The blowback from Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s repeated description of U.S. immigrant detention centers as “concentration camps” continues. Along with members of both the Republican and Democratic parties, multiple prominent Jewish organizations, and mainstream media figures, college students are also going on record to rebuke the self-styled democratic socialist for the “extreme” and “embarrassing” comparison.
In an Instagram live video on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez accused the Trump administration of “running concentration camps on our southern border,” describing the administration as “fascist” and citing the Holocaust reference “Never Again” in her description of the alleged humanitarian abuses in the detention centers holding illegal immigrants.
“The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “They are concentration camps. And, um, if that doesn’t bother you, I don’t, I don’t know, I like, we can have, okay whatever. I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not that ‘Never Again’ means something and that the fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it. This week, children, immigrant children were moved to the same internment camps where the Japanese were held in, in the early, in the earlier 20th century and this is, um, this is not even about a crisis for, this is not just about the immigrant communities being held in concentration camps being a crisis. This is a crisis for ourselves. This is a crisis on if America will remain America on its actual principles and values or if we are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency. And so I think that that is you know, I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I used that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is. A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist and it’s very difficult to say that because it is very difficult to accept the fact that that is how bad things have gotten but that is how bad things are.”
She doubled down on the claim in a tweet Tuesday in which she insisted that this is “not hyperbole”: “This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”
Campus Reform’s Cabot Phillips went to D.C.’s George Washington University to ask college students what they thought about Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet. Though most of the students appeared to be trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, they all agreed that she’d gone too far.
“I think she owes a major apology to the American people for comparing these detainment camps to one of the most horrific events ever in history,” says one student. He goes on to describe the comment as “an embarrassment to the Democratic Party.”
“You can’t be throwing the word ‘concentration camps’ around all willy-nilly,” says another. The hyperbolic comments “might make the people who would normally support her be a little bit annoyed,” suggests another.
“I think that’s a bit extreme,” one remarks. “To call them concentration camps where, you know, no one’s being killed en masse, or killed indiscriminately is a reach,” says another.
Though most of the students appeared to be trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, they all agreed that she’d gone too far. “I see what she’s trying to do, kind of rallies her base, but I think that it’s not very good for public discourse,” says one student.
“‘Concentration camp’ elicits the idea of extermination, which I don’t think is happening, so I think in that sense it’s a little extreme,” one student says.
As The Daily Wire reported, Ocasio-Cortez has continued to defend her comments, attempting to claim that she was not deliberately referencing the Nazi concentration camps ultimately used to murdered millions of Jews. Among those rebuking the congresswoman are multiple Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which issued a letter explaining why they are “deeply disturbed” by her language:
The terms “Concentration Camp” and “Never Again” are synonymous with and evocative of the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, in which 6 million European Jews were systematically denied civil and human rights due to their race and ultimately murdered in a state-sponsored genocide. As concerned as we are about the conditions experienced by migrants seeking asylum in the United States, including family separation, unusable facilities, and lack of food, water, and medical resources, the regrettable use of Holocaust terminology to describe these contemporary concerns diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis to eradicate the Jewish people.