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During an interview with WABC-TV reporter Dave Evans, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was asked if she regretted comparing immigration detention centers to concentration camps. Naturally, the freshman Congresswoman doubled down on her previous remarks, saying she stood by what she said. The most ironic part of the interview, however, is listening to her explain how Americans need to learn about history.
Evans: Do you feel, on Israel, you said this administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized in dehumanizing conditions and dying. You got a lot of grief for using the word “concentration camps.” Do you regret that or do you think people misinterpreted that?
AOC: I don’t. Yeah, I think there’s a few things at play. One, I don’t regret it at all. A group, in fact, I think of almost 200 historians, rabbis, academics have come together in support of this term—
Evans: —But you think conditions are that bad at the border?
AOC: Yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. I sat on concrete floors with women whose hair was falling out and they were developing sores in their mouth. Parents are dying with their children watching them. And all without a trial, all with just an accusation, and all with the intent to dehumanize.
Evans: And again, this may be part of what the Republicans want to do, but they painted that as anti- Semitic.
AOC: Which is ahistorical. If you, if we study our history, which, we’re supposed to study our history, especially as elected officials, I think we have a unique responsibility to study history. And what we see is concentration camps are not unique to any one period of time. We, in the United States, have a history of concentration camps with Japanese interment, in South Africa. They were part of a larger process in the Holocaust, but they were not unique, nor were they the actual death camps in the Holocaust either. Concentration camps are a facility when people are targeted by their identity and held without trial.
Evans: We’ve touched on this. Do you think that by using language like that that’s maybe why you’re such a lighting rod?
AOC: I do think that by elevating the term that academics and historians were already using to talk about the Southern Border, it started a conversation, a really important and urgent one, because the conditions on the border have been dire for quite some time. And I think that sometimes by, what I believe is telling the truth, can be controversial and I am knowingly and willingly telling that truth, which I know will be controversial. And that is part of the reason people that I am a lighting rod. But it’s not as though i’m trying to stir up trouble without cause or without intention. We need to save people’s lives and, if calling things what they are is ‘controversial,’ then so be it.
It’s rather ironic to hear Ocasio-Cortez talking about how Americans need to study history.
She calls detention facilities on the border “concentration camps” yet she has been repeatedly told she is wrong. Are the conditions at the border great? No. Could they be better? Absolutely. But to say illegal immigrants, who willingly broke the law and crossed into the United States, are enduring the same treatment as Jews during the Holocaust is not only historically inaccurate but morally wrong.
Jews were rounded up like cattle during World War II because of their religious beliefs. They went to sent to concentration camps to work for the Nazis and essentially help the Third Reich eliminate the Jewish population. They received very little food or water. Bathing was almost non-existent and people worked until they died.
Illegal immigrants in detention centers came to the United States illegally. They made the choice to cross our border. They knew the consequences of their actions. They were caught and arrested. They’re receiving foods and water. They’re not being worked to death and Border Patrol agents aren’t working to kill off an entire population of people.
If anyone needs to go back to History class, it’s you, AOC. It’s you.