Harold Ohayon
A Wandering New Yorker

Detaining Illegals Does Not Equate To Exterminating Jews

Hardly a day goes by without somebody making a grossly inappropriate comparison between President Trump and the Nazi Party. In what appears be a never-ending trend, countless politicians and average citizens ceaselessly lob this label against the President of the United States. While it is perfectly appropriate to criticize the man, and by all accounts he is worthy of much criticism, the usage of World War Two labels to demonize and slander him is utterly disgraceful and offensive.

The sheer frequency of the use of terms like ‘Nazi’ and ‘fascist’ hint at a wider flaw within America society. Perhaps the education system has truly failed the American public, for anyone with an inkling of knowledge as to what transpired in Europe between 1939 and 1945 would never stoop to using such labels to describe today’s America. During the last few years, however, it has become quite fashionable to call the Trump administration ‘fascist’ and anyone linked to him a ‘Nazi’. But do these accusers actually know what these terms mean? Are they aware of the horrors that devastated Europe over 70 years ago?

I doubt that they do. One of the most vocal proponents of using this slanderous charge is New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. The freshman representative has frequently used bombastic language in order to attack President Trump and his administration, and she has now crossed the Rubicon by using Nazi era terms to describe his policies.

Many of our hearts were broken when we witnessed families being separated at the southern border. And countless people understand that the current immigration system within the United States is deeply flawed and frankly quite broken. But the issues of border security and illegal immigrants is a problem many nations face, and the detaining of such immigrants is standard procedure around the world. But Representative Cortez took to the internet to lambast President Trump and declared that ‘concentration camps’ exist along the southern border. Just to make sure people understood what she was implying, she added in the term ‘never again’ to hammer the message home.

These usage of the terms ‘concentration camp’ and ‘never again’ are completely inappropriate when describing the situation on the border. When people speak of concentration camps, the mind’s eye rushes to images of fences, striped uniforms and systematic torture. Representative Cortez could have used countless other terms to describe the facilities on the southern border: detention centers, prisons, jails. But she selected ‘concentration camps’ to provoke a gut reaction to those who listened to her preposterous commentary. The adding of ‘never again’ only deepened the comparison with the Holocaust, this time by invoking images of death camps, mass graves and smoke stacks.

Representative Cortez received quite a response to these comments, and she did her utmost to backtrack. She tried to use grammatical navigation to justify her usage of the aforementioned terms. While it is debatable as to whether using the term ‘concentration camp’ could be justified in this instance, her adding in ‘never again’ made it quite clear that she was drawing a direct comparison between the detention of those who crossed the border illegally and those who were rounded up and exterminated in the death camps of Europe.

As people shout off and make such gross comparisons, the memory of the Holocaust is cheapened. If every politician you dislike is a Nazi, and if every policy is deemed to be on par with the Final Solution, then the actual Nazis and their dastardly legacy loses potency. Quite a few people today are ignorant as to what happened during Judaism’s darkest chapter. Some have even pointed out that a large segment of the population doesn’t even know what Auschwitz is. If we are to teach the future generations the legacy and lessons from the Holocaust, we must treat its memory with reverence and humility. To achieve this, we shouldn’t sit idly by as public officials or prominent voices use Nazi era imagery or language to demonize or denigrate their opponents. The only time such comparisons would be appropriate is if another monstrous totalitarian regime emerged somewhere and pursued policies of extermination. The North Korean gulags is an appropriate example where the term ‘concentration camp’ is warranted. The Sudanese genocide against black Africans and the Hutu slaughter of the Tutsis in Rwanda are two examples where the phrase ‘never again’ should be used. But the arresting and housing of illegal immigrants who illegally entered the country is in no way comparable to anything linked to the Nazi era or policy.

I would implore Representative Cortez and all those that pull use such language so casually to take a moment to reflect on what they are actually saying. Do they really think the United States government is rounding up innocent people, stripping them of their rights, seizing their property and then marching them to certain death? Do the really think Dachaus and Bergen Belsens dot the borderlands between Mexico and the United States? For sake of the honor of those who survived the Nazi menace, and for the memory of those who died in actual concentration camps, please cease using such language in the hopes of winning political points against your opponents. Hone your skills and craft your rebuttals with elegance and grace. Do not resort to slander and libel, for if you do use such language you not only make yourself look ridiculous but you also insult the memories of the millions that perish in Europe.

About the Author
Expat New Yorker living in the Land of the Rising Sun: Trekking to random parts of the globe, debating countless things under the sun, and attempting to learn to cook Korean food.
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