as well as at least 6 children while being detained by other federal agencies. ICE’s own internal memos admit that many of these deaths were preventable. Sexual abuse allegations have been filed by the hundreds, totaling well over a thousand dating back to the Obama administration. And of course we’ve all heard the stories of family separation, hastily erected cages for migrants and asylum seekers to sleep in, etc.
AOC’s bad faith critics, mostly impotent old men who for some strange reason seem determined to convince the world of her stupidity while avidly supporting a president with the intellectual prowess of a rodeo clown, are barely worth addressing, as she herself said in the very video that got her in trouble in the first place. These are the people who have not only expressed no concern whatsoever for what has gone on in these detention centers, but, even more ironically, have been entirely mum on the swastika-touting neo-Nazi demonstrators who marched on Charlottesville and who have received remarkably mild treatment from the current president, who they admire so greatly. Their faux-indignation about undue Holocaust comparisons is dismissible out of hand.
AOC literally shrugged them off, at a loss for words as to what she could say to them, because, as she realized in real time, there’s really nothing to say. They are who they are. What’s upsetting about this particular episode is that Ocasio-Cortez went on to make a direct appeal to the sensibilities of those she felt had a good faith concern for the border crisis. She says, “I wanna talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not — that ‘never again’ means something.” Some of those very people, the ones to whom she made such an appeal, have been the ones in the media who have pounced at the opportunity to criticize her for her statement. Joe Scarborough, Chuck Todd, John Avlon, Jake Tapper, etc. You know the crowd. Without quoting or linking to each of their specific critiques, the central claim of their criticism is quite predictable: that while she is right to be critical of the detention centers at the border, analogies to the Nazi death camps are offensive and degrading to the memory of the Holocaust, and she should apologize.
As I mentioned earlier, while a “concentration camp” technically does not require forced labor or executions in order to be labeled as such, it’s undeniable that that the term connotes a similarity to the Nazi death camps of World War II. It’s also undeniable that Ocasio-Cortez made specific invocation of the Holocaust when she used the words “never again.” So the knee-jerk reaction would be to say “Aha! She did make a direct comparison to the Holocaust and that is offensive because obviously the two scenarios are radically different! The media is right, she’s wrong, and she should apologize.”
What the media fails to understand, however, is that AOC’s invocation of the Holocaust, and specifically, her use of the phrase “never again,” was actually doing more to honor the memory of the Holocaust than to degrade it. She said herself that “‘never again’ means something.” Well what does it mean? It means that in order to prevent such horrors from ever happening again, we must be vigilant and remind ourselves of the Holocaust before a “correct analogy” can be made. If we wait until such a historical comparison is completely apt, then we’ve failed to live up to the promise of “never again.” In that case, we’d be left with simply, “Again.”
Imagine, for a moment, that the Good Germans of the early 1930’s had the benefit of a political leader loudly sounding the alarm about the current political climate by making references, albeit hyperbolic, to a recent historical example of a religious genocide so fresh in the minds of the citizenry that they were determined to nip all others in the bud. Let’s not forget that while antisemitism was widespread throughout Germany at the time, it was unthinkable to most Germans that the Holocaust could or would ever occur. Could the same not be said right now about anti-immigrant sentiment? And do those “concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something” really want to brow-beat the one sounding the alarm?