Dear Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez

Dear Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez,

It’s me. Again.

I really do want to like you, but you make it so damn hard.

So let’s speak once again, millennial to millennial. No pretending we’re holier than thou, no trying to one up each other, just two liberal millennials who seem to have very opposing views on some core issues.

Deep breaths as you lower yourself from your high horse (you should do that more, by the way), you have nothing to prove to me. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you for looking like an extra in a circa 2009 Taylor Swift music video when you decided to discuss this topic on a Twitter live-stream two nights ago in your pajamas sitting on your bedroom floor.

Yesterday you tweeted in response to the criticism of you calling the detention camps on the southern border “concentration camps” in said video:
“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.”

Now while I 100% do agree with you that America’s treatment of those seeking asylum is a humanitarian issue, splitting families is a sin, the government showing a strong level of animosity to those interned is vile, and “never again” truly means never f*cking again, these “concentration camps” you refer to by no means are actual Concentration Camps.

Detention centers, detention facilities, border camps, refugee camps, a place from hell- yes.

Concentration camps- absolutely not.

Words matter.
Especially when you talk about human suffering, the words you use truly matter.

You are correct in your response to the obvious condemnation of your comment that a concentration camp is not an extermination camp, however a concentration camp has a heavy Holocaust implication. I don’t think I am wrong in assuming that the first time you ever heard the term “concentration camp” and perhaps the only time you hear the term is in reference to the Holocaust.

By using any words such as “Kristallnacht”, “Holocaust”, “Auschwitz”, etc. to describe anything other than the actual Kristallnacht, Holocaust or Auschwitz, you are erasing the particularity of the Holocaust.

Calling something that is not a concentration camp a “concentration camp” diminishes the memory of the millions of people (Jews, political prisoners, Poles, Soviets, POWs, homosexuals) who were killed via labor, starvation, illnesses etc. in actual concentration camps during the actual Holocaust perpetrated by the actual Hitler.

Correct, not extermination camps, but concentration camps set to exploit the prisoners until they died. Or as I prefer to say “murdered”, since no one just died in the Holocaust/ WWII.

Even with all the suggested similarities, detention camps are not concentration camps and Trump is not Hitler. Just because we don’t approve of someone/ something does not mean their/ the action can be compared to those taken on a genocidal scale.

The murder of my people should never be used for your ego, political gain and pursuit against conservative extremism in a context that is anything but.

By making the comparison, not only are you trivializing Holocaust commemoration, but you are belittling the cause you are fighting for.

You came on Twitter two nights ago to do a Q and A which led into a discussion about a humanitarian crisis. Twenty-four hours and counting later you are now giving the world a questionable Holocaust lesson.
What happened to that humanitarian crisis you were set on resolving two nights ago in your pajamas? Your Twitter feed is full solely of Holocaust content, not news and education on detention centers.

I certainly agree with you that “never again” is now- not just in America toward asylum seekers, but throughout the world towards a number of minorities. I also strongly believe that the Holocaust should be used as a tool to teach about bigotry and baseless hatred- not in order to compare, but in order to teach.

However, for something to qualify as “never again” it does not need to be the same nature as the Holocaust.

For detention centers to be “never again” they do not need to be concentration camps. You don’t need to use the Holocaust to justify why taking action against something objectively wrong and immoral is permitted.

The moment you realize that, taking action, engaging in important conversations and possibly changing the sad reality will become possible.

Until then, enjoy spending the rest of the day re-tweeting all those who agree with you and ignoring the actual issue at hand, while those suffering in detention centers continue to suffer.

About the Author
Lottie Kestenbaum was born to British parents and grew up in New Jersey. To add to the identity crisis, Lottie made aliyah in August 2012. Hello tri-citizenship! She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Holocaust Studies at Haifa University and living in Jerusalem. Yes, it is a shlep. No need to mention it :-)