New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came under fire — again — this time for calling the “detention” facilities asylum seekers are being stuffed into as concentration camps. Well duh, what else are they? Newsweek magazine beat me to the punch and posted a portion of the Mirriam-Websters definition of “concentration camp” to illustrate Ocasio-Cortez’s point. That was going to be my tactic.
Dictionary.com puts it this way:
“noun – a guarded compound for the detention or imprisonment of aliens, members of ethnic minorities, political opponents, etc., especially any of the camps established by the Nazis prior to and during World War II for the confinement and persecution of prisoners.”
They also add:
“ORIGIN OF CONCENTRATION CAMPS
“1900-05, applied orig. to camps where noncombatants were placed during the Boer War.”
As historians have been explaining ever since Ocasio-Cortez began to get backlash for her remarks. These camps where migrant — refugee — children are being held, without their parents, are concentration camps in every description, except current public discourse.
“We can’t call them concentration camps because that would be comparing them to the Nazi death camps of WWII.” Well, they’re two different things actually. The Nazis had the intention of killing millions of Jews and others. I don’t think the Trump Administration has the plan to murder thousands of refugees, but let’s not forget the number of children who have died in these concentration camps on the border and elsewhere. Six, three so far this year, according to former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who apparently is expecting that number to increase.
I say elsewhere because soon government authorities will be using Fort Sill in Oklahoma to lock these children up — a location once used as a concentration camp to confine Japanese-Americans during WWII.
Who can forget Nielsen trying to describe the cages as being something other than cages. “Sir, they are not cages,” she told Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson after he asked if we are still putting children in cages. He had been to the facilities and seen the cages with his own eyes. “I just want you to admit the cages do exist!”
Nielsen never did admit the cages do exist (we’ve all see the photos), even after Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey asked her how the cages for asylum seeking children differed from the cages people use to house their dogs outdoors. Nielsen’s reply was that the cages for children were bigger and provided amenities so the kids could lie down, sit and walk around. “So does my dog’s cage,” Watson-Coleman replied.
Concentration camps … no, they aren’t like the camps used by the Nazis in WWII, but they do function to hold people of color, immigrants, against their will.
A report from the Associated Press put it in more revealing, and bleak, terms. Lawyers representing, or trying to represent, the children being held in these concentration camps, call it a “dangerous situation.”
Holly Cooper, co-director of the UC-Davis Immigration Law Clinic told the AP, “In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention I have never heard of this level of inhumanity.”
Three young teenage girls describe taking care of a two-year-old who didn’t have diapers and was wearing a mucus-covered shirt. A teen mother with a premature baby was held for nine days before the attorneys spoke with her. Held without adequate medical care.
Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders said there wasn’t enough resources to take care of all the children. He told the AP, “The death of a child is always a terrible thing, but here is a situation where, because there is not enough funding … they can’t move the people out of our custody.”
Yeah, it’s bad when a child dies, but we just don’t have the money to treat them humanely.
The kids aren’t fed fresh fruits or vegetables and they haven’t had a clean change of clothing or showers/baths for weeks.
Was Rep. Ocasio-Cortez wrong to refer to these facilities as concentration camps? They fit the dictionary description and historians agree. We can call them anything we want, one official said they were like “summer camps,” but they are concentrations camps.
Let’s not overlook the fact the Trump Administration manufactured this humanitarian crisis with his “Zero Tolerance” policy first launched by former AG. Jefferson Sessions. These families, ripped apart and separated by federal agents, are being held for political purposes, to whip up their base. Support that includes white suprematists, Neo-Nazis and other rabid racists.
The people being crammed into these facilities (many federal officials admit they do not have enough space for them all) are political prisoners.
Actor Jennifer Garner joined the Save the Children organization when they visited facilities in New Mexico. When an NGO best known for trying to help children abroad is now making news visiting immigrant children in the U.S., the situation has become worse than tragic. It is a crime against humanity.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right: these facilities are nothing like the Nazi death camps of WWII, but they are concentration camps. Look it up in the dictionary.
Top photo is a YouTube screenshot of immigrant children in cages
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.