Anna Lind-Guzik ("a writer, attorney, and scholar of Soviet history, international law, and human rights, with degrees from Duke University, Harvard Law School, and Princeton") has written an essay defending Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's use of the term "concentration camps" to describe the facilities in which America has imprisoned brown-skinned asylum seekers who have presented themselves at the nation's border.
Lind-Guzik — who is Jewish — points out that the term "concentration camp" predates the Holocaust, and that the US refered to the internment camps where it illegally imprisoned Japanese Americans during WWII as concentration camps. There's no question that as a matter of linguistics, "concentration camp" is the right word for what the US is doing on its border.
More pointedly, Lind-Guzik defends comparisons to the Holocaust, because "the lessons of the Holocaust will be lost if we refuse to engage with them…Locking up refugees in camps is the real betrayal of the legacy of the Holocaust… 'Never again' means we must work to deescalate before atrocities rise to the horrors of Auschwitz."
She closes with this: "In memory of the 6 million Jews who perished because they were considered less human, I will not accept my government treating migrants like animals. And as the daughter of a Soviet Jewish refugee, I will not accept the criminalization of stateless people."
I'm also the son of a Soviet Jewish refugee, and I agree. What's more, as a "white-passing" Jew, I've watched with increasing unease as my fellow Ashkenazis have thrown their lot in with white supremacy, making common cause with white supremacists who support apartheid in Israel as part of a deranged end-times prophecy (liberally salted with racism and Islamophobia) and with white supremacists in the GOP who defend white privilege with every weapon at their disposal.
When my father arrived in Canada as a child, he was racialized, subjected to anti-Semitic slurs, discrimination and violence. By the time I was born, no one cared — or even knew — that I was Jewish. I had been pulled over the gunwales and given a cabin aboard the SS Whiteness.
But the last people welcomed into the boat are always the first people tossed overboard. If there was ever any doubt that Jews' whiteness was contingent and temporary, it should have been erased when Civil War larpers marched through the streets of Charlottesville, chanting "Jews will not replace us."
The alliance of American oligarchs with white supremacists that controls the White House and the Senate is the real threat to us Jews — not the BDS movement, which seeks to end injustice and halt a vast, wicked program of racist discrimination and militarized violence. The fact that some Jews are on the side of white supremacy does not mean that white supremacists will be on the side of Jews."First they came for the Central Americans" (and I said nothing because I thought racists wouldn't turn on me next).
America has built concentration camps and put innocent people in them. Some of them have already died and more will die in the days and weeks to come. If "never again" ever meant anything, it meant this: Jews must take a stand and say, "Not in our name. Never again. Not here, not anywhere, not ever."
It's tragic that Yad Vashem, an institution I've venerated and visited, has opted to chasten a young woman for calling out crimes against humanity that mirror what Jews endured less than a century ago, at the same that it embraces visitors like Viktor Orban, the anti-Semitic, ethnonationalist Hungarian prime minister.
In memory of the 6 million Jews who perished because they were considered less human, I will not accept my government treating migrants like animals. And as the daughter of a Soviet Jewish refugee, I will not accept the criminalization of stateless people. Perpetrators depend on complacency, on our inability to care for people unlike ourselves. No person is illegal, or a pest to be exterminated. If you don't like the term concentration camp, help close them.
(via Naked Capitalism)