Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D., N.Y.) claim the Trump administration was running "concentration camps" on the southern border was defended by several historians and members of the press on Twitter.
Ocasio-Cortez told viewers during an Instagram Live session on Monday that Trump was running an "authoritarian and fascist presidency" and said the detention system for illegal immigrants was akin to concentration camps, adding "never again," a clear Holocaust reference.
"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," Ocasio-Cortez told her viewers on Instagram.
In response to critics like Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.), who said her remarks were offensive to Jews who survived the Holocaust, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to criticize "shrieking Republicans" who couldn't differentiate between concentration camps and "death camps."
This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.
This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis ⬇️https://t.co/2dWHxb7UuL
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019
And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps.
Concentration camps are considered by experts as "the mass detention of civilians without trial."
And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019
Coming to Ocasio-Cortez's aid were several reporters and historians, including Washington Post opinion writer Radley Balko calling her usage of the term "accurate" and Princeton professor Kevin Kruse saying that concentration camps like Dachau set the stage for later death camps like Auschwitz.
Yes, "concentration camps" is accurate. https://t.co/drSgZ8nDaH
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) June 18, 2019
We associate the Holocaust with death camps like Auschwitz, but those didn't come out of nowhere.
Concentration camps like Dachau had been around since 1933, setting the principle that Auschwitz etc then built upon.
So: to prevent another Auschwitz, protest another Dachau.
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) June 18, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez retweeted Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg making an explicit Nazi comparison, writing, "Time to learn the difference between concentration camps and death (‘extermination') camps. Germany started with concentration camps in 1933. Death camps started in 1941. Never again is now."
Ok, Internet. Time to learn the difference between concentration camps and death ("extermination") camps.
Germany started with concentration camps in 1933.
Death camps started in 1941.
Never again is now. https://t.co/W3rbM5asVc
— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@TheRaDR) June 14, 2019
Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel suggested Ocasio-Cortez wasn't making a Holocaust comaprison, writing, "Not going any deeper into Concentration Camp Twitter today, but the term originated to describe British tactics in the Boer War, and was later applied to Nazi tactics. Problem with saying "internment camp" instead is that you remind people that Americans had them before."
Senior Slate editor Josh Keating shared an earlier article explaining that "concentration camp" didn't necessarily mean "Auschwitz."
— Josh Keating (@joshuakeating) June 18, 2019
MSNBC host Chris Hayes made a similar argument, writing, "If you spend a few minutes learning some actual history, you will find out that concentration camps are different from death camps and have a history that both predates and extends far past the Nazis."
If you spend a few minutes learning some actual history, you will find out that concentration camps are different from death camps and have a history that both predates and extends far past the Nazis. https://t.co/Bccy3SaXW0
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 18, 2019
Writing in his daily Reliable Sources newsletter, CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter said the episode was an example of the American political divide but only MSNBC viewers were correct in their defense of Ocasio-Cortez.
"Republican lawmakers and Fox News anchors were outraged," Stelter wrote. "Fox fans, in general, were disgusted while MSNBC fans knew exactly what Ocasio-Cortez meant. Our American divide in action."
The Twitter account for the Auschwitz Museum tweeted at Hayes and several others to follow their account where every day "we commemorate and educate about the tragic human history" of the infamous camp.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 18, 2019
UPDATE: Wednesday, 8:40 A.M.: This article was updated with Stelter's remarks in his newsletter.