I Can’t Believe It’s Necessary to Explain the Meaning of a Concentration Camp, But Here We Go

Next time someone tries to tell you that the political landscape in the United States isn’t that bad, remind her that we’ve entered a point where legislators are arguing over whether something does or doesn’t constitute a concentration camp.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines this week for saying that the Trump administration is running concentration camps near the border to hold migrants.

Rather than being outraged that these camps exist, many figures on the right were outraged that Ocasio-Cortez would dare to make such a comparison. Senator Liz Cheney came in with one of the worst retorts, tweeting:

“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.”

That’s quite a lecture coming from someone who probably should have spent a few minutes of her own to learn about history. You see, there’s a distinction between concentration camps and death camps. Just because the Trump administration isn’t actively murdering their captives doesn’t mean they’re not running a concentration camp – nor does it any way excuse their dehumanizing policies.

In the Holocaust specifically, Jewish people were held in concentration camps for years before the Nazis started operating death camps. That’s not always the trajectory of concentration camps, but it’s certainly an easier progression after labeling a certain segment of the population worthless enough to be removed.

For the record, experts on this subject agree with Ocasio-Cortez. Andrea Pitzer, who wrote One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, said, “We have what I would call a concentration camp system – and the definition of that in my book is mass detention of civilians without trial.”

Holocaust historian Waitman Wade Beorn took a similar view: “Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz. Concentration camps in general have always been designed, at the most basic level, to separate one group of people from another group. Usually because the majority group or the creators of the camp deem the people they’re putting in it to be dangerous or undesirable in some way.”

Let’s not forget that there have been at least 22 deaths in U.S. migrant detention centers already, so it’s not as if the government is doing a great job of not killing the people in their “care.” The fact that American is planning to use a former Japanese-American internment camp to house migrant children, and that children will no longer be receiving education and recreation at these camps only solidifies how far the situation has already devolved.

Listen, Sen. Cheney, your father, the former vice president, is widely regarded as a war criminal, so you may not want to volunteer yourself as the arbiter of what is and is not an atrocity. These are very much concentration camps, and will be regarded as a shameful period in American history regardless of whether they turn into death camps.

Take Action!

Don’t let these concentration camps persist in the U.S. without taking a stand. Sign this Care2 petition to tell the Trump administration you are disgusted by the family separations and detention centers.

110 comments

Alea C
Alea C4 hours ago

Back again for butterfly points.

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Alea C
Alea C4 hours ago

Back again for butterfly points.

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BobbyKat L
BobbyKat L5 hours ago

Thank you.

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Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle11 hours ago

Prisoners are treated much better than we are treating migrant and their children.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H3 days ago

thanks

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Alea C
Alea C4 days ago

Posting for butterfly credits.

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Alea C
Alea C4 days ago

Posting for butterfly credits.

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Patrice Z
Patrice Z4 days ago

Powerful post.

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Alea C
Alea C5 days ago

Still no new causes I see. Very disappointing.

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Alea C
Alea C5 days ago

No one is getting newsletters Annabel, and I miss them too.

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