Was AOC Right to Call Detention Centers Concentration Camps?

"The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border — and that is exactly what they are." This historian says the backlash over Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling migrant detention centers "concentration camps" ignores their history.

Historian on AOC Calling Migrant Detention Centers "Concentration Camp"

The United States is running immigration concentration camps on our southern border. According to Congresswoman Alexandria Octavia Cortez that is exactly what they are — they are concentration camps. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) thinks Congresswoman AOC needs to apologize, not only to the nation, but to the world. He does not believe she understands history. AOC's comments were also criticized by Fox News. She's using concentration camps to describe what's happening on the southern border. Does she owe every Jewish person of the faith on the planet an apology?

A lot of people in the current debate are saying AOC is obviously wrong because she's saying that these camps are the same as death camps, and the key point here is that firstly: Concentration camps existed long before the Nazi state. They existed for over 30 years before the Nazi state. It's important because if making a comparison. When someone says "concentration camps" — one might not be necessarily implying Nazi death camps.

Secondly, Nazi concentration camps were not initially death camps in a systematic sense, even though large numbers of people were killed, it wasn't part of an actual policy of mass killing in the way that it was later. What the British decided to do is to take the women and children out of the farms and also a lot of the African farm laborers off those farms and put them in camps. They don't provide enough in the way of food. There is very poor sanitation and the result is the epidemic diseases, and anything in the region of 50 to 60,000 people die mainly of diseases and a majority of them were children. The situations in the Spanish war against the Cuban rebels, the American war against the Filipinos, the German war against the Namibians is essentially very, very similar.

Jonathan Hyslop is a sociology professor and author of "The Invention of the Concentration Camp: Cuba, Southern Africa and the Philippines, 1896–1907" gives his historical perspective on the context of this controversial comparison towards a humantarian crisis. Hyslop says an increase in the number of people held in immigration detention is cause for humanitarian concern, no matter the rhetoric.