Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Defends Calling Migrant Detention Camps ‘Concentration Camps’
In an interview with NBC, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) defended her use of the phrase “concentration camps” to refer to detention centers holding undocumented immigrants along the Mexican border.
While talking to an NBC interviewer, Ocasio-Cortez said that she was “absolutely comfortable using that term,” referring to her labeling of migrant holding centers as concentration camps. She went on to say that instead of misusing a Holocaust term that comes with heavy baggage, Ocasio-Cortez was attempting to draw attention to WWII in order to prevent history from repeating itself. The New York representative warned that “one of the biggest lessons that we learned from” the Holocaust is that such evil takes a “slow gradual process of increasingly dehumanizing steps and once you have convinced an electorate or once you have convinced a community that a certain group of people are bad or less than, it justifies and allows people to feel more comfortable with the dehumanization and the dehumanizing acts and the violation of their rights.”
Ocasio-Cortez first used the term “concentration camps” in an Instagram Live video on Monday, saying, “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are — they are concentration camps.” She continued by hoping that “‘never again’ means something,” referring to the phrase commonly used by Jews about the Holocaust.
Ocasio-Cortez’s original comments were referencing the centers in which illegal immigrants are being kept as the Department of Homeland Security struggles to deal with the large influx of migrants crossing the border. According to a report from the DHS itself, facilities such as the one in El Paso, Texas, are subject to “dangerous overcrowding” and unsanitary conditions.
DHS ripped 1000s of children from their parents & put them in cages w inhumane conditions.
They call their cells “dog pounds” & “freezers.”
I will never apologize for calling these camps what they are.
If that makes you uncomfortable, fight the camps – not the nomenclature. https://t.co/eJpJWeYiot
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 19, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez’s opponents didn’t hesitate to attack the Queens representative for her comments, heaping criticism upon her. Republicans, always eager to beat down the plucky young House freshman, called her remarks uneducated and offensive. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) accused Ocasio-Cortez of demeaning the memory of the Holocaust, and encouraged her to “spend just a few minutes learning some actual history.”
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. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this. https://t.co/NX5KPPb2Hl
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) June 18, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez’s comments are not the first from a Democratic freshman to spark calls of anti-semitism. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) stirred controversy when she made remarks that many viewed as insinuating that Jews were not loyal to America. Republican lawmakers heavily criticized Omar for her statement, accusing her of anti-semitism. These are just two examples of the recent attempt by Republicans to court Jewish voters and paint themselves as the party of the Jews, as opposed to the Democrats. Many have criticized the GOP for this strategy, as much more explicit anti-semitism inside the Republican party rarely gets as much attention as remarks from Omar and Ocasio-Cortez have. As Israeli-Palestinian relations become more of a liberal issue, it remains to be seen whether or not the GOP can transform itself into something that can appeal to Jewish voters.