In a social media rant Monday night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested that President Donald Trump is the next Adolf Hitler because of his detention of immigrants.
The New York Democrat told her 3.6 million Instagram followers in a video: “The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she was only speaking to “the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘Never Again’ means something,” a reference to the Nazi Holocaust, which saw the systematic murder of some 6 million Jews along with millions of others.
“The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the ‘Home of the Free’ is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it,” she declared. “This week, immigrant children were moved to the same internment camps where the Japanese were held in the earlier 20th century.”
The Health and Human Services Department announced Wednesday that it would transfer some detained immigrant children to a U.S. Army base once used to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II. The move came amid a shortage of shelters to house an overflow of people crossing the border. In 2014, the Obama administration also used the base to detain immigrants.
Ocasio-Cortez falsely claims Trump is operating concentration camps, compares the situation to the Holocaust: “The U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are. … ‘Never Again’ means something … we need to do something about it” pic.twitter.com/F2MmZ8y2dT
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) June 18, 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez goes beyond concentration camps
Ocasio-Cortez – a bombastic and often–inaccurate critic of Trump’s hardline immigration policies – went on to say that Trump had created a crisis not just for “the immigrant communities being held in concentration camps,” but also for the United States.
“This is a crisis if America will remain America in its actual principles and values or if we are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency,” she said. “I don’t use those words lightly. I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is. A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist.”
Hours before Ocasio-Cortez recorded her video, Trump tweeted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will next week “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”
Ocasio-Cortez has previously invoked the memory of the Holocaust in partisan political debates.
In an April tweet, she responded to Trump’s criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar by quoting a famous poem, “First They Came,” in which German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller decried the cowardice of German intellectuals for enabling the he atrocities of the Third Reich. She demanded that every lawmaker defend the Minnesota Democrat lest they be the next victims of Trump’s Nazi-like campaign that puts every U.S. lawmaker at risk.
Last November, Ocasio-Cortez likened the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border to Jewish refugees whom the United States turned away before World War II.
In both cases, conservative Jews protested her comments–though not as vociferously as those made last month by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, who in 2018 joined Omar as the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
Neo-Nazis and white supremacists and white nationalists – oh my!
Liberal fears that Trump would be a Hitler-like dictator have receded from mainstream discourse since his 2016 election. But accusations – also repeatedly propounded by Ocasio-Cortez – that Trump has advanced a white supremacist agenda and given succor to right-wing extremists have persisted.
Trump critics have pointed to FBI statistics that show reported hate crimes rising significantly in recent years, including a 17 percent increase to more than 7,000 in 2017.
While liberal activists have argued that such incidents are still underreported, conservatives have challenged the whole notion of hate crimes as largely subjective and subject to inflation.
Reason’s Robby Soave argued last November that anyone talking about hate crime increases should keep one “critical detail” in mind: “The overall number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crime data also increased greatly—approximately 1,000 additional agencies contributed figures in 2017 than in 2016.”
“This means it’s not obviously the case that hate crimes are more prevalent in 2017. Maybe the government just did a better job of counting them,” Soave said.
Kmele Foster, another libertarian commentator, also took issue with how hate crimes are classified during an appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” in February.
“When we talk about hate crimes, we talk about there being 15 percent increases in these things–a hate crime is not the sort of thing that we can simply look at and say ‘It is absolutely a hate crime.’ There’s some supposition about that,” Foster said. “There is a great ambiguity about what makes something a hate crime. There are subjective determinations there.”