Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lit a social media powder keg on Monday night after she uploaded an Instagram video in which she compared the U.S. southern border holding centers to Nazi-era concentration camps.
Although the 29-year-old freshman lawmaker tried walking back her comments to some degree Tuesday, arguing that she wasn’t referring to Nazi death camps, at least one phrasing choice in the video made it crystal-clear what she meant.
“The U.S. is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are,” she said in the video. “If that doesn’t bother you … I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something.”
The “never again” invocation is a direct reference to the horrific, unspeakable tragedies that took place during the Holocaust. As expected, Ocasio-Cortez’s liberal followers defended her inflammatory, disrespectful and outright bogus comparison. However, the fallout from her video was so awful that on Tuesday, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum stepped in on social media to help educate her followers.
It started when Rep. Liz Cheney fired back at Ocasio-Cortez for saying what she said. Her tweet encouraged the lawmaker to learn basic world history.
Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this. https://t.co/NX5KPPb2Hl
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) June 18, 2019
Once that tweet made the rounds, supporters of Ocasio-Cortez and journalists defended her against Cheney’s criticism. One of those in the media was MSNBC host Chris Hayes.
He responded to Cheney with a snarky tweet: “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
He followed up his tweet with another shot, riddled with an anti-Trump undertone.
“Who do you think will end up on the right side of history: those cheering on the concentration of tens of thousands of desperate migrants in camps with communicable diseases and contemptuous neglect, or those shouting loudly that this is terrible?” he asked Cheney.
Who do you think will end up on the right side of history: those cheering on the concentration of tens of thousands of desperate migrants in camps with communicable diseases and contemptuous neglect, or those shouting loudly that this is terrible?
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 18, 2019
Hundreds, if not more, echoed Hayes’ thoughts and defense of Ocasio-Cortez, as the MSNBC host boasts 1.87 million followers on Twitter.
Not long after Hayes flared his nostrils and tried to dispel the notion that Ocasio-Cortez was referring to Nazi death camps, the Auschwitz Museum’s official Twitter account ostensibly began advising Hayes — and other defenders of Ocasio-Cortez — to follow its account for a history lesson.
“Please consider following @AuschwitzMuseum where everyday we commemorate and educate about the tragic human history of #Auschwitz.” the museum tweeted.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 18, 2019
The museum’s twitter account repeated that same message to several users who defended or agreed with Hayes’ skewed defense of Ocasio-Cortez’s comments.
The bottom line is that Ocasio-Cortez overstepped in her lousy comparison between Mexican and South American migrants who were being held for processing — after voluntarily crossing the border — in humane and legal conditions. They are not being forced into manual labor or marched to their deaths.
To invoke anything related to concentration camps in WWII or the Holocaust itself was an unfortunate and misleading mistake by the young and ignorant New York lawmaker.
This particular flub might just be one for the record books. And given Ocasio-Cortez’s history of flubs, that’s saying something.
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