The Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy has attracted bipartisan criticism in recent weeks, particularly over reports of children being separated from their parents during preliminary investigations.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden was one of many prominent Americans — including all four living former first ladies — to speak out against the Department of Justice policy.
Many Twitter users felt he went too far, however, by referencing the Holocaust in his denunciation.
Other governments have separated mothers and children pic.twitter.com/tvlBkGjT0h
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) June 16, 2018
“Other governments have separated mothers and children,” he wrote as the caption to an image of Birkenau, the largest of dozens of concentration camps located inside the Auschwitz complex in what is now Poland.
The retired U.S. Air Force general was almost immediately bombarded with criticism from those offended by his comparison.
What a dumb comparison.
A. Those Jewish mothers and children weren’t in Germany illegally
B. Our government isn’t gassing and burning illegal immigrants https://t.co/ZL8xlN2yaP
— Pardes Seleh (@PardesSeleh) June 16, 2018
Writer Pardes Seleh called it a “dumb comparison,” pointing out that the families separated during the Holocaust were legal residents who were then tortured or killed.
Devout Jew and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro called the tweet “insulting and absurd.”
This is insulting and absurd. Just a reminder: the Nazis separated mothers from children and then gassed all the kids and nearly all of the mothers. https://t.co/dLV1taWyqt
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 17, 2018
“Just a reminder: the Nazis separated mothers from children and then gassed all the kids and nearly all of the mothers,” Shapiro wrote.
Others took a more sympathetic tone to Hayden’s warning, arguing that it is helpful to remember the atrocities of the Holocaust to avoid repeating the same policies that allowed it to take place.
Hayden retweeted several such responses, adding that he intended his original post to serve as a warning, not a direct comparison.
I thought it was obvious too https://t.co/Q5f8dHY4b8
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) June 17, 2018
“How do people not get we need to prevent what happened in these camps,” one user wrote. “It’s the slide to something like Birkenau is what you’re warning against.”
Hayden responded that he “thought it was obvious too.”
He later tweeted the same image as before with a different caption.
“This is Birkenau,” he wrote. “Then Germany. Now Poland. NO ONE who now walks through that portal on that siding can casually believe that civilized behavior is guaranteed.”
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