Sheldon Kirshner

A False Analogy From Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the U.S. Congress, should accept an invitation from Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former Nazi concentration camp in Poland.

Mosberg, the honorary president of the Holocaust commemoration group From the Depths, issued the invitation on June 21, several days after Ocasio-Cortez falsely compared  U.S. detention centres holding undocumented immigrants with German concentration camps.

“The U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are,” she said with the utmost certainty.

The following day, she reiterated her claim. “This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized the dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”

Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken Democratic Party politician who represents New York in the House of Representatives, apparently gleaned her information from an article in Esquiremagazine written by Andrea Pitzer, who likened federal migrant facilities near the U.S. border with Mexico to Nazi concentration camps.

These shelters may leave much to be desired, President Donald Trump’s immigration policy may be reprehensible and unjust, and Ocasio-Cortez’s righteous indignation about the U.S. government’s treatment of undocumented immigrants may well be correct. Yet she undermines her case by making patently false analogies.

Taken aback by her misleading comments, Mosberg, 93, said that all members of Congress should be required to tour Auschwitz-Birkenau, where more than one million people, mainly Jews, Soviet prisoners of war and Polish political dissidents, were murdered.

It may not be necessary for every congressman or congresswoman to visit this place of infamy because some are quite familiar with Nazi Germany’s plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe, and would not confuse Nazi concentration camps with U.S. detention centers.

But judging by her ill-informed remarks, Ocasio-Cortez would greatly benefit from a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, which has become a gruesome symbol of unmitigated evil. As From the Depths founder Jonny Daniels said, her “lack of a proper education on the Holocaust” was glaringly evident.

To compare U.S. detention centers with Adolf Hitler’s network of brutalizing concentration camps is not only factually wrong but morally disgraceful.

Whatever one thinks of American detention centers, undocumented immigrants in the United States are treated like human beings and are not singled out for abuse, debasement and murder, which is what took place in Nazi concentration camps on a regular and systematic basis.

The Trump administration, rightly or wrongly, wants to repatriate migrants who have entered the United States illegally. The Nazi regime used concentration camps, from Dachau to Treblinka, to torture and kill inmates.

As Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming correctly noted in reacting to Ocasio-Cortez off-putting remarks, her analogy demeans the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

If Ocasio-Cortez cannot heed Mosberg’s advice and visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, let her at least spend time at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. or avail herself of books, pamphlets and documents on the topic.

Surely they will guide her in the right direction.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,