“You go around carrying
pictures of Chairman Mao
you’re not gonna make it
with anyone anyhow.”
— Lennon/McCartney, Revolution
“Nazis; I hate those guys.”
— Steven Spielberg, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was wrong when she called the immoral, illogical and obscene US detention centers, “concentration camps.”
The US government only engages in industrial scale genocide in other countries, either directly or through proxies.
Domestically it seeks to maintain a viable permanent class of wage slaves terrorized into submission by indiscriminate police terror, or the generalized economic terrorism of capitalism.*
One could make the case that it is a distinction without a difference, or one could make the rhetorical argument that the concentration of individuals in a locked space, based on ethnic profiling, is analogous to the contemporary understanding of the two words.
However, the contemporary understanding and use of the term, “concentration camp” is a prison used to exterminate individuals on an industrial scale or to do that while simultaneously some of those incarcerated are used as slave labor.
Unless or until the regime begins executing people in an assembly line manner by poison gas, medical experiments, mass shooting, torture, or slave labor with no or useless amounts of food and no medical care, then Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is not just wrong, but far worse, she has given both the reactionary right and the Vichy liberals an opening they have and will continue to exploit.
Sound byte politics has advantages when one lives inside a social media tyranny. Short sharp statements devoid of nuance operate as word-bots that are easy to digest, easy to repeat, and amputate complexity from the ensuing media mud fight.
It is like coming to a knife fight with a knife.
Unfortunately the fight involves professional thugs armed with guns both actual and rhetorical.
Having begun with the rhetorical volume at 11, there’s only two options – either retreat or get louder.
The problem with getting louder is that when the fascists actually engage in the blunt force trauma of establishing a dictatorship the opposition finds its tool box empty and its rhetoric depleted of ammunition.
And to be clear, she did not mean to suggest the current system is analogous to something like Manzanar. She meant to compare them to Dachau or Bergen Belson.**
It was only after she drew outraged and irritated responses that allies came to her rhetorical rescue and based their argument on the older, technical description, and crucially, did so as if the contemporary association between the words and Nazis does not exist and if it does exist, to the pleasure of left wing anti-Semites, they argue that the association is wrong or meaningless.
But other issues matter just as much and got lost precisely because her rhetoric was poor, and her logic, such as it is, was worse.
Consider that amid the hysteria both for and against her comment no one remembered that just a few months ago, mandarin of the system, Michael Hayden, had compared Trump’s separation policy to the Nazis.
He tweeted an image of the entrance to Auschwitz and made the point that the German regime had done essentially the same thing as the Trump regime.
Except of course not exactly.
There were no protests at German concentration camps.
There were no reporters at German concentration camps.
There were no members of the government going to the camps and then going on media platforms – social or establishment – to express outrage.
And when, in the mid 1930s people did protest, they were exiled, arrested, beaten, and either executed outright or sent off to a camp, where they vanished.
Of course Hayden had a point – but it was more a case of scoring on your own goal then scoring against your opponent.
Hayden could have also posted a photo of the entrance to CIA headquarters at Langley and a link to the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina.
After all, accused war criminal and mass murdering fascist Henry Kissinger is still alive and has never been officially charged with crimes against humanity regarding anything – and considering that his blood trail reaches from S.E. Asia to the Middle East and to Central and South America god knows the man has a lot to answer for.
But he wont.
And of course no one in any position of social prestige asked Hayden if he thought either his comment was a case of hyperbole or if it was on point and as such, a reason to discuss America’s policies in South America or the use of ex/not ex Nazis like Klaus Barbie who were recruited to teach the otherwise disinterested people of Central and South America how to sing German opera.
And so today, as Trump rolls out a stunt for his fascist racist base and declares ICE will be conducting nation wide raids, the dilemma faced by AOC Inc is that having already stepped out on the rhetorical ledge, there’s precious little room for maneuver.
It’s a long way down and the ledge is thin.
Among the things we now have to confront are Gestapo style raids by militarized police and paramilitary forces that will inevitably lead to someone being shot and killed, and the police beating people, and all of it captured on someone’s phone.
That of course is what Trump and Gruppenführer Bannon want.
It’s what the Klan and the Neo-Nazis want.
It’s what the middle class bourgeois fascists want.
The trains are leaving the station.
Right on time.
For a look at Trump’s on going assault on Civil Liberties:
For a look at our previous post on Hayden, comparisons to Nazis and related issues:
Concentration Camp has a colloquial meaning that is understood to be defined as camps run by Nazis or other tyrants for the purposes of industrial scale extermination.
The technical definition of a camp that as the name specifically indicates is a place where people are concentrated, is at odds with the every day understanding.
There is a deliberate sloppiness and militant refusal to recognize that the popular understanding has superseded the technical definition.
AOC got out over her rhetorical skies when she called them concentration camps and only after the fact made the point that technically, the term does not only apply to extermination centers.
As we stated the fact remains the facilities are being used in an abusive immoral manner.
The sad irony in this is that AOC’s hyperbole has deflected attention away from Michael Hayden’s gaffe which highlighted the toxic legacy of the CIA and the US political establishment and precisely because her comment was a rhetorical train wreck, the deeper examples of authentic mass murder which one rightly associates with concentration camps, industrial scale torture, and systemic tyranny, goes undiscussed.
While the article below makes clear the abhorrent truth, no reasonable person would dismiss the fact that unlike concentration camps in Nazi Germany, or China, or North Korea, or at torture and execution centers in countries that were part of the American orchestrated Operation Condor, the detention centers are being investigated, reporters and government officials are visiting them and a national debate is occurring even if it is being conducted in the now standard form of hysteria, mud slinging, hyperbole, and a-historical chaos.
*At least until after the end of official slavery and domestic genocide against the indigenous inhabitants of North America.
**If anyone had any doubt that she was making a direct analogy to Nazis, and the industrial scale extermination at Auschwitz, and other facilities, here is a quote from her statement about the detention centers:
“I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not — that ‘Never Again’ means something.”
She’s right, it does mean something – something historically, specifically contextualized in the same way Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit means something specific.
In this case, the immoral and obscene detention centers are not analogous to Dachau or the Nazis.
See the details here:
It should be obvious that AOC’s comments were hyperbole and that her more ardent supporters used them to further their agenda of making anti-Semitism normal but chipping away at the specific tragedy of the second world war in Europe .
It should be obvious that she was directly comparing the detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps and not to other awful but less hideous historical examples.
It should all be obvious but it’s not so we take note of the following:
While our previous posts make clear, our contempt for the malignant troll in the White House, we take note of the following as an example of the serious flaw in AOC’s rhetoric and, such as it is, thinking. That it involves yet another misreading of a fascist with overt connections to Nazis doesn’t make one forgive or forget her previous comments.
Were her allies honest with her and themselves and were they authentically concerned with the state of the “opposition” they would offer a blunt correction.
We wont hold our breath waiting for that.
Below find a link to an otherwise non story in which Trump displays his standard goon behavior and AOC displays her unfortunate habit of sounding ignorant generally and specifically about fascists and Nazis.
For anyone still in doubt at to the absurdity of the claim that the detention centers on the Southern Border are analogous to Nazi Concentration camps: