I live in America, nowhere else, so America’s behavior is my primary concern. That isn’t to say that what other countries do isn’t important, but rather that this is my country, my country is doing shameful things, and I am ashamed. Of all the places where I can make a difference, I can make the biggest difference here, at home. So save your ‘whatabout’isms for another day.
A few weeks ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out the spade by directly discussing the concentration camps Trump has created. While several people had already been doing this, her particular popularity (that is, positively popular among leftists while also being often brought up on Fox news, thus ensuring the far-right is well aware of her as well) caused the attention to this topic to finally gain some proper traction. Immediately after the discussion reached the internet, people came out in droves to say that it’s not comparable to Nazi Germany, conflating concentration camps with extermination camps in an effort to distract from the true horror of what is happening in our country.
Jewish Activists Are Protesting ICE Detention Centers Across The Country
Hundreds of Jewish activists are protesting at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement centers on the East and West…
Perhaps, for some, it they aren’t being purposefully malicious. After all, extermination camps are rarely referred to as such because they are an extreme end result of concentration camps. Since extermination camps are then therefore referred to as concentration camps, that is often the first, and sometimes only (despite America’s own concentration camps from the same time being discussed in most history books), image people conjure when thinking of one. And if that is all you can think of when you hear the words ‘concentration camp,’ and you also happen to be supportive of any part of the current treatment of brown-skinned immigrants in America, of course you’re going to be defensive. You aren’t a Nazi, after all!
But the time for willful ignorance has long passed. At this point, if you are still clinging to that ‘I’m not a bad person, therefore the things I support cannot be that bad, even if things get a bit rough at times’ sort of mindset, you are complacent and contributing to the problem.
We (yes, we — we are all responsible for what occurs in our country) are throwing refugees into already over-crowded prisons and refusing to provide basic necessities, ranging from soap and toothpaste to clean water, adequate food, legal aid for the young children, and even basic health care. And people are dying. Of course, the people who want this to continue are saying it’s sad but there’s little they can do, but that’s a lie. They could decide not to behave this way. They could choose not to do this.
Because this isn’t about the law. It never was. That’s why they’ve had no problems coming out, arresting, and attempting to deport anyone who fits into a certain ethnic group that they can, even if that person has lived in America for all or most of their life, even if that person is an American veteran or even if they’re actively serving, even if they did things ‘the right way,’ as so many supporters of these camps insist they want, and even if that person is an American citizen.
It’s not about the law. Even as they try to push a ‘crisis’ story, saying there’s just too many people — the fact is, border crossings are actually much lower than they used to be. Even if there has been a slight uptick recently, it’s nothing in comparison to historic highs. Additionally, the vast majority of people who are risking it in the first place are doing so because staying in their home country is the worse option, thanks to America’s meddling over several decades.
It’s never been about the law.
Protesters demand the closure of immigrant detention centers
Protesters nationwide were bringing attention to the issue of immigration and demanding the closure of migrant…
The rounding up of human beings of a specific ethnic group that have been declared bad by the state to cram them into a small area — to concentrate them in one place, if you will — is how concentration camps are formed. And America has already gone several steps beyond concentration.
Most Americans, even those who are willfully and purposefully ignoring it now, were taught about the concentration camps in World War II, where the Japanese Americans who lived along the Pacific coast were rounded up ‘just in case.’ I remember my history books saying things like ‘as a security measure,’ and my 8th grade language arts book featuring a short story where the worst atrocity was how Americans put sweet things on top of rice.
I remember that my teachers were upset that some of the students didn’t understand why the situation was such an awful one. I’m grateful that they recognized there was a shortcoming, even if they didn’t recognize where that shortcoming was coming from. But that was also the extent of the discussion. We certainly never learned about the concentration camps used in the Phillipines, and how many people are taught about the both literal and cultural genocides committed against Native Americans?
You could say ‘that’s the past, things have changed, that’s not related to current events, this is totally different!
Except, it’s relevant because this is our legacy, and we’re doing it again. And it’s not different. Many of the things people have been saying and doing echo the 1930s and 40s. This has all happened before. We should always learn from our history, so that we can strive not to repeat it.
You could say ‘They’re committing a crime!’
Remember: In Nazi Germany, being Jewish was a crime. That does not make what happened to the Jewish people acceptable. Letting children die because you don’t like something about them or how they got here is equally unacceptable.
America has created concentration camps along the Mexican border. These innocent civilians are being left to sleep outside, on concrete, even though they could provide beds. The guards are taking their babies’ clothes and their blankets. They’re refusing them soap, clean clothes, and even a way to clean the clothes they do have.
This is how it always starts, anywhere you go and any time you go to. We other, we demonize, then we destroy.
We cannot be complacent. We cannot let this happen. Fighting back starts with realizing that things are fundamentally broken, and it’s going to take admitting some truths that might make us uncomfortable, or might even deeply upset us. But they should upset us. America has done and is currently doing horrible things. America is not a good country.
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Rejecting the notion that denouncing the Trump administration's immigrant detention centers as "concentration camps"…
But we can make it one.
And is starts with fighting back against the human rights atrocities that are being perpetuated by white supremacists, and those who ride their waves to satiate their thirst for wealth and power.