@AOC seems to have poured a dramatic amount of petrol onto the fiery discussion regarding Trump’s border concentration camps by simply calling them concentration camps.
No matter how many people assume that ‘concentration camp’ means a Nazi extermination camp, that is not what ‘concentration camp’ means. As one dictionary states :-
A camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group the government has identified as suspect.
Although that is not from the full Oxford English Dictionary, I have checked with that definitive work and it’s definition agrees with the above.
The relevant Twitter threads are filled with agreements and disagreements, and it is the later I’ll take a closer look at.
At least in some instances; more than a few consist of approximately “Well they’re illegal immigrants so they deserve it” which is so repulsively disgusting that the only appropriate response is a good slap.
The next objection is along the lines of: “You can’t call them concentration camps; that would be disrespectful to the 6 million Jews that the Nazis murdered”.
Funnily enough, it’s rarely mentioned that the Nazis also killed 11 million other people as well as the 6 million Jews. Almost as if there is a politically acceptable “holocaust denial” (strictly speaking the Holocaust is only the Jews; there isn’t an acceptable ‘cool’ name for the entirety of the Nazi crimes against humanity).
Let’s correct a few misconceptions about Nazi concentration camps (and there have been plenty of other concentration camps around the world) :-
- The concentration camps were first created in 1933 to hold political prisoners and union organisers. Those targeted for starvation rations, brutal treatment, and slave labour rapidly grew to include homosexuals, Romani, communists, socialists, the disabled, Poles, Slavs, Soviet POWs, and just about anyone who could be labelled “undesirable”.
- Jews were also targeted as soon as the Nazis came to power but weren’t sent en-mass to concentration camps until 1939 when they were forced to live in Jewish “ghettos” (effectively concentration camps).
- The extermination camps were set up in 1942 to speed up the “final solution”; approximately 90% of those killed at these extermination camps were Jewish.
There is also “But Obama did it first” (these camps were first instantiated in 2014 under the previous administration). This is distinctly reminiscent of the wailing child that gets caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar “But someone else did it first”. As I understand it, the scale of the previous administration’s camps was far less than now, but give me a time machine and I’ll still go back and tell off Obama.
Now back to our original topic. Is it fair to call the border camps ‘concentration camps’? They certainly meet the dictionary definition, and there are genuine reasons why the comparison with the Nazi concentration camps is entirely appropriate.
That is not to say that the border concentration camps are comparable to the Nazi concentration camps in 1944, but there are many disturbing parallels to the Nazi concentration camps in 1934. The time to stop these camps potentially evolving into something similar to the Nazi concentration camps of 1944 is now.